The Nayudu effect

Lord of Lord’s… Dilip Vengsarkar belts Paul Allott to the fence on way to his century in 1982. It was the second of his three centuries on the hallowed turf.-Pics. THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

It all began in June 1932 at Lord’s. Since then India and England have played 103 Test matches in all. G. Viswanath on India’s highs and lows in the bilateral series.

The late Raj Singh Dungarpur was one of the romantics who liked to be engaged in cricket conversations, especially on the game’s tradition and history. His friends at the Cricket Club of India, Mayo College, Ajmer, and Daly College, Indore, and a number of others called him the ‘ready reckoner’ or the ‘walking compendium’ of Indian cricket. When prompted, he would instantly name Col. C. K. (Cottari Kanakaiya) Nayudu as the true trailblazer of Indian cricket. Raj Singh was of the view that it was Nayudu’s majestic personality and his dashing century against Arthur Gilligan’s Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) that paved the way for India’s baptism in international cricket, with the first Test against England played at Lord’s in June 1932.

The MCC visited India and Ceylon in the winter of 1926-27 in order to parade its skills and popularise the game in the region. 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 one was against The Hindus. Col. Nayudu was far from consistent in the matches played at the Bombay Gymkhana, Eden Gardens, Calcutta, and Chepauk, Madras. But Raj Singh would reminisce the Indian giant’s palm-tree hitting for The Hindus at the Bombay Gymkhana and say that it was this particular knock that mightily impressed Gilligan who carried the message to the authorities in England that India was ready to play Test cricket.

Nayudu made 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.

Raj Singh, a cricketer, administrator and historian, paid handsome tributes to Nayudu’s batting: “Tall and well built, Nayudu was blessed with supple wrists and, like nearly all his countrymen, a keen eye, and he was a strong player in front of the wicket, his driving was clean and powerful. He was a clever slow to medium bowler who could spin the ball and flight it and a very fine batsman. In his best days he was worthy of a place in almost any side.”

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.

It took nearly six years after that for India to play its first Test at Lord’s and bowl to the opening pair of Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes, both of Yorkshire, who had put together a world record stand of 555 against Essex. India validated its newfound status, reducing England to 110 for four (8-1: Sutcliffe, 11-2: Holmes, 19-3: Frank Woolley and 110-4: Wally Hammond) in the first innings and 67 for four in the second (30-1: Sutcliffe, 34-2: Holmes, 54-3: Hammond and 67-4: Woolley). India’s fast bowler Mohammed Nissar took five wickets for 93 and one for 42 while fellow-paceman Amar Singh claimed two for 75 and two for 84. Skipper Nayudu made 40 and 10, but Bill Bowes, Bill Voce, Fred Brown and Hammond wrecked India as England won the Test by 158 runs.

India’s first Test against England at home was played at the Bombay Gymkhana. The match was memorable for Lala Amarnath’s 118 — the first Indian to score a Test century — against the likes of Morris Stanley Nichols, Edward Winchester Clark and Hedley Verity. Nayudu made 28 and 67 and once again Nissar took five wickets in an innings, but India lost the Test by nine wickets. England played two more Test matches, at the Eden Gardens and Chepuak. Left-arm spinner Verity routed India with an 11-wicket haul (7 and 4) as England won the Test at Chepauk by 202 runs.

India's captain G. R. Viswanath in conversation with Bob Taylor of England during the Jubilee Test. Known for his sense of fairplay, Viswanath called Taylor back to the crease after the umpire had declared him out.-

India and England have played 103 Tests in all, with England winning 38, losing 19 and drawing 46. India has won 14 at home and lost 11.

For India, the highlights clearly have been: 1) the first series win in England in 1971 under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar following leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar’s match-winning effort of 6 for 38 at The Oval, 2) the 2-0 win in 1986 when the seam attack of skipper Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma (16 wickets in two Tests, with 10 for 188 at Edgbaston being his best), Roger Binny and spinner Maninder Singh played the lead roles, 3) Dilip Vengsarkar’s three centuries at Lord’s (103 in 1979, 157 in 1982 and 126 in 1986 and also the 102 at Leeds in 1986), 4) the Lord’s Test of 1952 which also came to be known as Mankad’s Test because of Vinoo Mankad’s 72 and 184 and 5 for 196 off 73 overs and 5) Gavaskar’s monumental effort of 221 at The Oval in 1979.

The India-England series has also seen the unique bowling effort of left-arm spinner Bapoo Nadkarni, who sent down 26 maiden overs to Brian Bolus and Ken Barrington in the Madras Test of the 1963-64 series.

Among the lows are India being reduced to 0 for 4 in the second innings of the Leeds Test of 1952 when Fred Trueman took three wickets and Alec Bedser one, being shot out for 42 in the second innings of the Lord’s Test in 1974 and losing the 2011 series 4-0.

England has had many moments to cherish in India including Ian Botham’s spectacular bowling (6 for 58 and 7 for 48) that enabled his side to win the Jubilee Test by 10 wickets in 1980. It was also known for Gundappa Viswanath’s sporting gesture as he recalled Bob Taylor to the crease after the umpire had declared him out. However, England has not won a Test series in India for 27 years after David Gower’s team won the 1984-85 series 2-1.