Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said it was legendary all-rounder and his college coach Vinoo Mankad who had broken the news of Indian team selection to him more than four decades ago. Gavaskar, fondly known as Sunny, recalled this anecdote at a programme held on Wednesday night to mark Mankad’s centenary birth anniversary, organised by the Legends Club at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai. Mankad, born on April 12, 1917 in Jamnagar in Gujarat, represented India in 44 Tests, scoring 2,109 runs and picking up 162 wickets. He is considered as one of the greatest all-rounders India have ever produced.
“I lived about five minutes from Dadar station (a suburban railway station in Mumbai), as I was entering I heard little excitement in the house. The door was opened by my mother and she was very excited. There was Vinoo Mankad on the (telephone) line. The news that I was selected for India, I heard from Vinoo Mankad,” Gavaskar recalled during the function.
“Vinoo bhai was on the other line and he said, ‘Beta, you have been selected, go on and bat freely’, those were his words. He handed the phone to Ashok (Mankand), who was my team mate in St Xavier’s and Mumbai and we talked a little bit,” Gavaskar, who scored 10,122 runs in 125 Tests, added.
It was in 1971 that Gavaskar was selected in the Indian team for the series against West Indies for the first time and he remembered how legendary Sir Don Bradman had spoken highly of Mankad during a chat with the Australian great. The former right-handed batsman recalled an instance when Sir Don kept on hitting Mankad over the fielder’s head and when the fielder was finally at the boundary, Sir Don still managed to hit him over his head and then how Mankad was taken off the bowling.
A citation about Mankad was presented to his son Rahul. Former India captain Ajit Wadekar, ex-India players Vasu Paranjpe, Madhav Apte and Salim Durani were also present at the event.