Ramnath Parkar was a man full of potential before his career was sacrificed at the altar of the Indian selectors' Russian Roulette. On this day in 1999, he succumbed to a road accident that kept him comatose for 43 months.
Died on 11th August 1999
Born in Bombay, Ramnath Parkar was dedicated to making it as a cricketer from the moment he could hold a bat. His early years were spent at the famous Jamboree Maidan in Worli, after which Vinoo Mankad took him under his wings and he began to train at LR Tairsee Nets.
Parkar was the first protege of Ramakant Achrekar, the man who coached the great Sachin Tendulkar. His potential fetched him an early first-class debut and he juggled at job at the State Bank of India to foot his bills.
In the later years of the 1960s, he found a way into the Mumbai Ranji Team but not as a part of the XI- his excellent instincts while fielding at any position made him the perfect substitute fielder. As per his teammates, he could "pluck catches out of the batsmen's shoelaces at silly point" and could effect run-outs from virtually anywhere in the field.
His Ranji debut was always around the corner and it came at the dying stages of the tournament in 1970/71. Parkar's debut innings was ordinary but when the team needed him in the fourth innings, he was up to the task.
Another respite was given to him in the next game and he repaid his coach's trust by hitting a century and taking Mumbai to the final. Another century beckoned him in the finals and Mumbai eventually won the match by 48 runs.
Ramnath's next season defied all beliefs. On tracks, where the batsmen found it hard to put bat to ball, he played one shot after the other. In the semi-finals against Mysore, he top-scored in both innings against the likes of Chandrasekhar and Prasanna.
With his quick footwork, he negated the spin they extracted from the pitch. The way he mercilessly punished them had seldom been seen before. Mumbai again went on to win the Ranji Trophy and Parkar was declared Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year.
After his belligerence in the Irani Trophy, he was selected as Gavaskar's opening partner against England at home. He just ever played the two test matches; despite his spark against the English, he was never given the long rope by selectors. 35 runs remained his highest Test score and he gave way to Chetan Chauhan.
Parkar kept performing for Mumbai but was never selected for the 1975 World Cup to everyone's surprise. After that snub, his runs kept drying up and eventually, he was replaced by up and coming players.
His last hundred came against Uttar Pradesh in the Quarter-Finals of the 1980/81 season. Mumbai went on to defeat Delhi and win the Ranji Trophy but for Parkar, that was the end. He never played a cricket match again.
After his retirement, he coached at the Elf-Vengsarkar Cricket Academy and worked at Tata Chemicals. On 31st December 1995, as he was on his way to the academy when he met with an accident and sustained severe injuries to his skull.
Tatas paid the bill and Parkar kept fighting for his life at Jaslok Hospital. For 43 months, he remained in a coma. When there was a ray of sunshine and recovery became a real possibility, Parkar died on this day in 1999.
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