Ashok Mankad was an accomplished upper-order batsman, who represented India in 22 Tests between 1969 and 1978. He had the unenviable task of trying to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious father, "Vinoo" Mankad, a legend in Indian cricket.
There have been 40 Test-playing fathers whose sons have gone on to play Test cricket, but rarely have both been great players. Although Ashok's Test record was comparatively modest (he finished with 991 runs at an average of 25.41), he did have an outstanding first-class career, amassing 12,980 runs, at an average of over 50, and taking 72 wickets with his useful medium-pacers.
Born in 1946, Ashok Mankad excelled in school cricket, while a century for Bombay against Madras in the university final ensured him a first-class début a week before his 17th birthday. He did not set the world alight initially, so it was a surprise when he was selected to play in the first Test against New Zealand in 1969 at Bombay. He made 19 not out and 29 in an Indian win, though he lost his place for the final match of the series in a season in which India tried eight new players.
He was soon recalled against Australia and produced the best performances of his career. Batting at number three, he made 74 at Bombay, sharing a then record stand of 146 for the fourth wicket with the Nawab of Pataudi. He was promoted to open at Kanpur, making 64 and 68, then at Delhi, he helped set up victory with an excellent innings of 97, which proved to be his highest score in Tests.
Although he formed a productive association with Sunil Gavaskar at the top of the order against the West Indies, he struggled in England in 1971 and thenceforth moved back to the middle order. Still, he had helped India record first series wins in the Caribbean and England.
It was nearly three years until his next Test, yet in domestic cricket he was peerless – in 1976/77 he averaged over 200 in the Ranji Trophy as he amassed 827. He made not-out scores of 124, 125, 203 and 208 in four consecutive matches, which earned him one final tour with India, to Australia in 1977/78.
Considering his sound temperament, jovial nature and great cricketing knowledge, it is puzzling that he could not convert his talent into Test success. After retiring at the end of the 1982-83 season, he moved into coaching.
Ashok Mulvantrai Mankad, cricketer and coach: born Mumbai 12 October 1946; married (two sons); died Mumbai 1 August 2008.Reuse content