And that is Mankad’s hundred!

The press box, like the players’ dressing room, is a private space for professionals. Non-media persons are generally not welcomed partly because it’s a high-pressure working zone for the media, and partly because there is lot of banter during unexciting phases of the game out in the middle which the media does not want those outside the fraternity to hear.

There are characters in the media who come alive during such phases to raise a chuckle. One such character was the late commentator, Suresh Saraiya. During the 1969-70 Ranji Trophy final between Bombay and Rajasthan, Ashok Mankad dropped a sitter.

Saraiya, who was seated in the press box and never to lose an opportunity for a wisecrack, said: “That’s the 100th catch dropped by Ashok Mankad.” Saraiya said this mainly for the attention of a newbie who was furiously taking copious notes. Predictably, the still-wet-behind-the-ears reporter jotted down what Saraiya had said in jest something regulars at the press box understood. But the cub reporter took that as Gospel and included in his match report!

On reading the report the following day, a furious Mankad walked up to a group of mediapersons with the offending newspaper in his hand and asked: “I’m looking out for the reporter who wrote this. I want to know the details of the other 99 catches I dropped!”

It’s not known if the reporter covered the match that day or if Mankad managed to corner him!