Mumbai : When Pravin Amre made his debut as India batsman in South Africa, Ajit Wadekar, the team coach, had a simple advice for him: Play as if you are playing at Shivaji Park.
Wadekar, who led India to their first Test series win in both England and West Indies, passed away at the age of 77 on August 15 in Mumbai.
Speaking at a condolence meet organised by the Mumbai Cricket Association, Amre recalled how Wadekar shored up his confidence.
“I remained 12th man in 12 Test matches. I was not getting the chance in Test,” he said.
“When (Wadekar) Sir was the coach, it was the historic tour (to South Africa). Sir had faith in me. (One day) he told me you are playing the Test tomorrow,” said the right-hander.
“He not only gave me the Test cap in the dressing room, but even today I remember his words…he said, `just imagine you are playing at Shivaji Park, and bat’.” Shivaji Park in central Mumbai is famous as the breeding ground of several cricketers, including Sachin Tendulkar.
“I got confidence,” Amre said. He went on to make 103 at Durban, facing the likes of Allan Donald.
Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar recalled how Wadekar helped him obtain passport in one day when Vengsarkar was selected for a Sri Lanka tour.
“I didn’t have a passport so I called up Ajit and said I don’t have passport, so I can’t come. He said come to my office, and that is the first time I met him. And he got passport for me in one day,” Vengsarkar said.