Thousands of people including Sachin Tendulkar and young cricketers bade a tearful adieu to legendary cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar in Mumbai on Thursday. Achrekar, 87, died in Mumbai on Wednesday evening following a heart attack, plunging the cricket world in sorrow. Thousands paid homage to the coach as his mortal remains were consigned to the flames at the Shivaji Park crematorium, he still sporting his trademark grey golf cap. Since morning, people, including his most high-profile students such as Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Chandrakant Pandit, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and other first-class cricketers, trooped to their Guru’s residence in Dadar and paid their last respects at Achrekar’s flower-bedecked body.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President and neighbour Raj Thackeray, Nitin Sardesai, Bharatiya Janata Party Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar, leaders and representatives of several other political parties, cricketing bodies and clubs also visited his house.
A group of young cricket players clad in full field gear lined up on both sides of the road as the funeral cortege made its way to the crematorium. They raised their bats in a symbolic ‘grand salute’ to the much-adored teacher.
Thousands, including teary-eyed Tendulkar, walked with the procession.
The Maharashtra government did not accord an anticipated state funeral honour to Achrekar, acknowledged as the ‘Bhishmacharya’ of Indian cricket with several national and international honours to his credit.
Later, Housing Minister Prakash Mehta told media persons he would find out why a state funeral was denied to such “a great personality”.
Honoured with a Padma Shri in 2010 and Dronacharya Award in 1990, Achrekar’s sterling contributions to the gentleman’s game were acknowledged in the 2017 biopic, “Sachin: A Million Dreams”.
(With IANS inputs)