Remembering Vinoo Mankad on his 100th Birthday: Guest Column by Ritesh Misra
Remembering Vinoo Mankad on his 100th Birthday:
Guest Column by Ritesh Misra
Vinoo Mankad passed away in 1978 when he was only 61. His 100th birthday would have been on the 12th of April, 2017.
This cricketing giant is one of only 3 batsmen to bat from all positions from 1 to 11 in Test cricket, the other two being Syd Gregory and Wilfred Rhodes. India’s Ravi Shastri and Farokh Engineer are not included as they did not bat at 11. Nor is Pakistan’s Nasim-ul-Ghani as technically , though he opened, not having faced the 1st ball he did not bat at 1.
Let us remember this great cricketer on his 100th birth anniversary year.
My tribute to him is based on some very interesting aspects of his life and is enriched by my recent interaction on the topic with some greats of the game at a function in a Mumbai which i was privileged to attend.
While Vinoo was a great cricketer, he was also a great coach as well. There is near unanimity that he had incredible insights on all aspects of cricket.
Recently in the Legends Club Celebration of Vinoo’s 100th Birthday on 12th April, 2017 at CCI, Mumbai, Madhav Apte who has played with him said something interesting. He said that he was a spinner but one fine day, Vinoo Makad asked him to open the batting. He was stunned and questioned Vinoo who retorted, “Are you the coach or I am? I see an opener in you”.
4 years later, Madhav Apte was walking out to open the batting for India in test matches- with interestingly Vinoo Mankad. On the same occasion, Salim Durrani who was also coached by Vinoo spoke highly of him as a coach as well.
Dilip Doshi, also a left arm spinner says that he once asked Vinoo Mankad to talk to him about left arm spin bowling. The answer was interesting. “If i dont see you bowling first, why will i speak to you about it. I would not like to waste my time and yours if you are not worth it.”. Later however he saw Doshi bowl, and liked him. Doshi was eagerly waiting for his comments. Vinoo told him that the way he was bowling he was likely to beat the batsman all day long, but unlikely to take wickets, and he advised him to change his line. Doshi says this keen insight worked for him tremendously.
Sunil Gavaskar revealed that Vinoo Mankad had given him the news when he was first selected for India. He said that Vinoo’s greatness as a coach was ability to decipher what would get a batsman out and ability to implement it as well. Gavaskar said that even at 50 plus, he was able to get batsmen in their prime out, and that too after revealing in advance how he would get the batsman out. Gavaskar also revealed that when Vinoo was ailing and he had gone to see him in hospital he was carrying a thriller fiction book and Vinoo appreciated it saying that a hobby is very important to ward off boredom. Therefore according to Sunil, even when he was unwell, Mankad was a life-coach.
Vinoo was a terrific allrounder and is probably unfairly remembered more for “Mankading” than for his cricket deeds. It is actually a run out, but of the non-striker for backing up too far. Mankad was the 1st bowler who did this and he ran out non-striker Bill Brown in a Test match for backing up too much. He had got Brown out the same way in a tour game as well. Though Brown had been given a warning by Mankad, yet Vinoo was bitterly criticised for the “unsportive act”. However, no less a person than Don Bradman spoke in his favour by pointing out that the non striker was seeking an unfair advantage.
As Bradman said, “For the life of me, I can’t understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the nonstriker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the nonstriker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage.”
However this way of run out is still known as Makading. Recently, Sunil Gavaskar has called very strongly for the term not to be used, just like similar demands for the term “Chinaman” not to be used. He says that as it was the batsman’s fault why should it not be termed “Browned“?
This was a Test match at the Mecca of Cricket, Lord’s. Vinoo was not in the Team as CK Nayudu had not given him a contract and Mankad regretfully signed a Club contract in England. After the team was humiliated in the first Test ( at one time India was 0-4) , the BCCI woke up and after skilful negotiation with the Club got Mankad to play for India.
Vinoo top scored in both innings with 72 and 184 and also took 5 wickets for 196 in a marathon bowling effort of 73 overs. Though India still lost, Mankad gave the team dignity with his sterling effort. Till date, he remains only the 3rd overseas player along with Keith Miller and Garry Sobers whose names are in both the bowling as well as the batting Honours Board at Lords in the same test.
World record Opening partnership
Vinoo along with Pankaj Roy had a world record opening partnership of 413 versus New Zealand at Chennai in 1956.. This record stood for 52 years before Graeme Smith and Neil Mackenzie owned it for their marathon effort versus Bangladesh at Chittagong. In the same innings Vinoo hit 231 which was India’s highest individual score till Sunny Gavaskar took it with his 236 versus West Indies.
Role in India’s maiden Test win
This was against England at Chennai in 1952. Mankad took 8/55 in the 1st innings and 4/53 in the second to help India to an innings win in which Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar scored centuries. This win helped India square the series 1-1 which was a great achievment those days.
Family of cricketers
Vinoo’s son, Ashok Mankad played 22 tests for India and is considered a domestic giant with an average of 76 in Ranji Trophy and terrific captaincy acumen. His international career however did not take off. Possibly whimsical selection is partly responsible as he played his 22 Tests over an 8 year period, often playing one test in a series and shuffling up and down the batting order from 1 to 8. However in the domestic scene he is spoken of with huge respect.
Rahul Mankad too has played 1st class cricket with distinction, playing almost 50 Ranji Matches for Bombay at a time when selection for Bombay team was often more difficult than playing for India. His third son Atul Mankad too played first class cricket, featuring in 3 matches for Saurashtra
This is very important. When his sons started playing 1st class cricket, Vinoo resigned from all committees of BCCI so that his name will not be tainted with allegations of nepotism and favoritism. Isnt this amazing ?
Vinoo you are immortal. We remember you with respect and love on your 100th birth anniversary.