Vijay-manjrekar

Born September 26, 1931, Vijay Laxman Manjrekar was probably the best player of fast-bowling to have ever played for India. A bit of a traveller on the domestic circuit, Manjrekar played for as many as six state sides in the Ranji Trophy. Along with his son Sanjay, who also went on to serve the country for a considerable while, he forms one of the best father-son duos to have played the game. On his birth anniversary, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 20 facts about the legend.

1.  Big thing in a small package

Manjrekar, a diminutive batsman, had no problem facing the fastest of the bowlers of his generation. Though small in size, he made it big in the world of cricket.

2.  Debut

Manjrekar made his debut against England at Kolkata in December 1951 and scored a composed 48, marking the beginning of a great career.

3.  First ton

He scored his first ton against England at Leeds the following year, which was also his first away Test.  Playing at number 5, he scored a valiant 133 in the first innings. However, he scored a first-ball duck in the second innings and India lost the game.

4.  Record stand

A stellar feature of his maiden ton was his record partnership with team’s captain Vijay Hazare. Their fourth-wicket partnership of 222 continues to be a record for the fourth-wicket between India and England. Following year, en route his 118 against the West Indies at Kingston, Manjrekar shared the then record second-wicket partnership with Pankaj Roy when the two added 237 runs, with the latter scoring a fine 150.

5.  Occasional bowler

Manjrekar occasionally dabbled a bit with off-spin during his career. Though his innocuous spin bowling fetched him 20 First-Class wickets, his sole victim in Test cricket remained New Zealand’s Noel McGregor, who also happened to be the only wicket to fall in that particular innings from the 1955 Delhi Test. Incidentally, Manjrekar also played one of his best Test innings in the same match, when his 177 helped India draw the game.

6.  Makeshift keeper

An occasional keeper, Manjrekar has six stumpings to his credit in First-Class cricket.

7.  Best series

Manjrekar’s most productive Test series’ were the ones against New Zealand in India in the year 1955-56, where he scored 386 runs at 77.20 and against England in India in 1961-62, where he ended-up scoring 586 runs at an astounding average 83.71.

8.  Win over the Aussies

Manjrekar played a significant hand in India’s second Test victory over Australia. In the Bombay (now Mumbai) Test from the 1964-65 series, his 59 and 39 in the match proved crucial in the end when India won the match by two wickets.

9.  Test centuries

Manjrekar scored seven Test centuries for India. His last hundred came incidentally in his last Test match, where he scored 102 not out against New Zealand at Madras (now Chennai) in 1965. He never played for India again.

10.  Fitness issues

Manjrekar had fitness issues late in his career when he put on considerable weight. This had an adverse effect on his technique and footwork.

11.  A wanderer

Manjrekar played for six different teams in the Ranji Trophy, namely Bombay, Bengal, Andhra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

12.  Stats

He scored 3,208 runs at an average of 39.12 during his career spanning almost a decade and a half. In First-class cricket, he scored 12,832 runs at an average just below 50. He was most prolific in the Ranji Trophy, where he scored 3,734 runs at 57.44.

13.  Unique record

One of the Test greats, Manjrekar probably could never have thrived in today’s T20 age, for he holds the unique record for scoring most Test runs without hitting a single six in his entire career.

14.  Like father, like son

Manjrekar’s son Sanjay also played cricket at the highest level for India. He went on to represent India in 37 Tests and 74 One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Sanjay, who is a renowned television presenter and commentator these days, has a First-Class average of above 55 and is considered as a First-Class heavyweight.

15.  Father-son combo

Manjrekar and his son Sanjay collectively scored 5,251 runs for India from 92 Tests (Vijay’s 3,208 runs from 55 Tests and Sanjay’s 2043 runs from 37 Tests.) If we consider the minimum runs scored by a batsman from a father-son combination, the Manjrekars come third on the list, after the duos of Hanif Mohammad-Shoaib Mohammad and Dave Nourse-Dudley Nourse, with Sanjay’s 2043 runs coming after Shoaib’s 2705 Test runs and Dave’s 2,234 runs. Thus, they are one of the only three father-son combinations to score 2,000 Test runs each.

16.  DD Hindlekar

Manjrekar’s maternal uncle Dattaram Dharmaji Hindlekar also played four Tests for India between the period 1936 to 1946. A wicketkeeper batsman, Hindlekar could have played more for India but it was a misfortune that his career coincided with the World War II. They form a very rare case of three generations playing Tests.

17.  Tatt

Manjrekar wanted to become an off-spinner, modelling himself on Lancashire legend Roy Tattersall. He was nicknamed Tatt as a result.

18.  Gavaskar + Viswanath = Vijay Manjrekar

Manjrekar had the ability to play late, that made him a fine cutter of the ball. He could play late against the best of the spinners on rank turners and still cut them for fours. Legendary off-spinner EAS Prasanna once had a torrid time against Manjrekar during the Ranji semi-final match between Rajasthan and Mysore.

In that game, the ball was turning so much so that even the likes of Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar had no control over it. Prasanna once spoke about that game in an interview, saying, “Usually on a turning track, no batsman takes a risk of cutting an offie but here was Manjrekar, cutting with such mastery that we spinners looked novices. He scored 175. With the defence of Gavaskar and strokes of Viswanath, I have no hesitation in saying that Gavaskar + Viswanath = Vijay Manjrekar.” This compliment from Prasanna defines the class of Manjrekar.

19.  At the receiving end

There’s a famous incident where Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi had invited his teammates for an invitational match at his estate in Bhopal. On their day-off, he took the entire team out in the jungles of Gwalior, where he had arranged for a prank; a ‘fake encounter’ with the ‘bandits’. A terribly frightened Manjrekar kept pleading with the ‘bandits’ that since he was an ordinary clerk and not a Maharaja, they shouldn’t harm him. His ordeal ended when Raj Singh Dungarpur came and stopped Pataudi from continuing with the prank.

20.  Death

Manjrekar breathed his last on October 18, 1983, in Madras, where he had gone for a sportsmen’s gathering.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is senior content writer with Criclife. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed at @CricfreakTweets)