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MANKAD, MULVANTRAI, affectionately known to cricketers throughout his life by his schoolboy nickname of Vinoo, died in Bombay on August 21, aged 61. He was the greatest all-rounder that India has yet produced. In Tests he scored 2,109 runs with an average of 31.47 and took 162 wickets at 32.31. He made five centuries and twice took eight wickets in an innings. Against New Zealand at Madras in 1955-56 he scored 231, still a record for India in a Test, and with P. Roy put on 413 for the first wicket, a record for any Test. His average for that series was 105. When India at Madras in 1952 gained their first victory over England, his bowling was almost wholly responsible. On a wicket which gave him little assistance he took eight for 55 and four for 53. His most famous feat was v England at Lord's in 1952 when going in first he scored 72 and 184. In the second innings he went straight to the wicket after bowling 31 overs that day. In the whole match he bowled 97 overs and took five for 231. 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. Indeed in assessing his record one must remember that of the 44 Tests between 1946 and 1959 in which he played India won five only.
His first-class career started in 1935, but it was against Lord Tennyson's team in India in 1937-38 that he came into real prominence. With a batting average in the unofficial Tests of 62.66 and a bowling average of 14.53, he headed both averages, and Tennyson is reported to have said that he would already get a place in a World XI. In 1946 for India in England he made 1,120 runs and took 129 wickets. He remains the only Indian ever to have accomplished this feat and no member of any touring side has achieved it since. In 1947 he went into League Cricket and, though he remained available in India during the winter, when they came to England in 1952, he was released for the Tests only. Indeed the Lord's Test was his first first-class match that season. He captained India in Pakistan in 1954-55. In his first-class career, which ended in 1962, he scored 11,480 runs with an average of 34.78 and took 774 wickets at 24.60.
As a batsman, he had great powers of concentration and a strong defence. His record stand with Roy lasted over eight hours and they were not separated till after lunch on the second day. At the same time, if a ball wanted hitting, he hit it. Many will remember how at Lord's in 1952 the match had barely been in progress half-an-hour when he hit Jenkins high over the screen at the Nursery End. He had a fine cover-drive and hit well to leg. Like many players of great natural ability he did not in attack worry overmuch about the straightness of his bat. In fact he was essentially a practical batsman who was prepared to go in cheerfully whenever his captain wanted and adapt his tactics to the state of the match.
As a bowler, he was a slow left-hander of the old-fashioned orthodox type, varying his natural leg-break with a faster one which came with his arm and got him lots of wickets. His figures in 1946 are the more creditable when one realises that for most of the tour he was suffering from an injury which made this ball tiring and difficult to bowl. As a boy he had experimented with the chinaman but was fortunately persuaded by that shrewd coach, Bert Wensley, to abandon it. For some years he was undoubtedly the best bowler of his type in the world.
His son, Ashcock played for India in fifteen Tests as a batsman. The pair provide one of the rare instances of father and son both representing their country.