Vinoo Mankad was an Indian cricketer who represented the country as the prominent all-rounder before the rise of Kapil Dev. He played a major role in many historic wins against the top-playing sides during the 1940s and 50s. Basically, he was a batter who is known to play under tough conditions. He can adjust his tactics according to the state of the match. In terms of bowling, he was an orthodox round-arm slow bowler who is well known to mix his chinaman with pace. He was gifted with immense variations in his armory but the prime one was his arm ball that came with the angle of the ball rather than turning. He could able to plan effective strategies against the batter within the first few deliveries he bowled. In 2021, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
Vinoo Mankad was born on Thursday, 12 April 1917 (age 61 years; at the time of his death) in Jamnagar in the erstwhile princely state of Nawangar (present-day Gujarat) The Hindu. Jamnagar is the same place where Indian cricketers Ajay Jadeja and Ravindra Jadeja were born. He started practicing the sport while he was in school. Colonel H. H. Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji II also known as Maharaja Jamsaheb, a noted test cricketer, spotted him there and then took him to England for his further training in 1932. At that time, he was an off-break bowler. A Sussex Professional cricketer Albert Wensley there found that the off-spin would not be feasible for him as he was unable to get a firm grip over the ball while releasing. He then suggested him to go for a leg break and later became his coach. He taught him the art of flightening and to get help from a seaming wicket.
He became a prominent face with his all-round performance in the High School Shield Trophy finals while playing against the Alfred High School, Rajkot. He scored 35 and 92 in both innings helping his side to a victory. Due to World War II, he had to wait for a long while to make his test debut in 1946. He consistently performed from thereon, and emerged as a match-winner in several historic tournaments. He retired from all forms of cricket in 1962. But before that, he carved his name on both batting and bowling honour boards at Lords and bestowed the cricket fraternities with a new way of dismissal named after him.
He was born in a Vadnagra Nagar Brahmin.
Wife and Children
He married two times; one in 1945 at an age of 28 with Manorama Vachharajani and the couple had three sons named Ashok Mankad (died in 2008 during sleep), Atul Mankad (died in 2011 after a brief illness), and Rahul Mankad (1955-present). He then married Saraswati Mankad (date unknown).
His all sons were professional cricketers. His eldest son Ashok Mankad was married to Nirupama Mankad, a former Indian Tennis player.
He has two grandsons named Mihir Mankad (former tennis player and a notable award-winning professor) and Harsh Mankad (Indian Tennis player).
Marine Drive, Mumbai
- The first cricketer ever to score 100 runs and taken five wickets in the same test match.
- One of only three non-England ‘away’ players whose names appear on both batting and bowling honors boards at Lords (The other two are Keith Miller and Sir Gary Sobers).
- First Indian to score hundred and a duck in the same test match on 1 January 1948 against Australia.
- 2nd most wickets taken hit-wicket (3) after GD McKenzie from Australia.
- 2nd highest opening partnership in test cricket together with Pankaj Roy on 6 January 1956 against New Zealand at Madras Cricket Club Ground (now M. A. Chidambaram Stadium) in Chennai.
- 2nd most double hundred in a Test series after Sir Don Bradman.
- First Indian to open the batting and bowling in a single test match against England on 12 January 1952 in Kanpur.
- 2nd fastest player to reach the Test double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets after Ian Botham in 23 test matches.The Times of India
- One of the only three cricketers to bat at every position in a match after Sydney Gregory (Australia) and Wilfred Rhodes (England).
- First Indian to score 1000 test runs and take 100 test wickets.
- One of only two cricketers to play for India after attaining the age of 40. The other name is Sachin Tendulkar. Mint
- First-century by an Indian against Australia in 1948.
- Only Indian batter to score two double hundreds in a single test series against New Zealand in 1952. Sportstar
- The first cricketer to pick up 50 wickets or more in a single season in England’s Bolton Cricket League. Latestly
He played his first professional cricket match in 1937 at an age of 20. It was between Lord Tennyson’s team and Team India. Lord Tennyson was an England test captain who also played for the Hampshire team during the 1930s. Mankad had the best batting and bowling averages (62.66 and 14.53) in that match which impressed Lord Tennyson so much that he remarked
“Mankad would step into the World’s Best XI.”
He was constantly knocking on the doors of Indian cricket but due to World War II, he had to wait for another few years to make his international debut on 22 June 1946 against England at the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground (London). But it was not all that easy. He played for the Western States team before against the touring Australian side. He could not cross the double-digit score and got dismissed on 8 and 4 runs in both innings by their medium-pacer Ron Oxenham. He then played his first Ranji game for Nawanagar but was unable to take any wicket. An year later, he scored 185 runs against the Bengal team taking his side to a victory. The following year, he also took his side to the Ranji Trophy title. Soon, he left Nawanagar and joined the Gujarat team. As Gujarat wasn’t the best of the Ranji team that time which resulted in his less chance of selection to the Indian side. He caught the eyes of the national selector during a match against the Ceylon team where he performed brilliantly. As a result, he was selected in the Indian team as a substitutional option against the Australian Service XI. He got the chance to play and took eight wickets in that match.
His performance impressed A.L Hassett, the opposition captain so much that he promised his impressive form during the upcoming England tour. He joined the Indian team on the England tour.
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi led side won the toss and elected to bat first in the first test match held at Lords Cricket Ground.
Vinoo got the chance to open along with Vijay Merchant. He couldn’t score big and was bowled on 14. The team could only score 200 runs. He got the chance to bowl and manage to scalp two wickets including Doug Wright who took his wicket in the first inning. He had the second-most economic spell in that inning (2.22) after Lala Amarnath. India then got the chance to bat. Mankad scored 63 runs while staying on the crease for 85 minutes which included seven fours and one six. He held the 50 plus runs partnership with both Vijay Merchant and Rusi Modi. India lost the match by ten wickets. His all-round performance had given him the huge responsibility to led the side as an all-rounder in the coming matches.
In the next match, he was bought down the order at Old Trafford Ground in Manchester to shoulder off the excess burden as both batter and a bowler. India this time fielded first on a dead wicket. Both their batter were set and put on 81 runs on the board for the first wicket. Mankad first removed opener Cyril Washbrook (caught behind) and then the key wicket of Len Hutton on 186. Following that he clean bowled their other two batter taking their score to 270 runs for the loss of seven wickets. He wrapped up their innings on 294 with 46 overs bowled in tandem. He then got dismissed on a golden duck when India came out to bat. When England came out to bat, he dismissed their opener Cyril Washbrook leg-before. He then captured the key wicket of their captain. India was given the target of 278 runs in the fourth inning. He got bowled on three when the score was 113 for seven. Somehow, the match ended in a draw due to bad weather.
In one of the articles in a Wisden Magazine about the 1947 Cricketer of the Year, it was written that
“Mankad, of slightly round-arm action, takes only a few steps before delivery near the extreme edge of the crease. He imparts an unusual amount of spin to his stock ball, the leg-break to a right-hand batter. His batting varies from the stolid to the adventurous according to the situation and his place in the order. This example of team spirit has characterized his constant approach to the game.”
In December 1946, India toured Australia for the five-match series. Having lost their first match by an inning and 226 runs, India scored 170 runs in the second test while batting first.
When Mankad came out to bowl, the score was 25 without loss. While taking a run-up, Mankad saw their non-striker batter Bill Brown stepping outside the crease. After he reached the bowling stump to deliver the bowl, he suddenly hit the ball to that stump, and Brown was declared run-out. However, Mankad warned him thrice in the first test for going too far from the crease. This unusual way of run-out created a spar in the Australian media who coined this run-out dismissal as “Mankading”.
“For the life of me I cannot understand why the laws of cricket make it quite clear that the non-striker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out?”
As the years were passed, several cricketers have suggested ruling out this uneventful way of getting out from the cricket terminology. However, his youngest son Rahul Mankad said that it is not worthy to drag his father’s name in every such dismissal. He further said,
“It is not as if my father was the first person to run out a non-striker, and nor is he the last.”Many other Indian cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Nari Contractor backed his statement by saying that Mankad is India’s all-time great cricketer. His name should not be spoiled.”
This statement was backed by India’s wicket-keeper batter Dinesh Karthik in 2019 who found it exceedingly unethical that the legendary Vinoo Mankad’s name is used in a wrong way for the dismissal which is absolutely legal. He further added, Outlook
“There are two issues I have with this ‘Mankad’ run out. First is the implementation of it. Second is the name ‘Mankad’ run out. All the way from Don Bradman to Sunil Gavaskar, everyone has said it’s completely within the rules. The ICC and MCC have also taken a stand that it is okay. So I don’t see the reason why bowlers or any team that does it is looked at in a negative way. The person who did it the first time was Vinoo Mankad. Interestingly, he was alert enough to do that dismissal. But more importantly, nobody remembers the batter who got run out. It was Bill Brown.”He further added,”If Mankad was the first person who did that runout, Bill Brown was the first person who got run out for being silly and walking out of the crease. Why is it that people remember Mankad and not Brown? Why can’t it be called anything to do with Bill Brown? He (Mankad) followed the rules and did it. The ICC and MCC call it a run-out. So the name Mankad shouldn’t be used in a negative connotation.”
Noteworthy is that this same incident took place during an IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals in 2019. Rajasthan Royals batter Jos Buttler was batting on 99, when bowler Ravichandran Ashwin Mankaded him for going too from the crease at the non-striking end.
‘Mankading’ issue was explained by International Cricket Council (ICC) by quoting that
“Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) law 41.16 deals with the issue of a non-striker leaving his/her ground early. The law states that if the non-striker is out of his/her ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to run him/her out. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one in the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal dead ball as soon as possible.”
He scored his first century against Australia during the third test on 1 January 1948. Australia was batting first after winning the toss. Their captain Don Bradman assured a good total by scoring 132 runs taking the score to 394 runs. Mankad scalped four Australian batters with an economy rate of 2.73. India on the other hand started decently. Mankad chipped in with 116 runs with 13 boundaries and took the score to 291 runs on the third day for the loss of nine wickets. However, his side lost the match by 233 runs.
Don Bradman came to see him at the airport and gave an envelope to him containing his signed photograph with the remark ‘Well Bowled Vinoo’. Mankad valued it as the best tribute ever by anyone for his brilliancy in cricket.
He scored his second century in the same tour during the fifth test in Melbourne. He took the crucial wickets of Neil Harvey (caught behind) and Ray Lindwall with the most economical spell of 2.43 after bowling 33 overs. However, he couldn’t prevent the huge total posed by the opposition in the first inning. Mankad then scored 111 runs by staying on a crease for five hours. In the second inning (following-on), he was unable to open his account and was dismissed on the second ball he faced. India lost the match by an inning and 177 runs. On 19 July 1952, during the second Test at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, he scored 72 runs in the first inning taking his team’s score to 235 runs.
Only one boundary was hit in that knock in a form of six against the spin bowling of Roly Jenkins over his head. In reply, England went on to score 537 runs. Mankad was the pick of the bowlers with five for 196 runs in 73 overs. He then played a knock of 184 runs. Wickets were crumbling from one end. But he stood firm and took the score to 377 runs. However, this score was not enough to win the match and finally, India lost the match by eight wickets. Although, Mankad bowled with an economy of 1.45 in their second inning. This match was referred to as the ‘Mankad Test’.
Hence, he became the only cricketer under whom a test match was named. Interestingly, he was not in the initial Indian squad to tour England. He was playing in the Lancashire League during that season. India was zero for the loss of four wickets when the team manager Pankaj Gupta convinced the BCCI and Mankad’s club to release him to play for his country. Wisden wrote on this performance by Mankad following his death in 1978 that
“England won by eight wickets, but Mankad’s performance must surely rank as the greatest ever done in a Test by a member of the losing side.”
His fellow cricketer Vijay Hazare wrote in his autobiography ‘Cricket Replayed’ about his 184 runs knock that
“I was lucky to be batting at the other end when he made those glorious 184 runs and could watch them in all their magnificence. No bowler could peg him down. (Alec) Bedser, (Jim) Laker and company, not to mention (Roly) Jenkins, held no terror for him and met with some rough treatment at his hands.”
A few years later in 1955, he was made the national captain for the tour of Pakistan as Polly Umrigar withdrew himself from the captaincy due to certain reasons. The first match was played in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh following Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971) on 1 January 1955. This is the first official test match ever played in Pakistan which ended in a draw. This followed up with four drawn test matches in a row against the same side. He was again handed over the captaincy on 21 January 1959 for the fourth test match against the Caribbeans. The team lost the game thus ending his captaincy career with 55 runs in six matches. On 2 December 1955, he went on to score the first double hundred of his international career against the Kiwis in Mumbai. India batted first and put on 421 runs declared. In reply, New Zealand could only score 258 runs on the fourth day. Mankad took one wicket in that inning. India gave them the follow-on and won the match by an inning and 27 runs. Mankad took four wickets in both innings including the wicket of their captain Harry Cave. He also completed 2000 test runs in this match. He came up with another double hundred during the same tour in the fifth test match held at Corporation Stadium (now Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium) in Chennai. He held the record highest opening partnership of 413 runs with his fellow mate Pankaj Roy (173 runs) until it was broken by Graeme Smith and Neil Mckenzie from South Africa in 2008. He also took four wickets thus winning the match for India by an inning and 109 runs. His knock of 231 runs was the highest individual score by an Indian which was later surpassed by legendary Sunil Gavaskar in 1983.
After that historic knock, his form dipped and he could only score 107 runs in nine test innings he played against the teams like Australia and West Indies. He also took 15 wickets during this phase. In his last appearance as a batter, he was bowled by Gordon Smith on a duck. He then retired from all forms of cricket in 1962 after taking his Rajasthan team to a Ranji Trophy final.
Salary Dispute- during that era, test cricketers weren’t paid well. Mankad played for Lancashire League so he demanded the board to pay him extra to compensate for his league earnings during his inclusion in the Indian squad for England’s tour in 1952. This resulted in sacking him from the ongoing tour. But soon, the cricket board bought him back to the national side after the disappointing performance by the team in the first test.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year for 1947
- Honorary life membership of the MCC in 1967
- Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1973
- Cricketer(s)- Sir Don Bradman, Dennis Compton (England), Sir Len Hutton (England), Ray Lindwall (Australia), and Keith Miller (Australia)
- Actor: Dilip Kumar
Vinoo Mankad died on 21 August 1978 in his apartment in Bombay (now Mumbai) in Maharashtra. He was in poor health for two years. He was suffered from a chronic failure on his left foot. The doctor has to decide whether he needs amputation in the affected area or doing a femoral artery graft. The doctor then opted for the second option. Unfortunately, the treatment wasn’t gone well and he breathed his last few days later. In his last stage, his fellow cricketer Subhash Gupte visited him. He was in dilemma whether Mankad would recognize him or not. He asked gently
“Do you know who I am?”
To which, Mankad couldn’t say a word but he raised his right hand. Gupte recalled those last days by saying that
“The non-existent ball was clutched in the grip of a leg-spinner.”
- Edward Docker, a notable cricket author described his routine in his book ‘History of Indian Cricket’ that
“He would rise early each morning, to train, to walk, to run, hop on his haunches, to bicycle, to bat, to bowl. He was like some Indian son of the soil, his nose ever close behind the plow, his nostrils so full of the scent of the earth that his life requires no other nourishment. Mankad didn’t play any other games. He went to bed early. He gave every day to developing his talents. As the farmer is tied to his plot, Mankad was tied to the cricket pitch. As the farmer knows every lump of soil on his land, he would come to know every crack, every wrinkle, every bump and blade of grass on the cricket pitches of India. Like a true professional, he played wherever he was valued: Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, among others.”
- Mankad in an interview with Sportstar told about his bowling coach Albert Wensley that
“Wensley came to me and said that I will not go anywhere as a medium-pacer. My bowling was okay on matting surfaces but Wensley felt that on turf I would be innocuous. Moreover, Nawanagar needed a left-arm slow bowler.”
He further said that
“If there was anybody who had immense faith in me it was the Jamsaheb. I remember how he tried to get me into the Lahore ‘Test’ against Lord Tennyson’s team. He failed because the other selectors said I was too young. But when I played at Bombay, the Jamsaheb resigned from the Committee. He did not want to be involved in selection when I was concerned because charges of favoritism may be leveled at him.”
- One old cricket scribe wrote about him that
“During the war years, while playing for Western India, Nawanagar, Hindus, and Maharashtra, one could see the dedication of the young lad. So, his approach in domestic cricket never smacked of frivolity. To him, every match was important.”
- When he was asked about England’s Ray Lindwall before the third test on his debut international tour in 1946, he said
“I was desperate against Lindwall because he had Barnes always stationed close on the on-side. I was bent on hitting Barnes out of there. Lindwall told me that Barnes was stationed there to distract me. He said I should not bother about Barnes at all. Also, he talked about my backlift which was high enough for his yorker to slip through. I ignored Barnes and shortened my back-lift.”
- While fielding at cover-point during a practice game before the first test match between India and England in 1946, the batter played a full-blooded shot that hit his left ankle. As a result, he could not bowl the faster deliveries in the latter games of that series which impacted his overall performance.
- He coached some of the great Indian cricketers like Salim Durani, Eknath Solkar, Vijay Manjrekar, Sunil Gavaskar, and many more after retiring from international cricket.
- A road on the South of Wankhede Stadium (Mumbai) is named after him. There is also a statue constructed on Bhidbhanjan Road at Patrakar Colony in Jamnagar (his birthplace), Gujarat. This statue was unveiled in 2004.
- Every year, the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) organizes a cricket national tournament dedicated to him. This tournament is named Vinoo Mankad Trophy. It is the under-19 version of the Ranji Trophy to cultivate new talents for the country. Thirty-five teams compete in this 50-overs format event. The first tournament was organized in 2018.
- Talking about his batting statistics, he had played 44 test matches and scored 2109 runs with an average of 31.47. This includes four centuries, two double-centuries, and six fifties. The most successful team against whom he scored the most runs is England with 618 runs followed by New Zealand and West Indies. Like other Asian batters, he was most successful in Asian sub-continents with 3132 runs. Though he had batted at all positions in test cricket; his most successful position is the number one position or the opening position where he scored 1315 runs with an average of 39.84. Coincidently, four out of his seven ducks in his whole career are at this position. Apart from his homeland, he scored most of his runs in the Caribbean region (West Indies).
- Talking about his bowling statistics, he took 162 wickets with a bowling average of 32.32 and a career economy rate of 2.13. He took 54 wickets against England and his most successful venue in the Asian sub-continent where he took 115 wickets (71% of his total wickets). He once opened the bowling in the second inning against England in 1952 and took one wicket. However, his economy was six runs per over in that spell.
- He played under Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi (father of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi) in 1946, Lala Amarnath (1947-1952), Vijay Hazare (1951-1953), Ghulam Ahmed (1955), and HR Adhikari (1959). Out of these, he played most of his match under Lala Amarnath’s captaincy.
- On 13 June 2021, he was featured in the ICC Hall of Fame along with ten other cricketers ahead of the World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand on 18 June. The other cricketers are Aubrey Faulkner from South Africa and Monty Noble from Australia for the pre-1918s era, Sir Learie Constantine from Trinidad and Tobago (West Indies) and Stan McCabe from Australia for the inter-war Era (1918-1945), Ted Dexter from England for the post-war Era (1946-1970). Desmond Haynes from West Indies and Bob Willis from England were inducted from the ODI era (1971-1995) while Andy Flower from Zimbabwe and Kumar Sangakkara from Sri Lanka were from the modern era (1996-2016).
- On his induction into that list, his student and legendary Sunil Gavaskar said
“Vinoo Mankad’s legacy has been to tell the aspiring Indian cricketer to believe in oneself. He was a great proponent of self-belief. He was the one who kept saying to me that you need to keep scoring runs and keep at it. When you get a 100, let that be the knock on the selector’s door. If it is unheard, then score that double hundred and let that knock be even louder. You can have the best technique, but if you do not have the temperament to support it you will not succeed, you have to keep hanging in there and have that self-belief. That was the greatest lesson I learned from him.”