Vijay Samuel Hazare was born on 11 March 1915 at Sangli in Maharashtra and died on 18 December 2004 at Baroda. An outstanding right-handed middle order batsman and part-time medium pacer, he is without doubt one of the finest batsmen ever produced by the sub-continent. Making his test debut against England at Lord’s in the first test of the 1946 series, he played his last test in the West Indies in 1952-3. The best of his batsmanship was seen during war time matches in the Ranji Trophy and much of his international career was cut short because of the war.
Hazare played 30 tests for India, scoring 2,192 runs at an average of 47.65 with seven centuries and nine fifties, and a highest score of 164 n.o. He also claimed 20 wickets at an average of 61.0. He played first class cricket till 1966-7 and scored nearly 19,000 runs with 60 centuries and claimed 595 wickets.
A batsman who did not believe in taking the bowling by the scruff of the neck, Hazare usually bided his time till the bowlers were tired and then launched into his signature cover drives, cuts and pull-shots. His centuries in each innings of the test match at Adelaide, against the mighty Aussies of the Bradman era, will remain etched forever as two of the finest innings played by any Indian. In England, while Trueman was running riot, reducing the Indians to nothing-for-four, Hazare walked in coolly and scored 56 runs to stem the rot. Though he captained India in 14 test matches, cricketing pundits believe that the extra burden cramped his style. He wasn’t a good communicator and hence found it difficult to motivate his teammates to do better.
A soft-spoken man to the last, he suffered from cancer during his last few years. Author of several cricket books, his autobiography was named ‘A Long Innings’.