Award Name : Arjuna Award
Year of Award : 1972
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Eknath Dhondu 'Ekky' Solkar was an Indian all-round cricketer who played 27 Tests and seven One Day Internationals for his country. Eknath was born in Mumbai on 18 March 1948 into a family associated with sports. His father was the head grounds man at Hindu Gymkhana, a social and sporting club in Mumbai. His younger brother Anant Solkar has played first class cricket matches and Ranji matches and has excelled in school cricket. After battling with alcohol addiction for a long time he is now coaching young cricketers free of cost in Mumbai. Eknath too started his career as a school cricketer, and has captained his team, apart from being a team member of India’s tour to Sri Lanka.
Solkar made his Test debut against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1969-70 and volunteered to field at short-leg. He became the first Indian Test Cricketer to be born post independence. He had a successful series against Australia the same season and against the West Indies in 1971. He was selected to open the bowling along with Abid Ali against England in England in 1971. In the first Test match of that series, he scored 67 and formed a 92-run partnership with Gundappa Viswanath which helped India take first innings lead. In the third Test at the Oval, he returned figures of 3/28 in the first innings, scored 44 runs, and took two catches, thereby played an important part in India's win. In the 1972-73 home series against England, he scored 75 in the first Test at Delhi. He took 12 catches in the five-Test series. He did not play well against England in the away series of 1974, but dismissed Geoffrey Boycott in three successive innings. He scored his only Test century against the West Indies in Mumbai in 1975. Apart from his 53 catches in 27 Tests, he made 1,068 runs at an average of 25.42 and claimed 18 wickets at an average of 59.44. In the 16 years of his first-class cricket career, he scored 6,851 runs at an average of 29.27, including eight centuries, took 276 wickets at an average of 30.01 and took 190 catches. In Test Cricket, his job as bowler was to bowl 4-5 overs to take the shine off the new ball as much as possible before the Indian spinners took over. For Mumbai's Ranji team he formed an opening bowlers' tandem with Abdul Ismail. In the 1973 Ranji final, he bowled off-breaks on a notorious turner and took 5 wickets to help Mumbai to a famous victory in a match dominated by the spin bowling of Venkat, V. V. Kumar, and Shivalkar. In 1972, he received the Arjuna Award.