Cricket has witnessed the rise of numerous legends who have left an indelible mark on the sport. One such legend is Vinoo Mankad, an extraordinary all-rounder who is often overlooked in the annals of cricket history. Mankad’s exceptional skills with both bat and ball, coupled with his record-breaking performances, make him one of India’s greatest cricketers. In this article, we delve into the life and career of Vinoo Mankad, shining a light on his remarkable achievements and the legacy he left behind.
Early Life and Introduction to Cricket
Vinoo Mankad was born on April 12, 1917, in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India. From a young age, he displayed a natural aptitude for cricket and honed his skills on the dusty grounds of his hometown. Mankad’s talent soon caught the attention of local cricket enthusiasts, and it wasn’t long before he made his mark on the domestic cricket scene.
At the age of 20, Mankad played five unofficial Tests against Lord Tennyson’s touring side in 1937-38. His exceptional performances in these matches, where he topped both the batting and bowling averages, drew acclaim from Tennyson himself, who predicted that Mankad would easily secure a spot in a World XI. However, Mankad’s cricketing journey was put on hold due to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Rise to Prominence
Following the war, Mankad finally made his debut for the Indian cricket team in 1946, at the age of 29. He wasted no time in making his presence felt on the international stage. In the historic 1946 tour of England, Mankad etched his name in the record books by amassing 1,120 runs and taking 129 wickets, a record for any touring player.
Mankad’s true prowess as an all-rounder was on display in the 1952 Lord’s Test against England. In this match, Mankad showcased his exceptional batting skills by scoring a staggering 184 runs, which at the time was the highest individual score by an Indian in Test cricket. He also contributed with the ball, taking five wickets in the match. This outstanding performance earned him the accolade of being the best all-rounder in the world, alongside the legendary Keith Miller.
The Mankad’s Test and the Opening Partnership
The 1952 Lord’s Test holds a special place in cricket history as it became synonymous with Vinoo Mankad’s name. The match is often referred to as “Mankad’s Test” due to his outstanding contributions with both bat and ball. Mankad’s 184 runs and excellent bowling figures of 97-36-231-5 left an indelible mark on the cricketing world.
However, it was not just Mankad’s individual brilliance that made him a cricketing icon. His opening partnership with Pankaj Roy in 1956 remains one of the most cherished feats in Indian cricket history. The duo put on a record-breaking stand of 413 runs against New Zealand, a partnership that stood as a world record for an astonishing 52 years. Mankad’s contribution of 231 runs in that innings remained the highest individual Test score by an Indian for nearly three decades.
Mankad’s All-Round Brilliance
Vinoo Mankad’s prowess as an all-rounder extended beyond his batting exploits. As a left-arm spinner, he was a force to be reckoned with. In his 44 Test matches, Mankad claimed 162 wickets, including eight five-wicket hauls, at an average of 32.32. His ability to deceive batsmen with his flight, turn, and accuracy made him a formidable opponent.
Mankad’s exceptional skills were evident in the 1952 Madras Test against England, where he played a pivotal role in India’s first-ever Test victory. Mankad’s remarkable bowling figures of 8 for 55 and 4 for 53 in the two innings played a significant role in securing the historic win.
Legacy and Recognition
Despite his incredible achievements, Vinoo Mankad’s legacy has often been overshadowed by other cricketing greats. However, his contributions to the game have not gone unnoticed. In 2010, when espncricinfo.com assembled an eminent jury to select an all-time great India XI, Mankad was unanimously chosen as one of the four cricketers alongside Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Kapil Dev.
Mankad’s impact on the sport extends beyond his individual performances. He is the only Indian cricketer to have a Test named after him, the 1952 Lord’s Test against England. Additionally, the term “Mankading” was coined after his famous run-out of Bill Brown in 1947-48, where he adhered to the rules of the game but faced criticism for his actions.
Unfulfilled Potential and Statistical Comparisons
When analyzing Vinoo Mankad’s career, it is impossible not to wonder what he could have achieved if circumstances had been different. Mankad lost almost nine years of his career due to the Second World War and played significantly fewer Test matches than his contemporaries.
However, if we were to extrapolate Mankad’s statistics and compare them to other legendary all-rounders like Kapil Dev, the numbers paint an intriguing picture. Mankad’s batting average of 31.47 and bowling average of 32.32, achieved in 44 Tests, suggest that had he played as many matches as Kapil Dev, he would have scored nearly 6,300 runs with 15 centuries and taken 483 wickets with 24 five-wicket hauls.
Remembering a Legend
It is unfortunate that Vinoo Mankad is not as widely remembered as some of his counterparts. In 2006, Virender Sehwag’s admission that he had never heard of Mankad caused consternation among ex-cricketers. Dilip Vengsarkar even suggested introducing a theory paper on cricketing history to ensure that players have a deep appreciation for the game’s past.
While knowledge of cricketing history may not directly enhance a player’s skills, understanding the achievements and legacy of cricketing giants like Vinoo Mankad can inspire and ignite a sense of pride. Mankad’s contributions to Indian cricket will forever be cherished and celebrated by those who recognize the impact he had on the game.
In conclusion, Vinoo Mankad’s exceptional talent, versatility, and record-breaking performances make him a true legend of the game. His all-round brilliance, highlighted by his remarkable batting and bowling feats, solidified his place among the greatest cricketers that India has ever produced. Though his name may have faded from popular memory over time, Mankad’s contributions to cricket will forever be etched in the annals of the sport’s history.