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Vinoo Mankad deserves better than his disgrace for cricket’s most controversial dismissal




Mankad’s disadvantage was that he lost some of his best years to World War II. He didn’t make his test debut until 1946, on India’s England tour, when he was 29 and he wasn’t bad then, taking double a thousand runs and a hundred wickets in the first-class season, the first touring player to do it after Learie Constantine of West Indies in 1928, and never repeated since.

Before the war, when he was only 20, he had revealed himself as an all-round star when Lord Tennysons’ team toured India in 1937-8 and played five Tests against India, but they were not given full Test status because so many English players refused tour after contesting the Ashes in Australia the previous winter. Mankad not only recorded an undefeated century at number three in the Tests but Indias leading spinner.

Once Mankad officially started playing test cricket, he took it so easily that he scored the test double of a thousand runs and a hundred wickets in just 23 tests. It took a player as gifted as Ian Botham to top that.

The tirelessness, let alone Mankad’s ability as an all-rounder, was outstanding. Full-time spinners have rarely opened a Test innings, but Mankad did, taking India’s highest individual score of 231 over the course of the world record highest opening score, 413 with Pankaj Roy in 1955-6 (both of their sons went representing India as batsmen). It was only against New Zealand, the weakest test team, but Madras’ heat and humidity were real enough and Mankad’s record innings were not beaten until Sunil Gavaskar scored 236.

As a batsman, he was dashing enough to come straight from the Haslingdens league team to hit an English spinner for six across the screen in the 1952 Lords Test. As a left-arm spinner, Bangladeshi Shakib ul-Hasan may have come closest. near the method. Many Test cricketers were crippled in one way or another, not just those who ran too far backwards.




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