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Madhav Apte : A gentleman and a true all-rounder in life

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Feature
131   //    Timeless

It was the summer of 2017 when I had started the research of my book - ‘A Colonel Destined to Lead’ and the first Test cricketer whom I had called was a gentleman by the name Madhav Apte. He agreed to meet me to provide inputs on the great Col. CK Nayudu. 

As I went to his house - Woodlands Apartment on Peddar Road in Mumbai, little did I know that this would be the first of many meetings with Madhav Sir. Being my first interaction with a Test cricketer, I was probably as nervous as a batsman is on his Test debut. But he had a calming influence on me and made me comfortable. We spoke for more than an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. He had many anecdotes to share about Col. CK Nayudu. He was also kind enough to sign and gift his autobiography ‘As Luck Would Have It’ to me. 

Madhav Apte at the CCI
Madhav Apte at the CCI

“My sudden disappearance (exit) from Test cricket, especially after an impressive record, was never explained”

Well, what an apt title that he had chosen. He represented India in only 7 Tests and had a batting average of 49.27 with the help of one century and three half-centuries. His highest score was an unbeaten 163 runs against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 1953. The fact that he played only two Test matches after scoring his only century remains one of the many unexplained decisions in Indian cricket.

Recalling this, he has written in his book, “My sudden disappearance (exit) from Test cricket, especially after an impressive record, was never explained”. He adds that, “Many cricket followers believe that I had retired because of business commitments. It was not so”. 

Nevertheless, he continued playing Ranji cricket till the late 1960s. Later on, he took over his family business of sugar factories & textile mills. He went on to serve as the President of the Mumbai Chamber of Commerce. He also held the post of the Sheriff of Mumbai as well as the President of the Cricket Club of India (CCI).

Took 10 wickets in an innings as a school boy

I was stunned at the level of his fitness even at the age of 85 years. It might surprise many that he still plays badminton at the Bombay Gymkhana and drives his own car. He has been a true all-rounder in life, having donned multiple hats. Not many would know that as a school boy he had taken 10 wickets for 10 runs in an innings, playing for Wilson High School against Robert Money. He was also a good tennis player in his younger days.

I can’t thank Madhav Sir enough for the support that he has provided

My next meeting took place few months later when I had gone to invite him to be the chief guest for the cover launch of my book. Yet again, he willingly obliged and I can’t thank him enough for the support provided. 

Madhav Apte at his home
Madhav Apte at his home

Meetings with him have always been a pleasure and he has stories from the time of Col. CK Nayudu to Sunil Gavaskar. In fact, he is probably the only player to have played with both Prof. DB Deodhar (the Grand Old Man of Indian cricket) and Sachin Tendulkar. 

I met him recently during this year’s Ganpati festival and he told me that Ganpati Celebrations have been going on at his house since his birth, this being the 85th consecutive year. As Madhav Sir turns 86 years old today, I wish him a very Happy Birthday and pray to God that he sees many more Ganpati celebrations at his home. 

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EXPERT COLUMNIST
Author of 'A Colonel Destined to Lead' on India's first test captain Col.CK Nayudu https://www.amazon.in/Colonel-Destined-Lead-Biography-captain/dp/B07883DK81/ref=sr_1_18_sspa?ie=UTF8
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