Cricket rewind: India's Test debut is 85 years old

Jun 25, 2017, 18:58 IST | Clayton Murzello

The 1932 Indian team in England. Back row: Lall Singh, PE Palia, M Jahangir Khan, Mohammad Nissar, L Amar Singh, Bahadur Kapadia, Shankarrao Godambe, Ghulam Mohammad, Janardan Navle. Seated: Syed Wazir Ali, CK Nayudu, Maharaja of Porbandar (captain), KS Limbdi (vice-captain), Syed Nazir Ali, Joginder Singh. Front row: Naoomal Jaoomal, SMH Colah and Nariman Marshall. Pic Courtesy: Complete History of Cricket Tours at Home and Abroad by Peter Wynne-ThomasThe 1932 Indian team in England. Back row: Lall Singh, PE Palia, M Jahangir Khan, Mohammad Nissar, L Amar Singh, Bahadur Kapadia, Shankarrao Godambe, Ghulam Mohammad, Janardan Navle. Seated: Syed Wazir Ali, CK Nayudu, Maharaja of Porbandar (captain), KS Limbdi (vice-captain), Syed Nazir Ali, Joginder Singh. Front row: Naoomal Jaoomal, SMH Colah and Nariman Marshall. Pic Courtesy: Complete History of Cricket Tours at Home and Abroad by Peter Wynne-Thomas

June 25 is a red-letter day in Indian cricket, a day when Kapil Dev and his team clinched one-day cricket's greatest prize for the first time at London's Lord's Cricket Ground in 1983.

Indeed, Indian cricket was never the same after the events of 25-06-1983. Our cricketing heroes became somewhat rich, extraordinarily famous and economics bludgeoned its way into the game like never before.

But when and where did international cricket start for India? It was on June 25, 1932 when CK Nayudu led his Test team on the hallowed turf of Lord's to do battle with Douglas Jardine's Englishmen.

It is a coincidence that Indian cricket is presently facing stormy times just like it was exactly 85 years ago. At 4 am on the morning of June 25, 1932, a bunch of players knocked on the door of tour captain, the Maharajah of Porbandar to express their unwillingness to play under Nayudu. The matter was resolved by a cable sent from India by the influential Maharaja of Patiala.

India's 1932 Lord's Test captain CK Nayudu who dismissed five batsmen in England’s first innings. Pic/Getty Images
India's 1932 Lord's Test captain CK Nayudu who dismissed five batsmen in England's first innings. Pic/Getty Images

Some members of the team had taken exception to the fact that Nayudu threatened them with non-selection for the Lord's Test if they didn't improve their discipline. In his 1976 'History of Indian Cricket', Edward Docker wrote: "The reports reaching India told of drunkenness and late hours and alleged that when CK tried to call some of them to order and threatened them out of the Test match if they didn't improve, fist fights had broken out and CK had been angrily abused."
Earlier, Porbandar, who hadn't scored many runs in the tour games, withdrew from the rest of the tour. The media highlighted the fact that the only aspect he excelled in was making speeches.

Docker wrote: "He (Porbandar) had batted only three times in first-class matches on the tour, his innings of 0, 2 and 0 giving him an average of less than one and inspired this remark that he was the only cricketer to have owned more Rolls-Royces than scored runs on a tour of England." Porbandar also declared that his doctors had advised him to rest after a bout of malaria.

India's 1932 Lord's Mohammad Nissar who dismissed five batsmen in England’s first innings. Pic/Getty Images
India's 1932 Lord's Mohammad Nissar who dismissed five batsmen in England's first innings. Pic/Getty Images

Porbandar's brother-in-law KS Limbdi who was vice-captain, suffered a back injury and that's how Nayudu became India's first Test captain. He had a fine reputation to be looked upon as India's big batting hope for the one-off Test at Lord's to commence on June 25. In 'CK Nayudu, the Shahenshah of Indian Cricket', historian and Mumbai's oldest living first-class cricketer Vasant Raiji (97) wrote about how some English writers called Nayudu the Indian Don Bradman but celebrated writer Neville Cardus disagreed. "Unlike Bradman, his skill is his servant, not his master," wrote Cardus.

Small crowd for starters
A small crowd watched Nayudu and Jardine walk out to toss for the 11.30 am start. Jardine decided to bat first and out went the Yorkshire opening pair of Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe. Only 10 days earlier, they had put on a world record opening partnership of 555 against Essex.

All present at Lord's were set for another batting feast. But when the scoreboard read eight, Sutcliffe's furniture was disturbed by Mohammad Nissar. Three runs later, Holmes' off-stump was sent cartwheeling by the same bowler. Frank Woolley, the charming left-hand bat, who walked in after Sutcliffe departed, misjudged his second run and was run out by the quicksilver Lall Singh, who according to Docker, "glided over the ground like a snake, and his pick-up and return to 'keeper (Janardan) Navle just beat Woolley home." In half an hour, England were reduced to 18 for three. Nayudu's field was attacking and his fielders swooped on almost everything.

Lord's fills up
By now, cricket lovers in London started heading to Lord's. Jardine and Walter Hammond steadied the ship with an 82-run stand, but that was the best partnership of the innings as Hammond chopped an Amar Singh delivery on to his off stump and Jardine succumbed to his opposite number's off-spin, snicking one to wicketkeeper Navle. Jardine top-scored with 79, but in Cardus' opinion, the most attractive innings was played by Les Ames, who scored 65 before being bowled by Amar Singh. Ames got a life even before opening his account when Navle missed a stumping chance and Cardus wrote, "If Ames had got out at once, England's position at the end of the innings would indeed have provoked much hilarity in the places of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide."

Cardus praised Navle for attempting to stump Jardine before his benevolence towards Ames.

Stumper Navle praised
"I suggest that the man who seeks to stump Jardine is an optimist," wrote Cardus. Nissar ended up with 5 for 93 in 26 overs while his opening partner Amar Singh claimed 2 for 75; captain Nayudu 2 for 40 with his off-spin as England were bowled out for 259. India ended the day with 30 for no loss (Navle 11, Naoomal Jaoomal 11) in poor light and British Movietone's news reel headlined their coverage with the words: "ENGLAND DISMISSED CHEAPLY BY INDIA – Youngest Test country at Lord's acquits itself well in only representative match of tour."

The next two days of the Test
By lunch on Day Two (June 27), India reached 153 for four but their last six wickets fell for only 36 runs - all in one hour. England declared their second innings at 275 for eight and left India to make 346 for an improbable victory. They collapsed to 187 all out with Amar Singh top-scoring with 51. Skipper Nayudu was handicapped with the bat as he had bruised his arm while fielding. England won by 158 runs.

Did you know?
Although the Indian fielding and bowling were praised by the English pundits, the team was not a united one. In his book on the history of Indian cricket, Edward Docker wrote that attacking batsman SMH Colah threatened to throw Nayudu off the ship while returning to India.

70 One-drop batsman Wazir Ali scored the most runs for India in the Test

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