He has a double century for Mumbai University. He has been one of India's most famous Test captains and has also coached the national team for a number of years. Meet Ajit Wadekar, who like Sunil Gavaskar, is also a product of the all-India University cricket system that exposed several superstars of Indian cricket. With the Toyota University Cricket Championship set to start Saturday evening, NDTV caught up with Wadekar in Mumbai. Excerpts from the exclusive interview:
On the Toyota University Cricket Championship concept: NDTV is doing an extremely good job in reviving the cricket at university level. In the good old days, the door to the Indian cricket team opened through college and university cricket. One could only then graduate to state-level, Ranji and finally if you were good enough, to the Indian team. (Adding jokingly) If you were even better, then you would be made the captain of the Indian senior team! (Wadekar made his Test debut on December 13, 1966 versus the West Indies)
On Mumbai University making it to the TUCC: First of all, I would like to tell them that university cricket is serious business. It was really important for me in the sense that I made it to Indian team owing to my performances at the University level. These players are touted to be future Indian cricketers. Also, Mumbai players are known to be 'khadoos' (professional) and I would be happy if they kept that tradition going. Then of course, Mumbai boys are talented and should aim for nothing less than winning the championship.
On how viewership has changed from his times: We used to get thousands and thousands of people and students watching our matches at the time. With TUCC, the medium of viewing may have changed but the exposure would be even bigger since the matches will be aired on television.
On any anecdote/funny incident from his University days: In a university final, we were playing Delhi at their home. We had beaten them in Mumbai the previous year. Unfortunately, I could not play well and we lost to Delhi. This time, it was late December in the capital city and we were not even allowed to have hot water baths. Being from Mumbai, it was difficult for us to cope but no excuses anyway as we lost pretty badly.
Another funny incident I remember during that visit was when we went to Chandni Chowk to have tandoori chicken. Having got Rs 5 as our daily allowance, all of us pooled in to eat tandoori chicken. One of our chicken pieces got leftover and it being so expensive, one of my teammates put the chicken in his pocket. We could not afford to waste it so he said that 'we will have it later'.