Vijay Samuel Hazare (11 March 1915–18 December 2004) was an Indian cricket player from the state of Maharashtra. He captained the Indian cricket team in 14 matches between 1951 and 1953. In India's 25th Test match, nearly 20 years after India achieved Test status, he led India to her first ever Test win (and the only victory under his captaincy) in 1951-52 against England at Madras, winning by an innings and eight runs in a match that began on the day that King George VI died.
He studied at the Presbyterian Mission Industrial School in Sangli. His mother taught him at a young age to trust and pray to Jesus. His simple faith and daily reliance on Jesus prepared him to spiritually and psychologically to give credit for all the success to Jesus.
Hazare says, "I will never forget my humble beginning and my faith." At one point, it seemed his faith was an obstacle to his career. He relates an instance when he was invited to play for the Hindu Gymkhana. The invitation was a very prestigious honor. Anyone who played for the Hindu Gymkhana was sure to be invited to the Indian team. Vijay turned down the offer saying, "I am a Christian.' (In those days, only Hindus were allowed to play on the team). Vijay's stand was vindicated when Mr. De Mello, the President of the Cricket Control Board decided that the talented persons from other communities should also be given a chance. His decision led to the founding of the Catholic Gymkhana Cricket Team.
Primarily a right-hand batsman, Hazare was also a right-hand medium-pace bowler. A "shy, retiring" man (according to Wisden in 1952), it was widely thought that he was not a natural captain, and that his batting suffered as a result. His rival, Vijay Merchant said that the captaincy prevented Hazare from becoming India's finest batsman: "It was one of the tragedies of cricket."
Even so, Hazare's Test record is very respectable: he amassed 2,192 runs in 30 Test matches with a batting average of 47.65. His first-class record is even more impressive, with a batting average of 58.38 for his 18,740 runs (highest first-class aggregate for an Indian player after Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar). He scored 60 first-class centuries (including 7 in Tests), the third highest for an Indian player (also behind Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar), and 10 first-class double centuries (including six during World War II, when India was the only major cricket-playing country to continue holding its domestic first-class cricket competition without interruption).
His bowling record was more modest, and he took 595 first-class wickets (including 20 in Tests, and Donald Bradman's wicket three times) at an bowling average of 24.61. On the Indian domestic circuit, Hazare played for the Maharashtra, Central India and Baroda teams.
Some of his notable achievements include:
In retirement, he was for a short while an Indian Test cricket selector. He has been honoured with a trophy in his name, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, a zonal-cricket tournament in India. He died in December 2004 following prolonged illness caused by intestinal cancer.
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