Former Indian Test Captain Ajit Wadekar Passes Away, India Mourns
Former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar passed away on Wednesday, 15 August, in Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital, reportedly due to cancer. He was 77 years old.
Wadekar is survived by his wife Rekha, two sons and a daughter.
"Mr Ajit Wadekar was declared dead on arrival at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre. He had been critically unwell for sometime and was seeking treatment for the same,” the official statement from the Hospital, read.
Credited with helming India's first test win at a foreign location, Ajit Wadekar led the team to series wins in 1971 against England and West Indies.
Born in Mumbai, Wadekar made his international debut in 1966 against West Indies. Considered one of the finest slip fielders, Ajit Wadekar was the captain of the Indian side that won the series in England and West IndiesWadekar was India's first ODI captain, although he appeared in just two matches, PTI reports.
Wadekar also served as India's manager in the '90s during Mohammed Azharuddin's tenure as captain. He later went on to become the chairman of selectors as well.
Considered to be one of India's finest slip fielders and an aggressive left-hander, Wadekar appeared in a total of 37 Tests and amassed 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07, ANI reports.
He scored his sole century against New Zealand in 1968.
In 1967, the Government of India bestowed Wadekar with the Arjuna Award. He also received the Padma Shri Award, the country's fourth highest civilian honour, in 1972, ANI reports.
Wadekar’s Landmark Victories
Under Wadekar’s captaincy, India played three Test matches against England in 1971, and surprisingly won the series against England 1–0 with two Tests drawn.
This was India's first ever series win in England. India pulled off a historic win in the Third Test at The Oval by 4 wickets after being 71 behind on first innings. The team also brushed England out for only 101 in the second innings with Bhagwat Chandrasekhar claiming 6–38.
Besides Wadekar and Chandrasekhar, the team included other notable players in Dilip Sardesai, Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan, Gundappa Viswanath, Bishan Singh Bedi and the still newly recruited Sunil Gavaskar.
The Indian team, starring Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Sardesai and Salim Durani, also carried out a smashing victory in the four test matches against West Indies back in 1971. This was incidentally, Gavaskar’s debut into Test matches.
They played five Test matches against West Indies, with India winning the series 1–0.
Cricketers Mourn Wadekar’s Demise
Wadekar’s demise was mourned by former cricketers, commentators, politicians, and journalists who all remembered him as an iconic test cricket captain.
Cricketers- both current and past- have taken to Twitter to express their condolences at “Wadekar Sir’s” passing.
From the BCCI to Rajdeep Sardesai- those who had interacted with the former coach, spoke about their best memories of him.
Politicians Thank Wadekar for His Contribution to Cricket
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Wadekar would always be remembered for his “rich contribution to Indian cricket”.