130ODI’s, 39Tests, a collective 253 International wickets and close to 3500 International runs. Though not bad, but looking at these stats, any novice in the field of cricket or someone who was born post his retirement would just brush off looking at his stats. Would wonder what’s so fascinating about this guy on whom the then Indian skipper Azhar relied more than Kapil Dev.
What’s this hullaballoo surrounding him all the time? Neither are his stats path breaking neither is he competing with any great all-rounders of his era including his immediate colleague of that time Kapil Dev.
But as we say stats never define a player- Look at Andrew Flintoff’s statistics, batting average of 32 in 70+ Tests and just above 30 in ODI’s, still he was hailed as the England’s most iconic entertainer and one of the best English all-rounder. With close to 400 International wickets, when he was at his peak, his pace bowling simply looked surreal, a treat to watch. But again, only those who saw Flintoff playing can acknowledge the fact that how special a player he was, if you just look at his stats, you will never come to know what a player was all about. Flintoff was so iconic, he popularized cricket in England, there were cricket games for PC and apparel sold with his brand name. The same applies to a lot players including the likes of Sehwag, Afridi and Shane Bond in ODI’s. Only those who have watched them play cricket will be able to verify what kind of impact players they were even though stats would suggest something else.
To sum it up, Manoj Prabhakar was also in the same breed like these cricketers above and only our fathers or our elder brothers who have watched him play will be able to tell you stories about him or how great a player he was. At a time when reverse swing was associated only with Windies, Australia and England between 1975 to 1990, it was Manoj prabhakar- the first Indian bowler to reverse swing the ball. It brought a welcome change to the Indian cricket as we got to see some quality reverse swing bowling with a great bowling action which many tried to emualate. Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad or Agarkar- all these fast bowlers relied on pace, line and length. They were never the exponents of swing bowling. It was Prabhakar who bamboozled the best of the batsman with his reverse swing, clean bowled middle stumps with deadly in-swingers.
That was not all, he was not a couch with the bat either, from serving Allan Lamb the only golden ducks in his cricketing career to standing alongside Sachin at 68* when Tendulkar scored his first century, Manoj simply gave it all both with the bat as well as with the ball. Even in the New Zealand series Prabhakar responded with scores of 40, 95 and 63* against an attack spearheaded by Richard Hadlee.
What’s more his reliability factor was so much more than Kapil Dev, he still holds the record for opening the batting as well as bowling in a record 21Tests, a record which no International player has broken so far. Manoj Prabhakar was also known for his deceptive in-swinging slow balls which made life difficult for the batsman. That was not all, Manoj Prabhakar was a giant for Delhi cricket too amassing 7469 First Class runs which had 20Tons along with 385First Class wickets.
Manoj had so much to offer and he could have been one of the all time greats but unfortunately many people also remember him for his match fixing allegations dwarfing all his contributions he made to the Indian Cricket. He was loved by many, hated by many, but he was one player whom you could never ignore.
The first true fast bowling all-rounder and the first official swing bowler of India- Manoj will always be one of the iconic players to represent India.
Notable Highlights of Manoj Prabhakar’s Career-
-The first Indian bowler who started reverse swing bowling.
-The only bowler to serve Allan Lamb his only golden ducks in his career
-Only player to play 21Tests opening the batting as well as bowling (Record still not Broken).
-Over 7400+ First Class Runs, 385First Class Wickets
-253 International Wickets, 3458 International Runs, 20half centuries, 3tons in International Cricket.
-Batting Average of 99.00 in 3matches vs New Zealand in the ODI series against pace bowlers like Richard Hadlee
-Performed exceedingly well in Sharjah vs Paksitan and West Indies
Editor Haineel Shah