NEW DELHI: The BCCI Thursday condoled the demise of former captain Ajit Wadekar, calling him the “renaissance man” of Indian cricket whose departure has left a big void.
Wadekar, who led India to their first overseas Test series wins in England and the West Indies, passed away last night after prolonged illness.
He was 77. Wadekar is survived by his wife Rekha, two sons and a daughter. BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary said in a statement, “His demise has left a big void.
First as a batsman and then as captain, he took Indian cricket to new heights and then continued to contribute as a coach, manager, and chairman of selectors.
“The experience he gained during his playing days was used in man-management as coach and manager, overseeing a highly successful period.”
Wadekar represented India in 37 Tests and scored 2113 runs.
He amassed a staggering 15380 first-class runs from 237 matches.
Board CEO Rahul Johri said, “He will always be remembered as the Renaissance Man of Indian cricket.
The West Indies and England were two extremely strong teams and beating them in their backyard was almost impossible.
“Wadekar’s inspiring leadership made it a glorious summer for Indian cricket. It instilled belief in everybody and Indian cricket has since made steady progress.”
The aggressive batsman was a trailblazer in Indian cricket despite a mere 37 Test appearances, leading India to triumphs in England and the West Indies in 1971.
Wadekar scored over 2000 runs in his Test career, including one hundred, and was also the country’s first ODI captain.
He appeared in just two matches, though.
India lost both those ODIs against England, which prompted Wadekar to retire from the international cricket in 1974.
The Mumbaikar went on to serve as India’s manager in the ’90s during Mohammed Azharuddin’s captaincy.
In his tenure as manager, India had finished semifinalists at the 1996 World Cup. He later went on to become the chairman of selectors as well.
Wadekar is the only cricketer apart from Lala Amarnath and Chandu Borde to have served as captain, manager, and selector in Indian cricket.
But the feat that made him an icon was the Test wins in the West Indies and England.