Summer of 42 to humiliation in Adelaide - Engineer looks at the problems

Farokh Engineer distinctly remembers what the team of 1974 had to go through after that collapse against England, and he admits that the innings of 36 is a new low for the Indian team.

Virat Kohli fielding on day three of the first Test in Adelaide.   -  AP Photo

At the iconic Lord’s, 46 years ago, the Indian cricket team, led by Ajit Wadekar, had one of its most embarrassing moments. Against a mighty England, a rather star-studded Indian team was bundled out for 42 runs - which until Saturday morning - was the lowest-ever Test score in the history of Indian cricket.

But things changed on Saturday afternoon as Virat Kohli’s Indian team set a new low after being bowled out for 36 by Australia at Adelaide.

In that Lord’s Test of 1974, the Indian innings was over at nine down with B.S. Chandrasekhar being “absent hurt", and as a mere co-incidence, on Saturday, even Mohammed Shami had to leave retire hurt.

Read: Cummins, Hazlewood raze India, Australia wins inside three days  

Despite being in a comfortable position on the second day of the day-night Test, India crumbled with Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins breathing fire in the seaming conditions of Australia.

And former India wicketkeeper-batsman, Farokh Engineer, who was part of that Lord’s Test in 1974 remembers how Geoff Arnold scalped four wickets and Chris Old grabbed a five-for to leave India in tatters, four and a half decades ago.

“That wicket in England was swinging and seaming and in such conditions, you can’t do much. But today, the Indian batsmen just hung their bats up outside the off-stump and gave them opportunities. It was a clear case of inept batting,” Engineer, who watched the day-night Test on television from his home in England, told Sportstar.

Also read: Mohammed Shami set to miss remainder of Test series  

“Our fielding was also poor, we dropped so many catches and in Test cricket, you cannot do that. You cannot give the opponents a chance…”

India had the edge over the host team till Friday as it managed to gain a first innings lead and that had given the fans a hope that Kohli’s men will be able to start the series with a win. “Even I hoped that we will be able to capitalise on our lead, unfortunately that did not happen. We just collapsed and there was nothing wrong with the wicket. They bowled well, but we were just not good enough,” Engineer said.

“Adelaide is a good batting wicket and I have always loved batting there. But all credit to Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, they bowled very well. Our batsmen batted badly - technically they were not good enough. It’s a sad day for India and I genuinely believe that with Virat Kohli going away now, it will have a huge impact on the team,” the former cricketer said.

Former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer also singled out Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood for special praise. (File photo)   -  Vivek Bendre

 

“I wish Virat and Anushka (Sharma) all the very best for the birth of their first child, but he will be missed on the tour because of his captaincy and batting. He is certainly one of the finest batsmen around…”

Gavaskar: Aussie bowlers were superb, unfair to blame Indian batsmen  

While he distinctly remembers what the team of 1974 had to go through after that collapse against England, Engineer admits that the innings of 36 is a new low for the Indian team. “It is very embarrassing to be all out for 36 on a wicket that wasn’t all that great. They bowled in very good line and length. But I feel that we have been playing more T20s and IPL, and that’s having an impact. You would not imagine a Gavaskar, a (Dilip) Vengsarkar or a (Sachin) Tendulkar getting out playing such cheap shots. We were not good enough today,” he said.

While most of his team-mates from that 1974 tour of England were not willing to talk about the ‘Summer of 42’, Madan Lal told PTI that the team just did not play well that day. “I don’t have any recollection of that match. Just that we played badly and dukh bhari baatein yaad karne ka kya faayda (what’s the use of remembering something that hurts so much),” Madan Lal said.

Also read: Kohli says "it really hurts" after eight-wicket loss to Australia  

Over the last four and a half decades, there have been several stories around the ‘Summer of 42’ - which had a long-lasting impact on Indian cricket. With the game evolving and Indian cricket emerging as one of the superpowers, no one imagined that something like the ‘36’ could ever happen.

But then, it’s not for nothing that cricket is called a game of glorious uncertainties!