Pradeep Vijayakar: A one-man army
Mumbai:1 pm; Ranji Trophy semifinals. 3 pm; BHA League Cup final; 5 pm interschool athletics. 7.30 pm; flowing copies on all three submitted to the Times of India sports desk. That was the oneman army called Pradeep Vijayakar. “Writing is my oxygen,” he would tell colleagues, who marvelled at his drive even after four decades in the profession.
Vijayakar, who lost his battle with cancer of the pancreas on Saturday, five days before his 60th birthday (January 6), was Asst Editor with The TOI. He was with the organisation since 1975. “In our time, players and journalists were like friends; he was always around,” said former India captain Kapil Dev.
“We shared a common birthday and he would always be the first to wish me. I spoke to Pradeep two days ago, and he said he’d be alright soon and ‘we’ll meet again’. That couldn’t happen,” said Kapil.
Former India captain, Dilip Vengsarkar, recounted Vijayakar’s passion for grassroots cricket. “Whether an inter-school or inter-office match, he would be at the venue, unlike today's journalists.”
Mumbai coach and former India player Praveen Amre endorsed Vengsarkar’s views. “I admired his passion for junior cricket. When I played for Mumbai, he often traveled with the team. A leg-spinner himself, he always got excited when he spotted a talented young-leggie.”
Afamily man, Vijayakar’s trusted aides were leg-work, passion and enthusiasm. Says veteran journalist and close friend Makarand Waingankar, who started his journalistic career with Vijayakar at Sportsweek in 1972, “he was a true maidan journalist, someone who smelled news from a distance and worked on it. He was also loyal to The Times of India. He had other offers but he told me, “I will work for TOI till I die.”