July 22, 2012

Indian cricket

Reliving India's Test debut

Abhishek Mukherjee

Eighty years on from India's first Test match, Boria Majumdar looks back on the match and tour in the Outlook, with captain CK Nayudu’s scrapbooks as a source.

It was as play unfolded in the first and only Test match at Lord’s that the Indians shocked the English in the first half-hour itself. The MCC was reduced to a dismal 19-3 by some excellent Indian bowling and fielding. Wrote The Birmingham Post: “The All India cricket team has administered a few shocks to the dignity and confidence of England today. If there were among the 24,000 spectators at Lord’s some who imagined that the granting of a Test match by the MCC to the tourists from the Indian empire was merely an amiable concession, then they had a very rude awakening before the close of play.

Former India offspinner Srinivas Venkataraghavan, in the same magazine, takes us through the transformation in pitches over time based on his personal experiences.

In the early 1950s, Chepauk in Chennai used to be a good sporting track. The ground was surrounded by trees and the sea breeze had its impression on the wicket. The construction of the modern-day stadium spoilt the effect, turning it into a dust bowl. Today, the wicket does not possess the same bounce and carry of the olden days. I played on one of the fastest tracks at Chepauk in a series in the late 1970s. It’d rained a lot over the first 10 days of preparation, which led to the curator using only light rollers a few times and once the top surface hardened—the heavy roller. The result: a fast, hard, bouncy track. The effect of rollers on pitch preparation cannot be over-emphasised.

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