Sat, 06 Jun 2020

Former India opener Madhav Apte dies at 86

23 Sep 2019, 22:42 GMT+10

I got to play against him at Shivaji Park when I was 14.

Still remember the time when he & Dungarpur Sir let me play for the CCI as a 15-year old. He always supported me & was a well wisher.

May his Soul Rest In Peace

- Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) September 23, 2019

Shishir Hattangadi, the prolific Mumbai run-getter from the 1980s and early 1990s, said, "I hadn't met him for a couple of months, he hadn't been keeping well. There were age-related complications. I was told that he suffered a cardiac arrest this morning. The memories are of a lovely human being, he embraced sports romantics, a lovely man to spend time with.

"He would tell you stories of people and events you have only heard of. But he rarely spoke about his own career. Very dignified, he didn't want to talk about it. He was a senior that you respected, someone you could spend a lot of time with. A very simple man. A great loss, but he lived his life well."

In all, Apte's first-class career ran 17 years, from 1951-52 to 1967-68. He scored a first-class ton on debut for Mumbai in 1952, and promptly went on to make his Test debut as a 20-year-old during Pakistan's tour of India later that year. Next up was the tour of the Caribbean.

ALSO READ: In conversation with Madhav Apte

Against a West Indies attack that included Sonny Ramadhin, Alf Valentine and Frank King, Apte struck 64 and 52 in the first Test, 64 again in the second, and followed that up with that unbeaten second-innings 163 in the third Test to secure a draw for India and average 51.11 for the series.

Following the tour of the West Indies, India had no Tests scheduled in 1954. He was part of the Silver Jubilee Commonwealth XI match in 1954, playing for India against West Indies to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the BCCI. But he wasn't at his best by the time India's next Test assignment came about, and was overlooked.

Apte, whose younger brother Arvind also played a Test in 1959, had begun his career as a legbreak bowler before intervention from the great Vinoo Mankad - his coach at college - turned him into an opening batsman. Apte later confessed that he learnt the art of batting by observing Vijay Merchant bat in the nets every morning in Mumbai. It was Merchant's subsequent injury in 1952 that handed Apte a first-class debut for Mumbai.

After his first-class retirement, Apte moved to Malaysia on work but continued to turn out in the Kanga League in Mumbai, representing the club side Jolly Cricketers. He played over 50 seasons of the Kanga League, last featuring in a game at the age of 70. Between 1948 and 2002, Apte made more than 5000 runs in the Kanga League.

In 1989, Apte became the president of Cricket Club of India in Mumbai, one of the oldest clubs for the sport in the country. He was also instrumental in bringing a 14-year-old Sachin Tendulkar into the CCI side. Recalling what he thought of Tendulkar's talent back then, Apte once said: "One sees a hell of a lot of talent at the age of 14, 16, and so on. Not all of that talent really matures because the future, no one can predict. [But] at that time, my comment in the dressing room was, 'If this boy keeps his head on his shoulders, he will play for India sooner than later.' But even the lord almighty could not have seen that he would go on to get hundred hundreds and so on."

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