February 4, 2001

Pankaj Roy dead

Staff Reporter

Bengal's first cricket legend Pankaj Roy passed away at Kolkata's Anandalok Nursing Home in the early hours of Sunday. Roy, who scored 2442 runs in 43 Tests and 79 innings had been suffering from cardio-vascular problems for the last few months. On Saturday afternoon he was admitted to the Home and in spite of a tireless effort by the group of physicians attending on him, the end came this morning. With him closed one of the most gutsy cricketing innings by a Bengal batsman. A person who had defied odds, practising facilities and vision problems early in his career to tackle the likes of Roy Gilchrist, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Brian Statham and Fred Trueman.

Roy had three sons, the second of whom, Pranab, was doing duty as the manager of the East Zone side at Pune. The latter however managed to reach Kolkata in the morning. Those that turned up to pay their last respects included Ganguly, the former ICC Chairman Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former BCCI President Mr. Biswanath Dutt, contemporaries of Roy like Premangshu Chatterjee, Kalyan Mittra, Chuni Goswami, former cricketers Gopal Bose, Palash Nundy, Sujan Mukherjee, Arun Lal, Ashok Malhotra and the legendary footballer Sailen Manna. The Minister of State for Telecommunications, Mr. Tapan Sikdar also visited the crematorium to pay his last respects.

Talking at the Cricket Association of Bengal, Premangshu Chatterjee who made his first class debut in the same match as Roy said, "The game was against Uttar Pradesh. He scored a hundred while I got seven wickets. Since then we have been friends. However, even though, he is three years younger than me, he managed to beat me to the pavilion of heaven." Mr. Dalmiya, who is also the President of the CAB said, "It is an incalculable loss to the game of cricket. He was a man who symbolized courage." Ganguly, who also garlanded Roy's body said, "I am too shocked to say anything really."

From the office of the CAB it was straight to the burning ghats. There the three sons namely Pradeep, Pranab and Prabhat amidst the chant of hymns lighted the funeral pyre. Then the body was pushed into the electric oven. An era in Bengal cricket had ended. Sadly, the negligence that Roy received on his last journey was apalling. It was only because of the enterprise of a couple of CAB officials that the funeral could proceed without any hassle.