Dubai: Ramakant Achrekar, the coach who shaped Sachin Tendulkar into a modern day great, turned 79 on Saturday. A secret which he kept to himself about Tendulkar became public during the birthday celebration function.
During Achrekar's visit to Dubai to conduct a coaching camp, the Dronacharya awardee told Gulf News that the secret behind Tendulkar's success is his huge hunger for runs. What he deliberately hid was the incident of a slap that he once gave Tendulkar, who was his most favourite student, realise the importance of hard work which developed his hunger for runs.
This incident which Achrekar kept as a secret for years was made public by Tendulkar itself during the birthday function at the Maharashtra Cricket Association office in Bandra. Narrating the incident Tendulkar said: "After finishing school, I used to hurry to my aunt's place for lunch. By that time, Sir (Achrekar) used to organise matches for me. He used to tell the opposition that I'd be batting at number four. One day, instead of playing a match, I joined a friend at the Wankhede Stadium to watch the Shardashram English-medium boys take on the Shardashram Marathi-medium boys in the Harris Shield final and cheer our team."
Achrekar was also at the Wankhede stadium and Tendulkar went to greet him. "We spotted Sir and went to greet him. He knew I'd missed the match, but he still asked me how I performed in it. I told him I thought that I'd skip the match in order to cheer for our team. I got a tight slap on my face. The tiffin box in my hand flew and all its contents spread across," Tendulkar said.
Achrekar told the stunned Tendulkar: "You don't have to be here to cheer others. Play in such a way that others cheer you.' Tendulkar went on to say: "Since that day, I began practicing very hard and put in a lot of hours. If not for that day, I might have been cheering others from the stands," he said.
Tendulkar also narrated how Achrekar never asked him to jog across the Shivaji Park ground before the start of practice but used to tell him after the training session and when he was totally exhausted to run in full gear with bat and pads. "Years later, I realised how much that running with the gear helped me."