Ramakant Achrekar’s name will forever be associated with Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the most iconic cricketer to have ever donned the colours of Team India.
Why was that? Well, without his guru Achrekar, Tendulkar’s name would have never left the dusty maidans of Bombay (now Mumbai). However, Tendulkar wasn’t the only one. Achrekar had also coached the likes of Ajit Agarkar, Vinod Kambli and Pravin Amre, all cricketers who have represented both the Bombay Ranji side and Team India on various occasions.
Last evening, the cricketing world bid adieu to the legendary coach, who passed away at age 86 due to various health complications. “Cricket in heaven will be enriched with the presence of Achrekar Sir,” Sachin Tendulkar said in a condolence statement. “Like many of his students, I learnt my ABCD of cricket under Sir’s guidance. His contribution to my life cannot be captured in words. He built the foundation that I stand on. Last month, I met Sir along with some of his students and spent some time together. We shared a laugh as we remembered the old times,” he wrote.
You’ll always be in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/0UIJemo5oM
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 2, 2019
The stories of how he moulded the likes of Tendulkar for cricket at the highest level are legendary. Coins on top of bails to induce young bowlers into striving for perfection despite fatigue at the end of the day or small prizes for batsmen who would not lose their wicket were just some of the motivational tactics he would use to not only hone the skills of his wards, but mould a certain degree of mental toughness in them.
Like any great coach, he knew how to approach each talented kid in the maidans of Bombay and bring the best out in them. “He could judge each player’s natural ability—that was his ultimate greatness. He knew what worked for whom,” says Sameer Dighe, former Indian wicketkeeper, speaking to The Indian Express.
A former cricketer who had played for the State Bank of India, Achrekar lived at Wadala before moving to Dadar’s Shivaji Park, the hub of cricket in Mumbai.
“Achrekar sir taught us the virtues of playing straight and living straight. Thank you for making us a part of your life and enriching us with your coaching manual. Well played Sir and may you coach more wherever you are,” Tendulkar wrote.
Here are some other tributes that notable figures of Indian cricket and fans paid to Achrekar:
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) January 2, 2019
Shri Ramakant Achrekar Ji was a shining beacon of the Guru Parampara. An outstanding mentor, he groomed cricketing talent for years and the gems he trained went on to bring immense glory to the nation. His passing away is a big loss to the sporting world. My condolences: PM
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 3, 2019
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 2, 2019
Most endearing and admirable aspect of this guru-shishya relationship was that Acharekar never clamoured for recognition for his role in a genius’s development, but @sachin_rt never forgot to acknowledge this pic.twitter.com/Pa3rvbqO5T
— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) January 2, 2019
You will always be remembered as one of the finest cricketing minds, #RamakantAchrekar sir. Thank you for giving us the gift that is @sachin_rt and inspiring millions others. You will be missed. Thoughts & prayers with the family. pic.twitter.com/zyJLr528VM
— Suresh Raina?? (@ImRaina) January 2, 2019
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)