Vijay Manjrekar

MANJREKAR, VIJAY LAXMAN, who died in Madras, where he had gone for a sportsmen's gathering, on October 18, 1983, aged 52, was a conspicuously good player of fast bowling in an era when India had few of them. Having played in the first of his 55 Tests in 1951-52, against England at Calcutta, he soon showed his quality by making 133 in his first Test in England (at Headingley) in June, 1952, when only twenty. Coming in at 42 for three on the first morning, with Trueman and Bedser on the warpath (and Laker to follow), he and his captain, Hazare, rescued India's innings with a fourth-wicket partnership of 222, which still stands as a record between the two countries.

If, as the years passed, problems of weight slowed him down, he had sufficiently nimble footwork and enough natural ability always to be a dangerous opponent and often a joy to watch. Like many of the best Indian batsmen, he was small and a fine cutter and hooker. Within nine months of his 133 at Headingley he scored 118 against West Indies at Kingston, sharing on that occasion a record second-wicket partnership with Pankaj Roy. His two best Test series were against New Zealand in India in 1955-56 (386 runs, average 77.20) and against England in India in 1961-62 (586 runs, average 83.71).

He made seven Test centuries, the highest his 189 against England at Delhi in 1961-62 and the last of them in his final Test innings, against New Zealand at Madras in February 1965. At Bombay in 1964-65 his two innings of 59 and 39 were invaluable contributions towards India's first Test victory over Australia. An occasional off-spinner, a serviceable wicket-keeper and in his early days a fine cover fielder, he played at different times for no fewer than six sides in the Ranji Trophy -- Bombay, Bengal, Andhra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. In Test matches he scored 3,208 runs (average 39.12), took one wicket, held nineteen catches and made two stumpings. In the Ranji Trophy he scored 3,734 runs (average 57.44) and hit twelve hundreds.

© John Wisden & Co