For as long as we remember Sachin Tendulkar, his earliest coach Ramakant Achrekar will be remembered as well. We all know about the legendary tale of a schoolkid who refused to play for his school's B team and sat and clapped for his friends instead. As Achrekar breathed his last on Wednesday, we look back at an old video of Tendulkar, fondly remembering his 'sir'. Journalist Kunal Purandare recorded Achrekar's life in his book 'Ramakant Achrekar: Master Blaster's Master'. The video was captured as Sachin sent in good wishes for the book.
"30-32 years back, I was an 11-year-old kid and I went to Achrekar sir. I was extremely nervous when sir was standing behind me. I didn't bat well at all. Later, my brother requested Achrekar sir to move away from the net," he recalled.
The legendary cricketer also remembered how he changed his school in order to be coached for Achrekar. "I am sure Achrekar sir spotted a spark in me and asked me, 'okay, are you prepared to change your school?' So I changed my school and that's where my wonderful journey began, along with Achrekar sir. "
"Something which was different about Achrekar sir was, he made us play a lot of practice games. And even during those practice games, sir's commitment was probably more than ours. Sir would spend the whole day. He would be hiding. None of us knew where sir would sit and watch us. But we knew sir is watching us from somewhere. We had to be on our toes. There were a number of occasions where players were caught off-guard. Inevitably, after the game, sir would call a team meeting which we called a post-mortem of the game. Sir would have written down on his chits the basic pointers. And then, he would take us through all those things, where we went wrong...and he would make us believe that there is plenty of room for improvement. If he didn't correct our mistakes, we would be stagnant as cricketers."
Achrekar was conferred with the Dronacharya honour; he was a guru with utmost dedication who worshipped training aspiring cricketers. "I remember many senior cricketers sharing this with me. In fact, I hadn't even joined Achrekar sir at that time. Sir had lost one of his family members. It happened in the morning, and sir was practising with all the kids in the afternoon. Many students went to his home to pay respects but they were told, 'sir is practising outside. Go and practice. Such was his commitment," said Sachin.
Even decades back, Achrekar was familiar with the modern techniques of coaching and passed on everything to his students. "Today, there are so many techniques. There is level 1, level and 2 and all. And it's good. That is something we all cricketers meet and discuss. That was something Achrekar taught us 30 years ago. So obviously, his coaching methods were different. He never told us this is level 1 or this is level 2. But this was something he knew. We absorbed every little thing sir shared with us."
At times, a teacher puts you through difficult times only so that you can discover your own potential. In Sachin's case, his guru refused to come to his place for dinner! "When I invited him at my place for dinner, sir said, 'only when you score a hundred. Otherwise, I don't think I should come to your place. You have to give me something. I am asking for a hundred. I still remember I was batting 94 overnight. The whole night I was tossing and turning, hoping I get my hundred the next day. Thankfully, I got my first hundred and I went and I invited sir. That was one of the big moments in my life," he recalled fondly.
"However much I thank Achrekar sir for helping me achieve my dream and being a part of my journey, it's never enough," Sachi concluded, and we can't agree more.
People like Achrekar leave behind a void that can't be fulfilled. We pray his soul rests in peace. May his legacy be carried forward by Sachin and his likes.Read More