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Vijay Merchant

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Vijay Merchant
Vijay Merchant in 1936
Personal information
Full name
Vijay Singh Madhavji Merchant
Born(1911-10-12)12 October 1911
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died27 October 1987(1987-10-27) (aged 76)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
BattingRight-handed
BowlingRight-arm medium
RoleBatsman
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 15)15 December 1933 v England
Last Test2 November 1951 v England
Domestic team information
YearsTeam
1929–1951Bombay
Career statistics
Competition Tests First-class
Matches 10 150
Runs scored 859 13470
Batting average 47.72 71.64
100s/50s 3/3 45/52
Top score 154 359*
Balls bowled 54 5,087
Wickets 0 65
Bowling average 32.12
5 wickets in innings 0 1
10 wickets in match 0 0
Best bowling 5/73
Catches/stumpings 7/– 115/–
Source: ESPNcricinfo, 21 March 2019

Vijay Singh Madhavji Merchant pronunciation, (born Vijay Madhavji Thackersey;[1][2] 12 October 1911 – 27 October 1987) was an Indian cricketer. A right-hand batsman and occasional right-arm medium pace bowler, Merchant played first-class cricket for Bombay cricket team as well as 10 Test matches for India between 1929 and 1951. Behind his limited Test appearances, he dominated Indian domestic cricket – his batting average of 71.64 is the second highest first-class average in history, behind only that of Don Bradman.[3] He is regarded as the founder of the Bombay School of Batsmanship,[4] that placed more importance on right technique, steely temperament, and conservative approach rather than free flow of the bat.[citation needed]

His international career included two tours of England upon which he scored over 800 runs. English cricketer C. B. Fry exclaimed "Let us paint him white and take him with us to Australia as an opener."[3] His brother, Uday, also played first-class cricket.

Besides cricket, he was also associated with the Hindoostan Spinning & Weaving Mills (Thackersey Group) and was the Sheriff of Bombay in 1970.[citation needed]

Domestic Cricket

Merchant was born in Bombay, into a wealthy Gujarati family in 1911.[5][6][2][7] He was an "outstanding college cricketer" who captained Sydenham College, while studying there;[3] his success for Sydenham led to selection for Hindus cricket team during the 1929 Bombay Quadrangular. He also continued to play for Sydenham and in 1931 he set the record in Bombay inter-collegiate cricket by scoring 504 runs and taking 29 wickets. His continued success in domestic cricket resulted in the call to the India national team to play against the visiting English team at Bombay Gymkhana, which was also the first Test to be played on Indian soil.[8] Throughout his career, Merchant was involved in a rivalry with the other great Indian batsman of the era, Vijay Hazare. In the Bombay Pentangular match against the Rest, he bested Hazare's record of 242, set just in the previous match against the Muslims, with 250 not out. Hazare responded with a 309 out of a team total of 387 in the next innings, in what is generally held[by whom?] the greatest innings ever played in India before 1947. Merchant topped it by scoring 359 against Maharashtra in Ranji trophy.[citation needed]

International career

Merchant's Test career spanned 18 years but during that time he played only ten Test matches, and was unfortunate that some of the best years of his career were lost to the Second World War, when no international cricket was played. He also missed tours to Australia and the West Indies due to poor health.[3] However, Merchant went out to score 154 in his last Test match against England in Delhi, which was also his highest Test score. A shoulder injury incurred while fielding in that game forced him to retire. All ten matches of Merchant's Test career were against England.

Merchant had a particularly successful England tour of 1946. Despite facing difficulty against swing bowling when the ball moved away after pitching on the leg stump, he scored 2,385 runs including seven centuries in the 41 innings he batted, at an average of 74.53. In his column, former cricketer Learie Constantine wrote, "... this (Merchant) world-beater so adapted himself to the circumstances that he produced cricket of the highest class, never refusing the challenge to score when the dice was not too heavily loaded against the side."[9]

Merchant went on to become a cricket administrator, broadcaster, writer and national selector, and charitable advocate of the handicapped.[3]

Cricket with Vijay Merchant

"Cricket with Vijay Merchant" was a radio programme hosted by Merchant. It was broadcast on Sunday afternoons[year needed],[10] on Vividh Bharati, Anu D. Aggarwal quotes a survey, which revealed that it was one of the most listened to sponsored programmes.[11]

Legacy

Although Merchant played only ten Test matches, he is widely considered to be one of the greatest batmen of his era.[3] He was an attractive stroke maker, who "developed fine footwork, and built a stroke repertoire featuring a lovely cut, grasscutting drives, a delicate glance and late-cut, and, until later in his career, a brilliant hook stroke."[3] His batting average in first-class cricket was 71.64, putting him second only to Don Bradman of Australia. In India's domestic Ranji Trophy matches, Merchant fared even better, averaging 98.75 in 47 innings. His record is especially impressive as his runs came at a time of uncovered wickets. He was one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1937. Merchant is also the oldest Indian player to score a Test century. He scored 154 when he was 40 years 21 days during England's 1951–52 tour of India.[3]

During his career, Merchant scored eleven double-centuries in first-class cricket, the most by an Indian batsman. The record stood until November 2017, when Cheteshwar Pujara scored his twelfth double-century batting for Saurashtra against Jharkhand in the 2017–18 Ranji Trophy.[12][13]

The Board of Control for Cricket in India named its under-16 domestic cricket tournament Vijay Merchant Trophy in his honour.[14]

References

  1. ^ Chaturvedi, Ravi (1 January 2009). Legendary Indian Cricketers. Prabhat Prakashan. p. 51. ISBN 978-81-8430-075-8.
  2. ^ a b Bose, Mihir (18 April 2006). The Magic of Indian Cricket: Cricket and Society in India. Routledge. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-134-24924-4. Perhaps the most emphatic illustration of the old-money attitude to Indian cricket is provided by Vijay Merchant and his family firm of Thackersey of Mumbai. This is one of the old established mill-owning families of Bombay, part of the Gujarati textile owners who shaped the city. Merchant's name should have been Vijay Thackersey. But when he was trying to explain his name to his English principal, he took so long and got so involved in the intricacies of the Gujarati family, that the principal decided that, since Vijay clearly belonged to the merchant class, he would have the surname Merchant.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Vijay Merchant". Cricinfo. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  4. ^ Guha, Ramachandra (24 November 2016). A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport. Random House. ISBN 978-93-5118-693-9.
  5. ^ Szymanski, Stefan; Wigmore, Tim (26 May 2022). Crickonomics: The Anatomy of Modern Cricket: Shortlisted for The Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award 2023. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-4729-9277-2. Great names of this era include Vijay Merchant, from a family of wealthy Gujarati industrialists.
  6. ^ Lokapally, Vijay; Ezekiel, Gulu (20 November 2020). Speed Merchants: The Story of Indian Pace Bowling 1886 to 2019. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-93-88271-36-3. Though they came from vastly different social strata, Amar and Vijay Merchant became great friends—their common mother tongue of Gujarati perhaps being one reason. Outside royalty Merchant was one of the wealthiest Indian cricketers of his time.
  7. ^ Dharker, Anil (6 April 2011). Icons: Men and Women who Shaped Today's India. Roli Books Private Limited. ISBN 978-81-7436-944-4. Merchant was Gujarati, a very wealthy businessman, and therefore set somewhat apart from the public that acclaimed his feats.
  8. ^ "India's original batting hero". Cricinfo. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  9. ^ Constantine, Learie (15 September 1946). "Cricket of the Highest Class". The Indian Express. p. 2.
  10. ^ Memon, Ayaz (26 March 2012). "Government must infuse life into its dull media". Hindustan Times. New Delhi. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  11. ^ Aggarwal, Anu D. (15 October 1984). "A Shift Towards Television". Industrial Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Pujara back to old ways, scores 12th double-century". ESPN Cricinfo. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Cheteshwar Pujara goes past Vijay Merchant's all-time double-ton record in FC cricket". Scroll.in. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Vijay Marchent trophy". BCCI.tv.
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Vijay Merchant
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