By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) Former Mumbai cricketer Vasoo Paranjpe, known as a mentor to some of India’s top cricketers, was revered by the country’s former internationals for his knowledge of cricket. His advice was heard with rapt attention.
Paranjpe, whose son Jatin played ODI cricket for India and had served as national selector recently, passed away in Mumbai on Monday. He was 82.
“A unique quality about him was that he was never intimidated by the big names. He respected them, but he wasn’t a yes-man. And that is a very rare quality in cricketing circles. Somebody who has never played Test cricket will never challenge and open his mouth in front of someone who has played 100 Test matches. But Vasu Paranjpe did that and people listened. That is where he was exceptional,” former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar told IANS.
“He was very intelligent and someone who was ahead of his time. So very often I would see him get frustrated when he got into a cricketing debate with somebody who just wasn’t able to understand the point he was driving home. That happened a lot with him,” added Manjrekar.
Paranjpe was the captain of Dadar Union Cricket Club and had led former Indian batting mainstays Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar at the club level.
He was also revered as a coach.
From Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar to Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Rohit Sharma, Paranjpe touched many cricketers’ lives.
“Vasoo was a mentor and an outstanding coach,” Vengsarkar told IANS.
“His life revolved around cricket. He used to inspire young cricketers, talk to them and guide them,” added Vengsarkar, who played under Paranjpe at Dadar Union in early 1970s when the club shared an iconic rivalry with Shivaji Park Gymkhana.
The rivalry was known as the Mumbai version of Battle of Roses which was originally used to describe the Lancashire vs Yorkshire rivalry in English County Championship.
Paranjpe was the coach of the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team when Vengsarkar had led it in 1988-89. He was also the coach at a camp in Delhi for the Indian cricket team ahead of the 1987 World Cup.
“He was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He was critical for the last 3-4 days,” Mumbai Cricket Association secretary Sanjay Naik told IANS.
Gavaskar was among those who visited Paranjpe’s house to pay respects.
Manjrekar seconded Vengsarkar’s point that he could buoy you up.
“He was an excellent motivator. If you were feeling down, he had a way with words. He and his wife Lalita Paranjpe were a couple that Mumbai cricket feels really proud of. She also helped me during my struggle with completing graduation as I was following cricket a lot. They helped a lot of people,” added Manjrekar.
Current India coach Ravi Shastri tweeted his condolences, saying, “Really saddened at the demise of Vasoo Paranjape. He was an institution in the game with a real positive vibe in whatever he did. Condolences to @jats72 and the family. God bless his soul.”
Former India captain and the country’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, Anil Kumble, also tweeted his condolences.
“Saddened to hear the passing of Vasu Paranjape. Two years of my formative years at the National camp was a great learning under his tutelage. He will be missed. My condolences to @jats72 and family,” Kumble tweeted.
Paranjpe was the one who advised Dravid to focus on batting and not become a wicketkeeper-batsman.
He had also predicted that Sachin Tendulkar would become a batting star.
Current India Test opener Rohit Sharma has been quoted as saying in a book written by Jatin and cricket journalist Anand Vasu, “The Cricket Drona — for the love of Vasoo Paranjpe”: “When I look back, I realise how shrewdly Sir had forged the path that led me to the world stage of cricket. I was not from a big club or a big school or a college team. I was an outlier. But Sir’s recommendations to Pravin Amre, Kiran More and Dilip Vengsarkar got people talking about me, and I delivered on that promise. Without Sir by my side in those early years, I would not have been able to achieve as much as I fortunately have.”
Paranjpe represented Mumbai and Baroda, and played 29 first-class matches, scoring 785 runs.