Former Indian cricketer Vinoo Mankad is a native legend in his own right. He is widely regarded as one of the finest all-rounders of his generation.
Like his famous father, Ashok Mankad was also a former Indian cricketer. But he didn’t necessarily follow in his father’s footsteps in terms of cricketing skill.
Ashok was a top-order batsman of great quality. Although his numbers in the International arena didn’t particularly do justice to his ability, he was still a highly revered cricketer on the domestic scene.
We dive deep into the career of Ashok Mankad and beyond while unraveling all the riveting stories.
Not “That” Mankad
Vinoo Mankad is infamously known for running out the non-striker at the other end in an incident called Mankading. But it’s often forgotten that he was an equally outstanding cricketer. Vinoo Mankad is widely regarded as arguably the greatest all-rounder that India has ever produced.
As good a cricketer as Ashok Mankad was, he spent his entire career under his father’s shadow. Neither did he have his father’s infamous antics nor his eccentric enigma. But he was in his own right a very polished top-order batsman who served Indian cricket to the best of his abilities.
School Cricket Prodigy
Little Ashok burst onto the scene with his unbelievable School Cricket performances. He kept on breaking record after record at all age levels including the under-19s. His reputation as a prodigy was cemented during the Harris Shield when he kept on smashing double and triple centuries for fun.
He was the then record holder of scoring the most runs in a single School Cricket season. The record was later broken by none other than Vinod Kambli after a quarter of a century.
First Class Career
After having a splendid season at the School Cricket level, he was drafted into the age-level state sides.
He continued to impress there as well and earned his first first-class cap in the process. Although his initial first-class seasons didn’t follow the trajectory of his earlier career, he still had a surreal Ranji Trophy record to his name.
He along with his contemporaries knew that a national call-up was not very far after those string of performances. The national team came calling eventually. He was called into the side for Test matches against New Zealand.
But his dismal outing in his debut series got him dropped from the national setup after the series.
Ashok Mankad was highly revered as one of the sharpest minds in the history of Indian Cricket. His unmatched captaincy and leadership skills earned him comparisons with the legendary Mike Brearly.
Such was his acumen that he could win games out of nothing. As a captain, he led Mumbai to 2 Ranji trophy titles. Mumbai proved to be an unstoppable force in the domestic circuit due to his astute leadership.
It was highly unfortunate that he could never captain his national team at the highest level. His inconsistency with the bat in hand never let him settle into the team. He was often asked to open the batting, a role he particularly disliked. But he did that for the sake of the balance of the team.
All these features have eventually made him one of the best captains India ever had.
Ranji Trophy Legend
Ashok Mankad’s Ranji Trophy record is impeccable. He held an average of around 77 throughout his career. He once held the record for most centuries in the competition alongside the great Vijay Hazare.
His record is so frighteningly good that no batsman to date in the history of the Ranji Trophy has averaged more than him.
The reason behind his success as a highly prolific batsman was credited to his ability to play spin exceptionally well. No matter how lethal the bowling attack of the opposition used to be, he almost always managed to accumulate runs. Due to the lack of quality fast bowlers in Indian cricket at that time, his susceptibility to short balls was hardly exposed.
He still stands as the undying legend of the domestic cricket of India.
The lineage of the Mankad family produced some of the best athletes that India has ever seen. Ashok’s father Vinoo was the finest all-rounder of world cricket in his time.
Both Ashok Mankad’s wife and his sons were accomplished tennis players in India. His tennis prowess also earned him a state-level scholarship at the junior level. His son Harsh was ranked as the number 1 junior and senior singles player of India.
Contribution to Indian Cricket
The excellent captaincy attributes of Ashok Mankad came in handy later as a coach. He had many successful coaching stints at the domestic level. His most notable spell came during Mumbai’s all-conquering reign in the Indian domestic arena.
He is credited for grooming the most talented spinners of India at that time with his reading of the game. He nurtured each of those young talents before their exposure to International or higher levels of cricket.
Legacy of Ashok Mankad
A forever free spirit, Ashok Mankad’s tales and stories continue to live on. Often overshadowed by his high-profile father, he still managed to make quite a name for himself in all aspects of cricket.
His cricketing and humane legacy will continue to live on over the years. As a captain, he was second to none when it came to cricket brain and sharpness.
His dressing room personality and warmth have set examples around the arc of Indian cricket to follow. It will be very difficult, if not impossible to trace a man like him.
An undisputed hero of Indian cricket, Mankad rarely got the credit that he so very deserved. His humble persona and livewire attitude always kept the smiles tumbling around.
It’s unfortunate that the cricket-mad subcontinent never really got to witness his full potential at the International level. Despite that, he has stamped his legacy in Indian soil with his lineage producing quality athletes of this country.
After all, is said and done, he would rest in peace as a proud sportsman and gentleman of the Indian soil.