Vijay Mehra who opened for Delhi, North Zone and India in the sixties and seventies passed away today. He was 68.
Vijay Mehra is the first test cricketer I actually played with.
It was the winter of 1966-67. The Indian team for the summer tour to England was to be selected later and Vijay Mehra came to our club (Madras cricket Club, New Delhi) for nets. Before the first batsman went into the nets, Mehra went in wearing just his batting gloves and with his bat went in and asked a nervous sikh school boy to bowl to him. I measured out my run and ambled in to bowl my flighted off spinners. Mehra went on the front foot to push the ball on the off side. It spun sharply on pitching, went through his bat and pad and bowled him.
He looked up at me smiled indulgently and nodded in acknowledgement, put the stump back and took guard.
I came in and bowled again. Three balls later, I bowled him again as he tried to play my flighted deliveries on the off side.
He came out and asked my coach to make sure I bowled to him when he batted.
I was over the moon and thought if I never did anything else in my life, I had done enough to talk about for the rest of my life
I played quite a bit with him in the Delhi league in later years. He wasnt a great test class batsman but a very heavy scorer in the North Zone and played with a very strong bias for the off side.
He was a simple Punjabi and a gentleman to the core. I dont remember him ever speaking in anything but soft tones which was very refreshing for us since international cricketers were not many in the North and one had got used to arrogance even if they had played Ranji Trophy.