June 23, 2002

Golden memories of a golden deed

It's a feat that has been performed only 25 times in over 1600 Test matches and so it does have an honoured place in the records section of the Wisden. To hit a hundred and take five wickets in an innings in a Test match is still the highest benchmark by which a cricketer's all-round ability is judged.


England might have won but it was still Mankad's game, even if there were no Man of the Match awards in those days. Queen Elizabeth, then in her first year of her reign, arrived shortly after Mankad was out. It was a pity she could not see a 'royal' performance but learning of his feat, she spent some time congratulating him when the teams were presented to her at the tea interval.
Many great players - Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev included - have, though, failed to pass this exacting test. The rather surprising absence of Kapil notwithstanding, India is fairly well represented among the 25 thanks to two gallant performances by Vinoo Mankad and Polly Umrigar.

The former pulled off the feat against England at Lord's in 1952 while Umrigar completed the double against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 1962. The similarities in the two performances are astonishing.

In both cases, they were the top-scorers in either innings - Mankad making 72 and 184 and Umrigar hitting 56 and 172 not out. Both Mankad and Umrigar also sent down the maximum number of overs - 72 and 56 respectively - for their five-wicket hauls, conceding 196 and 107 runs. Both had a tidy spell in the second innings without claiming a wicket. And in both cases, India lost the match - the margin at Lord's being eight wickets while at Port of Spain it was seven wickets.

Despite the similarities and the greatness associated with both feats, it is Mankad's achievement that is remembered more fondly. Perhaps because it was the first time an Indian had achieved the feat or maybe because the drama surrounding the double was enacted at Lord's.

Today (June 23, 2002), it is exactly 50 years since Mankad's accomplishment. And surely there is no better time than a golden jubilee to take a trip down memory lane and examine closely the matchless deed of Mankad the magnificent.

To begin with, it must be stated that Mankad was not a member of the touring squad. It was indeed a sorry situation that saw a largely inexperienced team make the rounds in England without any conspicuous success while the leading Indian all-rounder was playing in the Lancashire league.

Following a contractual misunderstanding with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Mankad was not selected for the tour. He, however, had a lucrative offer with the Lancashire league club Haslingden. In the meantime, India lost the first Test at Leeds by seven wickets. By now it was becoming increasingly clear that Mankad would be required for the next Test, both as opening batsman and for leading the bowling attack in the company of Ghulam Ahmed.

The Indian manager Pankaj Gupta hastily negotiated Mankad's release for the remaining three Test matches and so from playing one-day cricket in the Lancashire league, Mankad went straight to the sterner atmosphere of a five-day Test at Lord's.

On the opening day, June 19, Vijay Hazare won the toss and elected to bat. Mankad dominated the opening partnership with Pankaj Roy, hitting leg-spinner Roy Jenkins for a straight six inside the first hour.

The two put on 106 runs before Mankad was first out. His going triggered a collapse, and but for Hazare (69 not out), no one offered much resistance. India, consequently, were all out for 235, shortly before close.

Throughout the second day and most of the third, Mankad toiled manfully while bowling to a strong batting line-up that started with Len Hutton and Reg Simpson and continued with Peter May, Denis Compton, Tom Graveney, Alan Watkins and Godfrey Evans.

On a perfect pitch, he still managed to extract some turn and bounce, all the while maintaining his trademark control over line and length. When England were all out for 537, shortly before tea on the third afternoon, Mankad had been rewarded with the wickets of Simpson, May, Watkins, Jenkins and Bedser and his figures were 73-24-196-5.

Ten minutes later, he was back at the crease and soon was stroking the ball confidently against the pace of Freddie Trueman, the swing of Bedser, and the spin of Jenkins, Laker and Watkins. By close of play, he was unbeaten with 86 out of a total of 137 for two and in the Sunday newspapers, critics expended their stock of superlatives whilst praising Mankad's all-round abilities, his skill, his stamina and his courage in adversity.

On Monday, June 23, Mankad resumed his innings and within quarter-of-an-hour reached his century to complete the double. At that time, the feat had been accomplished only four times in 351 Tests. The last player to do so was Jack Gregory for Australia against England in 1920-21. Little wonder, then, that Mankad's was hailed as an outstanding achievement.

Mankad went along his merry way until, shortly after lunch, he missed the line of a delivery from Laker and was bowled. One critic observed "it seemed that something contrary to nature had taken place." Mankad was third out at 270 after sharing a 211-run third wicket partnership with Hazare.

An all-too-familiar Indian batting collapse followed and the tourists were all out for 378 shortly before close of play. England needed only 77 runs for victory. At stumps on the fourth day, they were 40 for one, and were home shortly after play resumed on the final morning. Mankad this time had the tidy figures of 24-12-35-0.

England might have won but it was still Mankad's game, even if there were no Man of the Match awards in those days. Queen Elizabeth, then in her first year of her reign, arrived shortly after Mankad was out. It was a pity she could not see a 'royal' performance but learning of his feat, she spent some time congratulating him when the teams were presented to her at the tea interval.

Noted cricket writer AA Thomson captured the scene thus: "One of the most charming pictures that ever appeared in Wisden is that of Her Majesty shaking hands with Mankad on that glorious day. The splendour of his innings at Lord's will be remembered by all who saw it for many a long day. His hitting was free, swift and vigorous and roused the spectators to a higher pitch of enthusiasm than had the excellent English batting. He flogged the bowlers until they were tired and then finally with his score at 184, was tired himself."

Fifty years on, the lustre surrounding Mankad's achievement has not diminished. It still takes its place as one of the greatest feats in Indian cricket. The fact that it has been emulated by an Indian only once and has been beyond the reach of even such a dynamic cricketer like Kapil Dev is testimony to this.

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