Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team wore black armbands to mourn the death of Ramakant Achrekar, the coach of prominent players like Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Pravin Amre and Chandrakant Pandit. Achrekar had died at the age of 87 on Wednesday and social media was filled with tributes for the person who had spotted the talent of Sachin Tendulkar at a very early stage. In 1990, Achrekar was honoured with the Dronacharya Award for Outstanding coaches in Sports and Games. He was honoured with one of the country's highest civilian award, the Padma Shri in 2010. In the same year, he was honoured the "Lifetime Achievement" award by the Sports Illustrated by Gary Kirsten.
Achrekar belonged to that near extinct tribe of cricket coaches, who gave quintessential talented middle-class boys hope and imparted knowledge that they carried a lifetime. It is believed that Achrekar would put a one rupee coin over stumps and challenge Tendulkar not to get bowled in order to earn the coin is a part of cricketing folklore. Tendulkar still maintains that those coins are priceless. It is also reported in Mumbai cricket circles that Tendulkar once got a "tight slap" for missing a match in order to watch the senior school team play a final match. "People should come to watch you rather you clapping from the stands," Tendulkar recalled Achrekar's words in a story that has been repeated often at various functions.
Cricket in heaven will be enriched with the presence of (Ramakant) Achrekar sir,” said iconic former batsman Sachin Tendulkar as he paid an emotional tribute to his childhood coach who passed away Wednesday. Achrekar, 87, died in Mumbai due to old age-related ailments. “Like many of his students, I learnt my ABCD of cricket under Sir’s guidance,” said the Dronacharya awardee’s most famous ward, in a statement.
“His contribution to my life cannot be captured in words. He built the foundation that I stand on,” he added. Tendulkar, unarguably the greatest batsman in modern cricket, was coached by Achrekar at the Shivaji Park in Mumbai’s Dadar as a child.
The iconic cricketer, who is now retired, has been quite vocal about the coach’s contribution in shaping him. As a player, Achrekar competed in just one first-class match but was instrumental in moulding Tendulkar as a child, often driving him to stadiums on his scooter.