Dilip Sardesai on Vijay Manjrekar

Learning from the rock

ESPNcricinfo staff
Solid technique, unassuming personality, he was the man to copy

Manjrekar against England at Trent Bridge: 'he was technically the most sound and correct batsman against pace and spin both' © Getty Images

Vijay Manjrekar was a great player and I always looked to imitate him. For me he was technically the most sound and correct batsman against pace and spin both. I was 16 years old when I saw him live for the first time, at the Brabourne Stadium where India were playing Australia.

For a young, upcoming cricketer like me, he was the right model to aspire to, with his solid technique. MS Naik, my coach, said I needed to watch Manjrekar to learn how to be a good batsman. And I made it a point to do that, watching him closely wherever he played.

I got a chance to play with him when I played for India. He was a silent man and would speak only when necessary. Once, during the home series against England in 1963-64, he advised me not to play on the back foot against Fred Titmus' away-going delivery, and that if I played him on the front foot it wouldn't trouble me. It was another matter that he forgot to take his own advice and got out to Titmus in the Bombay Test, playing on the back foot! When I pointed that out, he was modest enough to reply: "I was over-confident." A very simple person to the core.

The more I played with him and the more I talked to him, the more I wanted to be like him. And to some extent I managed to do that in my career.

If someone is playing correct, always try to talk to him and get tips from him. It usually helps a lot. I was lucky that I had Vijay Manjrekar to look up to when I was young.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine