Cricket

Madhav Mantri, a cricketing doyen, passes away

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An old guard of Indian cricket who built his reputation as a technically superior stumper and reader of the game, Madhav Mantri, passed away here on Friday morning. He was a bachelor and 92.

Affectionately called ‘George’, first by his captain Vinoo Mankad and thereafter by his contemporaries including Polly Umrigar, Bapu Nadkarni, Vijay Manjrekar, Madhav Apte and the late CCI and BCCI President Raj Singh Dungarpur, Mantri breathed his last at the Lilavati Hospital.

Acquainted with the last few generations as the maternal uncle of batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, the venerable Mantri spent the last three weeks of his life in hospital bed ever since he suffered a first attack on May 1. “He was at the Lilavati and recuperating, but he died of a massive heart attack this morning,” his niece told The Hindu.

Madhav Apte, 81, who regarded Mantri has his guru, and is eminently qualified to be described as a historian of Bombay and Indian cricket, revealed that Mantri acquired the nickname “George” in the course of a Commonwealth team tour of India around the 1950s.

“If I am not mistaken, he got it (George) from George Duckworth, who was the manager of the Commonwealth team and was an England wicket-keeper. Madhav was also a wicket-keeper and he played in that series.

“He did not get too many runs against the Commonwealth, but Vinoobhai was the first to call him “George”. Well, Vijay Manjerkar was called “Tat” because he imitated off-spinner Roy Tattersall beautifully,” said Mr. Apte while on his way to the Shivaji Park crematorium for Mantri’s funeral.

Apte who spent nascent years of his cricket under the watchful eyes of Vinoo Mankad, Shankar Godambe, Vijay Merchant and Mantri said: “Of course he was my guru; he was my coach at the Elphinstone College for three years from the late 1940s to early 1950s.

“He did not take a paisa for coaching. He was also my first Ranji Trophy captain. Madhavrao will stand out for two reasons. One, he was a great reader of the game, brilliant in field placements and bowling changes. He read his opponents well.

“Two, he was a disciplinarian. He would not tolerate nonsense from any cricketer.

“He was considerate too. We were playing the 1951-52 Ranji final against Holkar. Three weeks after I recovered from jaundice, I opened the innings and both us made 90 odd runs.

“But I was struggling with cramps in my calf when I was in 60s. C. K. Nayudu was the Holkar captain and Mantri told me not to show it off because that may jeopardise my chance for the tour of England,” said Mr. Apte.

Prorbably Mantri’s last public function was at the Indian Gymkhana, Matunga, on April 14, invited by former club cricketer K.V. Satyamurthy on Tamil New Year’s day.

Mr. Apte, who was also invited for a cricket-related function said: “I was there and ‘George’ looked as usual cheerful and walked upright.” Mantri had also visited the Wankhede Stadium in January when Maharashtra beat Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.

A giant

Considered a giant in Bombay, Mantri did not make a big impact in the four Test matches he played against England and Pakistan. He was among the four victims (others being Pankaj Roy, Dattajirao Gaekwad and Vijay Manjrekar) in India’s miserable 0-4 start in the second innings of the Headingley Test of 1952 with Fred Trueman playing havoc.

A long term President of the Dadar Union Club, Mantri played 95 first- class matches, scored 4403 runs and as a wicket-keeper, had 192 victims, 136 caught and 56 stumped.

After retirement from first class cricket, he became coach, selector, manager and was also president of the Mumbai Cricket Association. He was also a former Chairman of the Saraswat Bank, Secretary of the Indian Education Society and the founder-President of the Legends Club.

Paying homage to Mantri, the BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said: “Madhav Mantri’s demise is a big loss to Indian cricket. A wicketkeeper-batsman, he represented India and Mumbai with distinction.

“He was a member of the national selection committee from 1964 to 1968 and served the BCCI as Treasurer from 1990 to 1992. He was Manager of the Indian team that toured England in 1990.

“Indian cricket will be indebted to him. Several cricketers from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar had the privilege of being guided by him in their formative years. On behalf of the BCCI, I express my condolences to his family and admirers. May his soul rest in peace.”

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:14:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/madhav-mantri-a-cricketing-doyen-passes-away/article6039623.ece

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