Tributes from former cricketers, fans and politicians poured in after former India all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni died at 86 on Friday following old-age related illness.
He played 41 Test matches for India and was best known for his economic left-arm spin bowling and ability to get maiden overs at will, including 21 consecutive ones against England in a Test match in Madras.
Nadkarni was a stalwart of Mumbai cricket having played 191 first-class matches, where he took 500 wickets and scored 8,880 runs. He served as Indian team manager as well. Fellow Mumbai greats Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar led the tributes for the former player.
For Gavaskar, it was more of a personal loss as he fondly recollected Nadkarni’s pro-active role as an assistant manager who doubled up as a tactician during India’s tour of Australia in 1980-’81.
“He came as an assistant manager for quite a number of our tours. He was very encouraging. His favourite term was “chhoddo matt” [hang in there]. He was a gritty cricketer despite playing in the days when gloves and thigh pads were not very good, not much protective equipment as you would get hit. But still hang in there as he believed in “chhoddo matt”,’ Gavaskar told reporters in Rajkot on Friday.
Gavaskar also remembered Nadkarni’s role on overseas tours.
“Every time he was on a tour he was very very helpful in terms of strategy. At lunch time or team time, he would say try this if you were a fielding captain. He would tell bring this bowler, or ask this bowler to bowl round the wicket. He was fantastic. Indian cricket has lost a real champion,” he added.
The former India captain also recalled how Nadkarni helped Sandeep Patil to recover quickly from concussion that he suffered after being hit on the head by a Len Pascoe bouncer. Patil came back in the next Test and scored a memorable 174, a knock that was the highlight of his inconsistent career.
“He was probably the main guy instrumental in having Sandeep Patil come back after a blow on his head. He was the one who kept urging Sandeep that ‘it doesn’t matter, you are here and you should go out and bat again’.
“Bapuji was the assistant manager on the tour. It was only because of him that Sandeep went on to score that 174 in the next Test match because Bapuji was constantly there with him,” Gavaskar added.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah also expressed his grief at Nadkarni’s death.
“It is with profound sadness that BCCI has learnt of the passing of former India all-rounder Rameshchandra Gangaram ‘Bapu’ Nadkarni. The 86-year-old breathed his last at his daughter’s residence in Mumbai on Friday. The Board shares the pain and grief of the Nadkarni family and prays for the departed soul.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “With his death, “an era of magical bowling has come to an end,” Thackeray said in his message, noting that the veteran cricketer’s record of bowling 21 maiden overs was still unbroken.
The country has lost a celebrated cricketer, the chief minister further said.
Former BCCI president Sharad Pawar called Nadkarni him a “fine all-rounder of Indian cricket”.
“A fine all-rounder of Indian cricket has been lost with the demise of Bapu Nadkarni. He was called the world’s most parsimonious spinner due to his record of 21 consecutive maiden overs,” he said.
Here’s how the cricket community on Twitter reacted to Nadkarni’s death.
With PTI Inputs