Obituary, 2002

Pankaj Roy

ROY, PANKAJ, died in Calcutta on February 4, 2001, aged 72. He had suffered from cardiovascular problems. His son Pranab and nephew Ambar each played a few Tests for India, but Pankaj Roy had 43 to his credit; once, in 1959 at Lord's when Datta Gaekwad was poorly with bronchitis, he captained India. Cricket buffs recall him easily and affectionately for his great opening partnership with Vinoo Mankad when, against New Zealand at the Corporation Stadium, Madras in January 1956, they raised the world Test record for the first wicket to 413 runs. Mankad made 231 and Roy 173. They were the first Indians to bat together through a whole day's play in Test cricket - and only the third pair at the time. This was the highest, and also the last, of Roy's five Test centuries that went towards a Test aggregate of 2,442 runs at 32.56. The first two had been made against England in 1951-52 in his debut series. However, Roy found the pace of English bowlers and pitches too lively for him when he toured in 1952 - he managed just 54 in the four Tests - and as vice-captain in 1959. He had a happier time in the West Indies in 1952-53, averaging 47.87 in his four Tests and finishing with 150 at Kingston as he and Vijay Manjrekar put on an Indian-record 237 for the second wicket to save the match.

From 1946-47, when he hit a hundred on debut, to 1967-68, the stockily built, patient Roy was the anchor of the Bengal side in the Ranji Trophy. His highest score was 202 not out for Bengal against Orissa at Cuttack in 1963-64, and in all first-class matches he made 11,868 runs at an average of 42.38. Pankaj Roy's business life was occupied with the fisher-trawler trade and he was a figure of considerable prestige in Calcutta. He played a vital role in the development of cricket in Bengal and India, when both were coping with the political and social fall-out of World War II and the country's independence. Although he never forgot the humiliation, as he saw it, of his failures in England, he was well entitled to enjoy the compensation of that important opening partnership, still the world record at the time of his death.

© John Wisden & Co