New Delhi : The BCCI on Thursday condoled the demise of former captain Ajit Wadekar, calling him the “renaissance man” of Indian cricket whose departure has left a big void. Wadekar, who led India to their first overseas Test series wins in England and the West Indies, passed away Wednesday night after prolonged illness. He was 77. Wadekar is survived by his wife Rekha, two sons and a daughter.
BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary said in a statement, “His demise has left a big void. First as a batsman and then as captain, he took Indian cricket to new heights and then contributed as a coach, manager, and chairman of selectors.
“The experience he gained during his playing days was used in man-management as coach and manager, overseeing a highly successful period.”
Wadekar represented India in 37 Tests and scored 2113 runs. He amassed a staggering 15380 first-class runs from 237 matches. Board CEO Rahul Johri said, “He will always be remembered as the Renaissance Man of Indian cricket. The West Indies and England were two extremely strong teams and beating them in their backyard was almost impossible.
“Wadekar’s inspiring leadership made it a glorious summer for Indian cricket. It instilled belief in everybody and Indian cricket has since made steady progress.”
The aggressive batsman was a trailblazer in Indian cricket despite a mere 37 Test appearances, leading India to triumphs in England and the West Indies in 1971. He was also the country’s first ODI captain. The Mumbaikar went on to serve as India’s manager in the ‘90s during Mohammed Azharuddin’s captaincy. In his tenure as manager, India had finished semi-finalists at the 1996 WC.
He later went on to become the chairman of selectors as well. Wadekar is the only cricketer apart from Lala Amarnath and Chandu Borde to have served as captain, manager, and selector in Indian cricket.