The coach, who made Sachin Tendulkar the great player he is, has died at the age of 87. Ramakant Achrekar has been battling age-related ailments for long. Tendulkar attended the last rites of Achrekar and carried his ‘Sir’ on his shoulders on the former coach’s last journey.
Tendulkar has always credited Achrekar for making him the player he is. There have been few memorable anecdotes concerning the star coach. Cricwizz revisits the past and brings few memorable anecdotes.
Sachin not the first from Achrekar stable
Although Sachin is the first disciple of Achrekar to make a big name for himself in international cricket and make his coach proud, it was Ramnath Parkar who was the first cricketer from the Achrekar stable to play for India. Parkar made his debut against England in 1972 as Sunil Gavaskar’s opening partner. But Parkar managed to play just two Tests for India.
Other notable players from the Achrekar stable to play for India include Vinod Kambli, Ajit Agarkar, Lalchand Rajput. Other notable Achrekar disciples to make a name for themselves in domestic cricket include Amol Muzumdar and Naresh Churi.
Unique coaching style
Achrekar is known for his unique coaching style. But his best was the ‘late-cut’ revealed by Tendulkar a few years ago. Achrekar used to arrange matches for Sachin while the latter rushed home for lunch after school. On one such day, Sachin chose to skip a match and cheer for his team in the Harris Shield final at Wankhede Stadium. Knowing Sachin has skipped the match, Achrekar sir still asked him how he performed. When Sachin revealed he has skipped the match to cheer for his team, Achrekar gave him a late-cut (a tight slap) and told him, “You don’t have to be here to cheer for others. Play in such a way that others cheer for you.” And Sachin took it literally as billion of fans cheered for him for two decades.
In his retirement speech, Sachin said his coach Achrekar never said ‘Well played’. Sachin added that post his retirement, he may now hear those two precious words from his Sir. Although it’s not sure whether Achrekar did say those two words, what was clear is that Achrekar maintained high standards and never failed to rebuke his wards if they failed to play their game properly.
In one such incident, when India were playing the Mumbai Test against England in 1993, both Achrekar’s wards – Tendulkar and Kambli – were stitching a match-winning partnership. Achrekar was busy in Harris Shield final nearby, but he did manage to see a few overs. At the end of the day, he called Tendulkar and Kambli and gave them a dressing down. He asked Kambli, “Don’t you know where your off-stump is?”. Kambli went on to score 224.
Unearthing new talent
Achrekar is known for unearthing talent. He once spotted a youngster playing tennis-ball cricket in Chembur in Mumbai and was so impressed with the lad’s talent that he landed at the teenager’s house at 12.30 in the night. Achrekar sir tried to convince the youngster’s father to change the boy’s school so that he can focus on cricket.
But the father said his son would be better off with studies. Achrekar then took out a Rs 1000 note (in 1978, Rs 1000 was a big amount then) and told the father that this will the youngster’s monthly salary from now on. The father was too embarrassed to say anything. And the rest is history. The youngster is none other than former Indian stumper Chandrakant Pandit who played 5 Tests and 36 ODIs for India. Pandit was more successful in domestic cricket, scoring 8211 runs in 138 first-class matches.
Coin as motivator
After practice, Achrekar sir used to throw a challenge at his favourite ward Sachin. He used to place a one-rupee coin on top of the off-stump and tell his bowlers that whoever gets Sachin out can take the coin. And Sachin used to play his heart out to protect his wicket and won many coins in the process. The prized possession occupies a special place in Sachin’s long list of trophies.