My India Tour - Richard Hadlee October 13, 2003

'It was like a sauna'

Richard Hadlee
I was 25 years of age and had to be the strike bowler as Richard Collingewas struggling

Touring India, assuredly, is much more than Phil Tufnell's poverty and elephants. Newcomers must adjust not only to a country of vast contrasts and stunning diversity but also to pitches and match atmospheres unlike any other in the world. In the fourth of the My India Tour series, Richard Hadlee talks about his special memories from the 1976-77 tour of India.

I was 25 years of age and had to be the strike bowler as Richard Collinge was struggling. It was an early season tour for us, and that meant we had to train indoors during the winter. I had never been to India, and the climate, the heat and the humidity was a shock. You hear the stories and you talk to people about the conditions, but until you experience them yourself, you don't really know. It was like a sauna, and the stories of food problems and sickness all rang true.

I remember at Madras for the third Test I was violently ill on the boundary about 10 minutes into the match and it was a day-and-a-half before I got out of bed to play again. Lance Cairns and Andy Roberts opened our bowling one day. We were well beaten in the series and it was a wonderful learning experience with the culture and the conditions.

I performed pretty well on the tour, in the six Test matches [New Zealand also played three Tests against Pakistan] I took 23 wickets and captain Glenn Turner said after we got home that "Richard Hadlee came of age on this tour." That was a huge boost for me coming from him at that time.

We didn't do well on the tour and were well beaten and when you look back at the matches you see those three great spinners, [Bishan] Bedi, [Bhagwat] Chandrasekhar and [Srinivas] Venkataraghavan were nearing the end of their careers. We were a young team and you tend to be a little bit intimidated by that sort of experience being lined up against you. You look up to players like them and tend to be over-awed by them. That is until you sit down and talk about them and realise they are just the same as you. Nowadays you are taught that from the outset but in the mid-1970s there was no one around to teach, you had to learn the hard way. But you came back harder and stronger.

Richard Hadlee was speaking to Lynn McConnell.

Other My Indian Tours
'The dinner service was all gold' - John Reid's tour in 1955-56.
'You could score a hundred if you keep your head down' - Bruce Taylor's tour in 1964-65.
Much more than cricket - Glenn Turner's tour in 1969-70.