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
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
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.