He has coached several cricketers from the 1983 World Cup squad member Balwinder Singh Sandhu to the batting legend Sachin Tendulkar who have represented India at the international level. On the occasion of ‘Guru Purnima’ today, the students fondly recalled the contribution of their mentor Ramakant Achrekar who they call ‘Achrekar Sir’.
The octogenarian was felicitated on Sunday at a programme ‘Guru Vandana’ organised by Deeplo Sports Club here in presence of his several students. Former India batsman Praveem Amre, who had scored a hundred on his debut, said he was under Achrekar Sir for 10 years.
“There was no off-season with sir as we played with rubber ball during Monsoon. He has created good coaches along good players. In my opinion, sir was a ‘Guru’ and there is a lot of difference between a ‘Guru’ and a ‘coach’,” said Amre, who played 11 Tests for the country.
Former India stumper and batsman Chandrakant Pandit recalled how “visionary” Achrekar sir made him change his school to pursue a career in cricket. Another ex-stumper Sameer Dighe remembered the role played by the veteran trainer in his career.
“Pravin (Amre) used to keep wickets. But on sir’s word for me, he left keeping when I was playing for Mithibai (College),” recalled Dighe, the present Mumbai Ranji coach.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu recalled that he was initially an off spinner, but it was Achrekar who spotted his talent to bowl good “in-swing”.
“Till that time, I did not know that the ball was called an in-swing,” Sandhu said sending a peal of laughter in audience. “It was sir who asked me to develop the in swing,” he added.
Pandurang Salgoankar, who had played with Achrekar, narrated some instances, involving the latter as a wicket keeper. However, Sachin Tendulkar could not make it to the event as he was abroad. Another former India player Vinod Kambli arrived later and sought blessing of Achrekar.
A citation was presented to Achrekar for his contribution to the game by the students amid chanting of hymns by the priests of the Sri Siddhivinayak Temple. It was also announced that the work on making a film on Achrekar was in progress and a teaser of the said movie was shown on the occasion.