Mumbai: Former Mumbai Ranji Trophy cricketer P K (Joe) Kamath, who was instrumental in shaping former captain Ajit Wadekar`s career, has passed away.
A bachelor, Kamath, a right handed batsman who played in 18 first class games in the 1950s and scored 816 runs with two centuries and later became a renowned coach, breathed his last here on Friday after prolonged illness.
He was 81.
Kamath was also the coach of the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team led by Dilip Vengsarkar when champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar made his debut in the 1988-89 season.
Wadekar told reporters that it was because of Kamath that he took up to playing the game in serious vein after being inducted into the Ruia college nets as a youngster.
"Ruia college captain Nandu Rege saw me playing tennis ball cricket and asked me to report to the college nets. Till that time I had never played for any college. (Coach) Kamath saw the talent in me. He inspired me and instigated me to play cricket," the former India skipper and chief selector said.
"He was a fine coach who allowed the player to develop his natural style. If someone was a good hooker of the ball he would encourge it by giving tips as to the positioning of the body and feet to play the shot. He never tried to change the natural style," Wadekar added.
Kamath`s one-time Mumbai teammate Chandu Patankar, who played alongside the former against the visiting Commonwealth Eleven led by Australian A B Barnett in 1953-54, said the departed cricketer was a very talented player who did not do full justice to it.
"He was a fine cricketer who could open the innings and was a fine fielder. He was also a very good wicket keeper but was temperamental and did not do full justice to his talent," Patankar said.
Kamath played against the visiting West Indies side led by Gerry Alexander in 1958-59 for Bihar Governor`s Eleven at Jamshedpur, before hanging up his cricket gear after one more Ranji Trophy match the next season to take up coaching.