By Nadim Memon | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 03, 2019
Sir Ramakant Achrekar, who passed away at the age of 87 on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at his Shivaji Park residence in Dadar in Central Mumbai, was a simple man: A gentleman to the core, he was a good cricketer and excelled as a batsman and a wicket-keeper. He worked with the State Bank of India and used up his salary on children playing at the Shivaji Park maidans to buy them cricketing gear, feeding them wada pav and also helping them with their travelling expenses. Such was his love for the game of cricket and budding youngsters.
Sir Ramakant Achrekar put in a lot of hard work into domestic cricket and cricketers, and today deserves the respect that was shown at his funeral by his students, cricketers and all those who gathered to bid him farewell.
Sir Ramakant Achrekar was friendly and warmed up to anybody. I was closely associated with him during the 1980s. He was like a friend and always told me, “Young boys should play lots of friendly matches. Coaching in the nets is OK, but match temperament is a must for a player’s all-round development.”
Sir Ramakant Achrekar was driven by this passion for the game and he ensured that his wards got enough and more match practice running around from one maidan to another. The manner in which Sachin Tendulkar played matches all over the maidans of Bombay as a young lad is now well-known. I was his scooter driver as he always requested me to take a player and make him play more matches at various maidans. Whenever a player was out early in a match at Shivaji Park, he used to send him to Matunga Gymkhana to play matches there. He never wanted a cricketer to get disappointed.
Sir Ramakant Achrekar has produced many Ranji Trophy and Test players. I still remember when he was a junior selector in Bombay Cricket Association now MCA, he was asked by the then BCA officials to resign because he was coaching at school level and they did not want any conflict of interest. But there were other coaches who were coaching and also running their own private clubs! Being a gentleman that he was, Sir resigned.
Sir Ramakant Achrekar had good knowledge for preparing wickets; he was well-versed with watering and rolling pitches. I learnt a lot by just being around him and observing him. I learnt from him how to prepare wickets and today I am a professional curator and ground consultant.
I still remember the day Sir Ramakant Achrekar asked me to see a young Sachin and make him play. He was just 12 years old then and had come to play Kanga League for his first match for John Bright Club. I remember Prakash Kelkar telling us not to play such a young lad as he would get hurt. We made him play and Sachin got 19 runs.
The rest is History!
Winning the Dronacharya Award was perhaps the biggest accolade he got. Knowing him, he was happiest when his wards did well… at whatever level they played their cricket.
Well played, Sir!
(Nadim Memon is a man of the maidans. He is a curator, a sports lover, a cricketer, a footballer and more, importantly a fierce protector of maidans for the younger generation!)
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