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Cricket is a game to be enjoyed, and a cricketer like Vinoo Mankad made it even more enjoyable. The outstanding aspect of his game was the powerhouse of stamina that he was. This stamina could well be attributed to his zest for physical fitness. He believed in keeping fit to enjoy the game and not playing the game to keep himself fit.

Regularity in everything he did was the norm as far as he was concerned, be it the exercise and training regime, nets during the tournaments, or eating habits. After the match, he would head straight for home. Exercise everyday in the mornings when not playing a match was mandatory. During matches, he would only hop along the ground in the mornings. Meals used to be light, with dinner a little heavier than the other meals. He avoided going to parties and functions as much as possible, and gave priority only to significant official functions. He was an early sleeper and riser. His objective was to reduce any avoidable stresses and in the process, increase his playing career.>

It was this discipline that enabled him to establish a world record for playing in the English season (for Lancashire League) for 15 consecutive years. Being a Professional, he could represent any team in the Indian domestic season. Thus, he spent six months playing in domestic matches and international matches in India or abroad, and the remaining six playing in the English league.

Another skill that this great man possessed was the ability to adapt to different conditions with ease. This was emphasized when he was called upon to play a Test match straight from a league match during India's tour of England in 1952. I have written at length about his memorable performance in his 'comeback' Test in the previous article.

For Vinoo Mankad, the game was always greater than the individual. He always put the game ahead of himself. He achieved so much, but never let the limelight divert his attention from the game. He bowled, spinning the ball viciously, till his fingers started bleeding and beyond. Cricket was so dominant on his mind that he was not aware of his personal achievements. When he completed 100 wickets in Test cricket, he was pleasantly surprised by the clapping of the crowd and quite mystified when Vijay Merchant congratulated him in the pavilion!

It wasn't that he was interested only in his own growth as a cricketer. He loved to teach and guide youngsters, in India as well as England. He took it upon himself to extend a helping hand to newcomers and nurturing their talent. Many a career owed itself to his sound advice and encouragement in its early stages. There was no international cricket during the six years of the Second World War, but domestic cricket continued to played in India. Mankad played in the Pentangular and Ranji Trophy matches, and utilized the spare time for coaching. He was appointed coach by various institutions.

A versatile cricketer, he batted at 11 numbers in Test cricket. He is the only Test cricketer to enjoy this distinction, besides England's Wilfred Rhodes. He derived immense pleasure from playing cricket, irrespective of the position or role he had to play in the team.

He was always thankful to cricket for whatever he had achieved. From a humble background and anonymity he had got name, fame and wealth; all because of cricket. Despite his talents, he remained modest till the very end, giving all the credit to cricket for providing him with the opportunity to make a difference.

Truly, he was a unique cricketer, an extraordinary individual. They don't make them like him any more.


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