Vijayakar had been suffering from cancer of the pancreas and had been ailing for some time. He would have turned 60 in five days’ time.
Vijayakar, who started his career with Sportsweek, had been with The Times of India since 1975 and has been quoted as saying that he would work with the paper till his death.
A legspinner who played with batting legend Sunil Gavaskar for St. Xavier’s college, Vijayakar was known for his diligence be it in covering an international cricket fixture, a local hockey match or a school event.
He shared a birthday with another famous Indian cricket legend, Kapil Dev.
“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 Dev.
“In our time, players and journalists were like friends; he was always around.”
The Times of India ran a tribute on its sports pages and an advertisement (above) appeared on the classified pages in Bombay.
In a tribute in Mid-Day, the veteran sports writer Ayaz Memon wrote:
“As a department colleague during my stint with the Times of India, Pradeep would often talk of his joys at reporting little-known matches, spotting and encouraging young talent. “This is the stage at which sport is at its cleanest and most enjoyable,” he would say.
“Pradeep was a terrific raconteur, a prankster, fond of ghazals and old songs which he would croon with the seriousness of a professional playback singer. He was also fond of collecting memorabilia,including for some reason which I was never able to fathom, match-boxes from all over the world.”
Photograph: courtesy The Times of India
Also read: Ayaz Memon on Pradeep Vijayakar