Apart from being one of the greatest fast bowlers to have come out of India, Ajit Agarkar was also known for being a very handy lower-order batsman. While Agarkar was the fastest to 50 ODI wickets, he also had three ODI fifties to his name. In Test cricket, his only century was an unbeaten 109 against England at Lord’s which helped him get an elusive spot at the historic stadium’s honours board for batsmen.
However, those that saw him batting as a young player in Mumbai would have said that his is also a story of unfulfilled batting potential, considering that legendary coach Ramakant Achrekar — under whom the likes of Sachin Tendulkar blossomed — took Agarkar under his wings after seeing him scoring runs in school cricket.
The 42-year-old spoke about his batting reputation during his younger days in a recent interview with his former India teammate Aakash Chopra on the latter’s Youtube show AakashVani when asked about why he was called the “next Tendulkar” in Mumbai’s cricket circles.
“Actually, it started because I wanted to become a batsman. In school I used to make runs, our coach was the same — Ramakant Achrekar and he must have seen something in me,” said Agarkar.
“Sachin Tendulkar was by then the next big thing to come out of his coaching. Pravin Amre and many others also came before Sachin and were doing well. Many used to come out of his academy.
“I used to make good runs and that was the perception of people. Now when you play well at the age of 16 you go and play IPL but then there was a fixed step to reach the national team.
“I used to make runs and there was news going around that there might be a new batsman coming from Mumbai but at that age you think just of progressing in your game,” Agarkar said.
Tendulkar once gave Agarkar his gloves because of his performances. “Sachin gave me gloves. We were in the same school and he thought someone was performing well and so he gave me gloves. I didn’t know him much then. I did not use his pad, maybe I could have become a better batsman if I had used his pad,” he said.