Ajit forever

An aggressive left-hand batsman who became slightly bogged down by responsibility, Ajit Wadekar’s name will forever be linked with 1971 when he led the Indian team to historic triumphs in the West Indies and England. Wadekar made his first-class debut in 1958-59 but had to wait eight years before playing for India in 1966-67, despite a string of big scores around the domestic circuit.
But he took little time to establish himself in the Indian team and was a tower of strength to the Indian batting for seven years, playing scintillating or valuable knocks depending upon the state of the game. He was one of the best No. 3 batsmen in the history of Indian cricket and one of the finest slip fielders.
Vijay Merchant’s casting vote as chairman of the selection committee ended MAK Pataudi’s long reign as Indian captain and handed over the leadership to Wadekar in January 1971. He proved himself to be a capable captain, if not a shrewd tactician, and a combination of circumstances, and a fair share of good fortune, led to India beating West Indies and then England. A third successive series triumph over England, this time at home, followed in 1972-73 and Wadekar was at his peak as batsman and captain when he led India to England in 1974. What followed was anti climax. All three Tests were lost by margins that brooked no argument in what went down as the inglorious `Summer of 42′. Made a scapegoat, Wadekar was forced to retire, although a reluctance to spend time away from his young family would probably have led to him standing down whatever the outcome of the tour. Almost three decades later he renewed his association with Indian cricket as a successful manager of victorious Indian teams, striking a particularly good working relationship with Mohammad Azharuddin. In 2007, Wadekar joined the ICL where he served as a match referee, but was released from his contract with the unofficial league and was granted amnesty by the BCCI in 2009.
Indian Cricket legend Ajit Wadekar had passed away at the age of 77 on Wednesday in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. The former Indian skipper was declared dead on arrival at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre. He had been critically unwell for some time and was seeking treatment for the same.
Condolence by fans across the world flooded social media. PM Modi in his official twitter handle said, “Ajit Wadekar will be remembered for his rich contribution to Indian cricket. A great batsman & wonderful captain, he led our team to some of the most memorable victories in our cricketing history. He was also respected as an effective cricket administrator. Pained by his demise.”
President Kovind, in his message, wrote, “Sad at passing of Ajit Wadekar, one of Indian cricket’s finest left-handed batsman and captain during iconic overseas Test victories in 1971 in the Caribbean and in England. Condolences to his family and cricket fraternity (sic)”.
Expressing grief over former India Captain’s demise, Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin quoted, “Wadekar sir’s presence in the dressing room had a great calming impact during crisis. He made no needless demands of the players because he knew the strengths and weaknesses of an individual. Not for him needless sulking at a failure. He would always encourage us to learn and improve.”
It was under his captaincy that India won the first Test series over West Indies and England on foreign soil in the 1970s.
Ajit Laxman Wadekar played for India between 1966 and 1974. The “aggressive batsman” made his first-class debut in 1958. He was also considered one of the finest slip fielders.
Along with Azharuddin, Wadekar served as the manager of Indian Cricket team in the 1990’s. He is one of the few Indians to represent the country as a Test player and captain, coach/manager and the chairman of selectors.
The left hand top order batsmen represented India in 37 Test Matches. He scored 2113 runs with one century and 14 fifties. He continued to be the captain of Indian cricket team that toured England in 1974 and represented the national team in their first ever One-Day International.