It is my personal opinion that many a times we miss out on acknowledging the efforts of a teacher. The Eklavya who shines walks away with the catch but the Dronacharya gets little or no credit. This article is my personal tribute to a good human being and also a great cricket coach Mr Ramakant Achrekar.
Ramakant Achrekar started playing Cricket 1943 and started playing club cricket for New Hind Sports Club in 1945. He played only one first class match for all-India State Bank against Hyderabad in the Moin-ud-Dowla tournament during 1963-64.This is not what he is renowned for but who he coached and how they are known as now.
His most famous student is unarguably Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, India’s Highest run scorer in both Tests and ODI’s and also the current record holder for an ‘n’ number of records! He has been instrumental in grooming some of the Country’s most renowned cricketers like Vinod Kambli, Ajit Agarkar and Romesh Powar.
Ramanath Achrekar coached young cricketers at Shivaji Park, Dadar in Mumbai. Sachin trained under him while he latter was a student at Sharadashram Vidyamandir, Mumbai. When he was young, Tendulkar would practice for hours and hours in the nets. If he became exhausted, Achrekar would put a one-Rupee-coin on the top of the stumps, and the bowler who dismissed Tendulkar would get the coin. If Tendulkar passed the whole session without getting dismissed, the coach would give him the coin. Tendulkar now considers the 13 coins he won then as some of his most prized possessions.
Tendulkar recalled an incident when his coach told him to play for ‘B’ team of his School. Instead of batting, he preferred sitting in the gallery and cheering for his schoolmates. In the evening, when he came across Achrekar, he was asked how many runs he had scored. Taken aback, Tendulkar told him that he was clapping and cheering up. Then came a slap which shattered his myth. His lunch box fell on the ground and he realized what a mistake he had commited, he said. Achrekar told him firmly ‘don’t just clap for others, play for yourself and concentrate on your batting’, Tendulkar said.
“That incident changed my life and whatever I am today is because of his coaching and match practices that encouraged,” he said. Tendulkar lauded his contribution to Cricket and said his mentor looked after all players really well.
In 1990 he was awarded the Dronacharya award for his efforts towards Cricket and In 2010, Mr Achrekar was conferred with Padma Shri, one of the country’s highest civilian awards. More recently on February 12th 2011, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award by Gary Kirsten, coach of the Indian Cricket Team. This award was part of the awards given away for various categories in sports by Sports Illustrated.
The Ramakant Achrekar Foundation gives away scholarships to deserving players. In 2009, Mumbai U-16 captain Harmeet Singh was given a scholarship of Rs 50,000 by Ramakant Achrekar Foundation which was formed by former Ranji player Sharad Thakre.
It is really heartening to see the efforts of greats like Mr Achrekar being recognized with due credits and I only hope that the various coaches who play a vital role in the grooming of young bloods are given their due share of credit and I sincerely hope that more Dronacharya awards are given away with the sole purpose of acknowledging the sincere efforts put in by a Coach/Mentor.