From princes to plebians the Indian saga continues June 25, 2007

India commemorate 75 years of Test cricket

Cricinfo staff



Herbert Sutcliffe is bowled by Mohammad Nissar - India's first ever Test wicket © Cricinfo
It's 75 years to the day since India made their entry into the Test fold. It was a glorious summer day in 1932 when CK Nayudu walked out to lead a bunch of novices against England at Lord's.

The MCC is marking the 75th anniversary by commissioning a Pataudi Trophy, named after the Nawab of Pataudi Snr, who played for both England and India during his 14-year career. Interestingly India will soon embark on a full-fledged tour of England, opening the three-Test series with a game at Lord's.

In that debut Test the efforts of India's two opening bowlers, Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh, was soon to enter folklore. Nissar, an aggressive fast bowler from Lahore, had England hobbling at 11 for 2 before Singh added the big wicket of Wally Hammond. Nissar's son, Waqar, who's currently settled in Lahore still flicks through his father's scrap book, and even presented a copy of it to Sharad Pawar, the Indian board president, recently.

Singh, who named his son after Vijay Merchant, one of India's finest openers, died at the tender age of 29 after contracting typhoid. Merchant reciprocated his feelings for Singh by naming his own son Amar.

Several players from the team ended up in Pakistan, after Partition in 1947. Jahangir Khan, India's first-change bowler in that match, was one of them. His son Majid Khan had an illustrious career for Pakistan while his grandson Bazid made his Test debut as recently as 2005. The Ali brothers - Wazir and Nazir - also settled down in the western side of the border. Wazir's son, Khalid, managed two Tests for Pakistan in the 1954 season.

Naoomal Jaomal, one of India's openers, however, reversed the trend - he was born in Karachi but settled down in Bombay. However, he did his bit for Pakistan too: coaching them in the late 1950s and guiding players such as Hanif Mohammad and Nasim-ul-Ghani
Naoomal Jaomal, one of India's openers, however, reversed the trend - he was born in Karachi but settled down in Bombay. However, he did his bit for Pakistan too: coaching them in the late 1950s and guiding players such as Hanif Mohammad and Nasim-ul-Ghani. India's other opener in that game, Janardhan Navle, was also their first wicketkeeper. He managed just one other Test and sadly, according to veteran statistician Vasant Raiji, "died in penury, uncared for in his final years".

Lall Singh, the only Test cricketer to be born in Malaysia, didn't play another Test but will always be remembered, according to reports, as India's "first outstanding fielder". But if there's one man permanently associated with the Test it will be Nayudu. "He always used to take pride in the fact that India's Test journey began with him," says his daughter Chandra, a retired professor in English and the author of the book Nayudu, A Daughter Remembers.

"Though it was the Maharaja of Patiala who was the designated captain and the Ghanshyamsinhji of Limbdi the official vice-captain, both made way for my father to lead the side. It was indicative of his abilities as a leader and the readiness with which even princes were willing to give way to a common man," she told Cricinfo. As more and more youngsters make it to the national side from hitherto obscure parts of the nation, India's cricketing saga continues even as the game's popularity continues to soar.