Mumbai: Former skipper Ajit Wadekar, whom one cricket columnist has hailed as Indian cricket’s ‘renaissance’ man, passed away on Wednesday at Jaslok Hospital after a prolonged illness. An aggressive left-hander who played in the number three position, he was a trailblazer despite just 37 Test appearances and spearheaded the overseas triumphs against West Indies & England in 1971.
In fact, it was Wadekar who ended Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi’s long stint as captain. He proved to be not only a shrewd tactician but also had the instincts to read situations quickly. Ironically, Wadekar had to retire after India were trounced 3-0 on the tour of England in 1974. He later served as the manager of Indian cricket team. He is one of the few Indians to represent the country as Test player, captain, coach/manager and the chairman of selectors.
Wadekar made his first-class debut in 1958-59 but had to wait eight long years before representing India on the big stage despite many solid performances in the domestic circuit. Last but not the least, he was one of the finest slip fielders the game has produced. He scored 2,113 runs in his Test career but statistics do not give any idea of his innate talent. He was also India’s first ODI captain, although he appeared in just two matches.