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Relive India's first ever Test match... against England in 1932!

July 01, 2014 08:24 IST

Relive India's first ever Test match... against England in 1932!

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Rajneesh Gupta

Ahead of the Indian cricket team's upcoming Test series against England, Rajneesh Gupta looks back in time on the 184-day trip in Blighty during which the team played 38 matches, including a solitary Test.

The cricketing relationship between India and England goes back such a long way that it can’t be said with surety when it exactly started.

The first time an Indian side toured England was way back in 1886.

The tour, organised by the Parsee Cricketers of Bombay, was in the nature of an adventure. Only one match on the tour resulted in victory, and eight out of 28 games were drawn.

The Indians were unfamiliar with English conditions, but their adaptability made an impression upon the Englishmen. The resultant appreciation provoked a further adventure two years later.

In 1888, P D Kanga, J M Divecha and D C Pandole organised a second visit and got together a stronger and more representative team. M D Pavri was one of the star bowlers of the side, which won eight matches, lost 11 and drew 12; a considerable improvement from the first visit.

The year 1911 witnessed the departure of India's first representative side, drawn from every community; it overcame the prejudices of centuries and crossed the seas to compete on more or less equal terms with the best of English county elevens. The tour was financed and captained by the young Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupendra Singh.

The best side that could be raised at that time was selected for the tour. But it was, of course, unfortunate that Ranjitsinhji was unable to play for India. Though the team suffered heavy defeats, the visit, nevertheless, proved to England that India could produce players who, with the proper training, could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in any arena. This team played 23 matches, of which it won six and drew two.

By this time there were three tours by an English side to India.

Between 1911 and 1926-27, owing to the outbreak of war, and lack of organising authority, the exchange of visiting teams between India and England lapsed. However, thanks to the efforts of the Calcutta Cricket Club authorities, a tour for an Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) side was organised in the winter of 1926-27.

It was quite obvious from the form shown by the Indian players during the tour that it would not be long before India would send a powerful team to England.

Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu's majestic personality and his dashing century against Arthur Gilligan’s MCC side paved the way for India’s baptism in international cricket.

After playing a match against the Rajputana and Central India at the Mayo College, Gilligan’s team played a series of matches in Bombay. The first was against The Hindus.

Col. CK Nayudu was far from consistent in the matches, played at the Bombay Gymkhana, Calcutta's Eden Gardens, and Chepauk, Madras. But his hard-hitting for The Hindus at the Bombay Gymkhana impressed Gilligan, who carried the message to the authorities in England that India was ready to play Test cricket.

Nayudu scored a blazing 158 off 100 balls, with 13 fours and 11 sixes, against an attack that had the brilliant Maurice Tate, George Geary and Bob Wyatt -- all fine exponents of seam bowling.

Prof. Dinkar Deodhar made an impact too with a 148 for the Indians in that series, but, by all accounts, it was Nayudu’s personality and batting prowess that impressed Gilligan and Tate, who was the most successful bowler for the MCC in that series.

After the unofficial visit of the MCC in 1926-27, negotiations to send an official All India team to England commenced. The tour came about when the MCC was forced to cancel its visit to India in 1930-31 in the face of civil disturbances arising from the independence movement. It decided instead to invite an Indian team to England in 1931, but a postponement until 1932 to allow more time for arrangements to be made meant the tour was not confirmed until August 31, 1931.

Because of political tension the Bombay Quadrangular was suspended, so it was not possible to gauge performances in this influential tournament to select players. Trials were arranged instead. The Hindu Gymkhana, in protest at playing cricket in England at such a time, did not send any players to the trial matches in the Punjab.

LP Jai, VM Merchant and Champak Mehta were unavailable because of the Hindu Gymkhana's opposition to the tour in protest against the jailing of Indian political leaders. KS Duleepsinhji was prevented by his uncle Ranjitsinhji, who was the chairman of selectors, from participating in the tour and he committed himself to a season of county cricket with Sussex.

The Nawab of Pataudi made himself unavailable at short notice, as some newspapers suggested, because he had not been offered a position of responsibility; but it may rather have been connected with his attempts to secure a place in the England eleven. The Times disapproved, saying, “… he had definitely promised to play ...he took part in all of the trials and accepted the captaincy of one of the sides in the last match."

At first it was suggested that an Englishman playing in India, like AL Hosie, CP Johnstone or RB Lagden, should skipper the side, to mollify the inevitable factions within the tour party. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) quickly resolved that the captain would be an Indian. The Maharaja of Patiala was appointed tour captain at first, with Prince Ganshyamsinhji of Limbdi as vice-captain, while the Maharaj Kumar of Vizianagram, who was prepared to underwrite the tour with £40,000 of his own fortune, was made deputy vice-captain. The tour party was announced on February 4, 1932. The selectors announced the names of 15 players in addition to the three senior appointments already made.

Two weeks before the tour, the Maharaja of Patiala withdrew for reasons of fitness, and Vizianagram then withdrew from the team citing his poor health and lack of form. On March 15, the choice of captain fell upon the Maharaja of Porbandar (he was married to Limbdi's sister), while Jahangir Khan was drafted into the party as a player in place of Vizianagram.

Indian squad for the 1932 tour of England:

LN Amar Singh

Kathiawar

21

RHB / RFM

SMH Colah

Bombay

29

RHB / RM

KS Ganshyamsinhji of Limbdi (Vice-captain)

Kathiawar

29

RHB  

Ghulam Mohammad

Karachi

33

RHB / LM

SR Godambe

Bombay Hindus

33

RHB / RM

M Jahangir Khan

Lahore

22

RHB / RFM

Capt S Joginder Singh

Patiala

27

RHB

BE Kapadia

Bombay

32

RHB / WK

Lall Singh

Southern Punjab

22

RHB / RM

Maharaja of Porbandar (Captain)

 -

30

RHB       

Mohammad Nissar

Lahore

21

RHB / RFM

ND Marshall

Bombay Parsees

27

RHB / RM

Naoomal Jaoomal

Karachi

28

RHB / RLB

Lt. J G Navle

Gwalior

29

RHB / WK

Capt. C K Nayudu

Indore

36

RHB / RM       

S Nazir Ali

Patiala

26

RHB / RFM

PE Palia

Mysore

21

LHB / SLA

Lt. S Wazir Ali

Southern Punjab

28

RHB / RM

Representation from regional teams: 

Bombay (2)

Bombay Hindus (1)

Bombay Parsees (1)

Gwalior (1)

Indore (1)

Karachi (2)

Kathiawar (2)

Lahore (2)

Mysore (1)

Patiala (2)

Southern Punjab (2)

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Image: Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu during the All-India tour of England in 1932
Photographs: Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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On April 2, 1932 the tour party sailed from Bombay on the mail ship Strathnaver.

Porbandar said, "Au revoir, India, we shall bring you laurels as you wish us to."

Limbdi remained in India for his wedding and sailed from Bombay at the end of April.

The ship reached Marseilles on April 15 and the tour party travelled by train across France, arriving at Victoria Station, London, the next afternoon. The headquarters of the team was the Midland Grand Hotel, St Pancras, London.

The BCCI’s choice of the Maharaja of Porbandar, while expedient, was pointless; as a cricketer, he had no ability and during the tour he appeared in only six first-class matches. Vice-captain Limbdi strained his back when scoring a century in a minor match, so in the Test the captaincy fell on C K Nayudu.

Porbandar had to order the players to unite and play under Nayudu, as he was a wise choice andr his cricket knowledge was unsurpassed. He was already 36 years of age but superbly fit and strong, and he confirmed he was India's best batsman.

Wisden's Almanack chose him as one of its five Cricketers of the Year.

India’s first-ever Test appearance was on June 25, 1932, when he led the All-India team to the turf of Lord's to face the English national side. In those days, Tests against anyone other than Australia were of three days' duration and started on a Saturday, with a rest day on the Sunday. The average age of Indian team on the first day of the Test was 27 years, nine months.

Although fast bowlers Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh bowled wonderfully well in the match and dismissed England before tea on the first day, India was outclassed and lost by 158 runs.

Nazir Ali and Nayudu apart, the batsmen had played all their cricket on matting wickets; thus, it could be considered that they acquitted themselves well.

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Image: The Indian cricket team on arrival at Victoria station in London on April 16, 1932
Photographs: Harrison /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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This report appeared in The Cricketer, for the week ending July 2, 1932.

(1st day, Saturday June 25, 1932)

Glorious weather - a crowd of some 25,000, and a fast pitch, greeted the Indians in their first Test match, an event, we believe, of more than mere cricketing importance. The most famous ground in the world, enriched as it is by long years of high tradition, was looking its best with its own particular atmosphere when the Indians having lost the toss went out to field. And what a series of shocks they gave us Sutcliffe, Holmes, and Woolley out for 19 runs in 20 minutes! The crowd were staggered, though they did not fail to applaud vociferously the men who had so quickly forced England to play with her back to the wall.

Luckily England had in Jardine, the captain, a steel-hearted warrior to hold the pass, and he and Hammond pulled the game round. How came it about that the two Yorkshiremen and the Pride of Kent were so soon back in the pavilion?

Sutcliffe played an in-swinging yorker on to his leg-stump, Holmes's off stump was sent flying by an off break that came off the pitch like lightning, and Woolley ran himself out, calling for a second run wide of mid-on when the ball was literally in the right hand of Lall Singh, who returned it hard and true on the long hop to the wicketkeeper and Woolley was out by a yard and more. It was an extraordinary lapse of judgment on the part of a highly experienced cricketer who should have known that Lall Singh was about the best fields-man in an exceptionally good fielding side.

And here one must add that Sutcliffe and Holmes, because of a county match at Leeds, had not arrived in London until after midnight after a long and tiring journey. If Test matches are necessary -- which they certainly are -- some arrangement must in future be come to so as to ensure our representatives having a long night's rest before a Test match begins. The same fate, only rather worse,was also the lot of Hammond, who travelled from Swansea. Bowes, too, had come from Leeds. The counties benefit very considerably financially from the Tests, and it is imperative that their representatives should take the field in the best possible trim.

To return to the match. Jardine and Hammond had added 92 runs when immediately after lunch Hammond played on to a yorker. Paynter could not time the ball and at 166 Jardine's splendid innings came to an end by a smart catch at the wicket. He had saved his side, and his cast-iron defence, and his cool determination were never better emphasised. He had made 79 of the 147 runs scored while he was at the wickets. Ames started shakily. He might have been stumped off Nayudu before he had scored, though the ball was rather wide on the off side, and in the 40's he edged a ball of Amar Singh's which either the wicketkeeper or slip might have held, but he played a bold dashing innings full of strokes and enterprise which was of untold value. Robins timed the ball beautifully, and he and Ames put on 63 runs in thirty minutes. Brown was out a great catch off a hard hit low down in the gully, and Robins fell to second slip.

The bowling of Nissar, Amar Singh; Nayudu, and Khan was really good. Loose balls were very seldom seen, and all the bowlers came fast off the ground. Nissar was the most successful, but Amar Singh was probably the best. Nayudu is a clever bowler. Medium pace he flights the ball, can spin it from the off and sends down a faster delivery. All their bowlers bowl with a very free loose arm. Amar Singh had, to begin with, three slips, and three short legs. The attack was first-class and the batsmen never got on top of it, supported as it was by brilliant and very quick fielding - a delight to all. Navle was smart at the wicket, but he missed two or three chances, and might be even more effective if there were a little less flourish about his work.

Bad light twice interrupted India's innings. Thirty were scored without loss. Bowes, bowling from the Pavilion end, was a great disappointment, and on Saturday night's form was a sheer waste of a new ball. Nowadays the umpires decide on the fitness or otherwise of the light. The batsmen are not allowed to appeal. Will Mr. James Douglas please remember this.

The Indians undoubtedly took the honours of the first day's play, especially as Nazir Ali, a fine allrounder, was off the field most of the time with a pulled muscle.

(2nd day, Monday June 27, 1932)

There was again a big crowd of some 21,000, and His Majesty the King honoured the game with his presence, the two teams being presented to him in front of the pavilion.

The England bowling looked much better than it had done on Saturday evening, but for a long time the Indians held their own and at lunch the score was 153 for 4. After lunch there was a collapse and by twenty past three the innings was all over for 189 which gave England the useful lead of 70 runs. The bowling was very well managed by Jardine and the fielding was excellent, Paynter, Robins and Voce and Brown particularly so. Ames had some nasty balls to take on the leg side and did very well. It would not be correct to say that the attack was of a high class but it was at any rate, reasonably good. Robins looked the most difficult, and deserved another wicket or two. Voce was accurate and had some devil, but we would prefer to see him bowl with one short leg less and with a slip. Bowes is a far better bowler when he bowls a length. He is apt to bowl too short and simply wasted the new ball on Saturday evening. He is very tall and brings the ball down from a great height, but he is doing his side no good by pitching the ball nearer his own than the batsman's stumps. To opening batsmen he must bowl a length so as to give his swing and pace off the ground more chance of a wicket. Brown bowled a fair length and sent down a good googlie -- but his leg break is not so prominent as it was.

England started even worse than in their first innings Sutcliffe, Holmes, Hammond, and Woolley being out for 67 runs. Sutcliffe was a long way below his best, but Woolley and Hammond both made some lovely strokes before being out - Woolley being caught at slip. Once again Jardine stepped into the breach at a crisis, and ably assisted by Paynter brought the score to 141 before the close of play. Jardine's bat was as straight and as broad as it always is, and Paynter batted far better than on Saturday, and made some clean drives and pulls. He showed good nerve and judgment at a critical moment and is deserving of all praise. The Indians' fielding was magnificent.

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Image: England captain Douglas Jardine bats against India at Lord's
Photographs: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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(3rd day, Tuesday June 28, 1932)

Paynter was soon out unluckily playing a ball on to his foot whence it rebounded on to his stumps. Ames left at 169, but Jardine was in great form and first with Robins and then with Brown runs were added so fast that at half-past twelve the innings was declared closed, 134 runs having been made in one hour and a half. It would be impossible to overpraise Jardine's batting. In both innings he faced a very difficult situation with great courage and coolness and on this third day he played some beautiful strokes on the off side.

With the pitch a little worn nobody expected India to get the runs and with seven wickets down for 108 a tame finish seemed certain, but Amar Singh played a remarkable innings. He hit Robins for 19 in one over, including a six, and in 45 minutes he and Lall Singh put on 74 runs. He certainly was magnificent on both sides of the wicket, and with his long reach he got to the spinning deliveries of Robins and hit them with rare power.

Lall Singh should have been stumped earlier on off Robins. He played very well, using his supple wrists to advantage.

It was Hammond who got rid of both batsmen and Nissar, and by ten minutes past four the match was over and England, who had on two occasions during the match had been in trouble, won easily.

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Image: Ghulam Mahomed (left) and S H M Colah
Photographs: J. Gaiger/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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Although the Indian team lost by 158 runs, it earned laurels for a heroic display.

Out of 38 matches in a very strenuous programme, 13 were won, 14 drawn and only nine lost. Two matches were abandoned.

Result of India’s matches on the tour of 1932:

 

 Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Abandoned

Test Matches

  1

  0

1

  0

-

Other first-class matches

25

  8

8

  9

-

Minor matches

12

  5

0

  5

2

All Matches

38

13

9

14

2

Top run-getters and wicket-takers during the tour (in first-class matches):

(Leading run-getters)

 

Mts

Runs

Hs

Avg

100s

CK Nayudu

26

1618

162

40.45

5

Naoomal Jaoomal

26

1297

164*

30.88

2

S Wazir Ali

23

1229

178

32.34

4

S Nazir Ali

20

1020

109

31.87

1

SHM Colah

22

900

122

25.00

1

L Amar Singh

22

641

131*

22.89

2

JG Navle

21

600

64

15.78

0

(Leading wicket-takers)

 

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

L Amar Singh

22

111

8-90

20.37

57.42

M Nissar

18

71

6-32

18.09

44.95

CK Nayudu

26

65

5-21

25.53

61.63

M Jahangir Khan

21

53

4-48

29.05

84.26

S Nazir Ali

20

23

5-69

21.78

58.47

Naoomal Jaoomal

26

17

5-68

35.35

54.76

PE Palia

16

17

4-46

38.41

107.17

The team left Victoria Station in London, on boat-train on Sunday morning, September 18, 1932, and after taking a ferry across the English Channel to France, travelled overland by rail to Marseilles to board a ship back to India.

The King sent a message of goodwill to the Maharaja of Porbandar, who replied: "The gracious hope of His Majesty that we have enjoyed our time here has been abundantly fulfilled. We are gratified at the measure of success achieved and our enjoyment has stood the test of the strenuous, non-stop work of the English cricket season. The greatest kindness has been shown us on every hand and we shall retain the happiest recollections of British hospitality and sportsmanship. I cherish the hope that an All-England team will visit India in the cold weather season of 1933-34."

They embarked at Marseilles on the P & O liner Viceroy of India on September 22 and reached Bombay on October 3, 1932.

The team had been away from India for 184 days.


Image: Nazir Ali (left) and Mahomed Nissar
Photographs: J. Gaiger/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
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