November 12, 2012

Kapil's sixes and Trueman's snorters

And nine other memorable individual performances in Tests between England and India

Ian Botham
Arguably the best all-round performance in any Test was produced by Botham in a special match in Bombay (now Mumbai) in February 1980, to mark the golden jubilee of the formation of the Indian board. After taking 6 for 58, Botham smacked 114 to ensure England took a handy lead, then claimed 7 for 48 as India were bundled out for 149. It was, according to Wisden, "an extraordinary all-round performance by Botham, whose versatility was in full bloom".

Sunil Gavaskar
A Little Master when Sachin Tendulkar was still a glint in his parents' eyes, Gavaskar had a fine record against England, scoring more runs in Tests between the two than anyone else (2483; Tendulkar, currently on 2423, should overtake him soon). His highest score came in a thrilling match at The Oval in 1979, in which India were set 438 in more than eight hours: Gavaskar led the chase with a superb innings. "On and on the little man batted," remembered Bob Willis, "the improbable dream becoming more and more horribly possible from our point of view." At 389 for 3, with eight overs left, India looked likely to win. But then Gavaskar was out for a superb 221, and the remaining batsmen struggled. India ended up just short, at 429 for 8, but it was the most honourable of draws.

Graham Gooch
Gooch might have turned 37 in the middle of the 1990 English season, but age didn't seem to wither him. Uniquely, he scored more than 1000 Test runs that summer, in six matches against India and New Zealand, and a record 456 of them came in the first Test against India at Lord's. Let off by wicketkeeper Kiran More when 36 - one of Test cricket's most costly drops - Gooch sailed on to 333, and added 123 in the second innings. And, just to prove it really was his match, he threw down the stumps to run out India's last man and seal England's victory.

Rahul Dravid
India might have been steamrollered in 2011, but one of the highlights was watching Dravid, in what turned out to be his farewell to England, roll back the years and bat like an illustration from the MCC coaching manual. He started with a peachy hundred at Lord's, added another at Trent Bridge - when pushed to open - and rounded off the series by carrying his bat for 146 not out at The Oval. Here was one man who didn't deserve to be part of a 4-0 whitewash.

Fred Trueman
The best bowling figures in England-India Tests were produced by the legendary Trueman, back in 1952. That was Fiery Fred's debut series, and he'd already shaken India up in the first Test at Headingley, where they crashed to 0 for 4 (a unique scoreline in Tests) in the second innings. And Trueman was at it again in the third Test, at Old Trafford, rampaging to 8 for 31 as India collapsed for 58. "The Indians had not relished Trueman's fast bowling in previous matches," wrote the England spinner Tony Lock, who was making his debut. "This time they were downright scared of it."

Vinoo Mankad
India might have been well beaten in England in 1952, but in the Lord's Test their key player, Mankad - released from his duties as a professional in the Lancashire League - delivered a remarkable all-round performance. First he top-scored with 72 as India made 235, then toiled through 73 overs of left-arm spin - taking 5 for 196 - as the home side ran up 537. As he was also opening the innings, he didn't get much chance to relax... he went straight back out and scored 184. Even then he wasn't finished: England needed 79 to win, but it took them 49.2 overs, 24 of which were delivered by Mankad. "It was the effort of a Trojan warrior," wrote his captain, Vijay Hazare, "and my comparison to Homer is not without justification."

John Lever
The Essex left-arm fast bowler Lever made quite a splash on his Test debut, in Delhi in December 1976. Cheered up by uncustomary success with the bat - 53 in his first Test innings - he then dismantled India by taking 7 for 46, and added three more in the follow-on to complete an innings victory. But during the third Test the Indians complained about the Vaseline-impregnated strips Lever had briefly worn in an attempt to keep sweat out of his eyes, saying he must have used the Vaseline to help shine and swing the ball. "It simply did not work," said Lever of the anti-sweat experiment, "and after a short time I ripped mine off and threw it on to the ground close to the stumps." But it was picked up by the umpire, whose day job was as a policeman... and the fun started.

Sachin Tendulkar
Tendulkar has scored seven Test centuries against England so far, equalling Rahul Dravid's record (England's best is five, by Ian Botham, Graham Gooch and Kevin Pietersen), but the pick of them was arguably the first, a match-saving 119 not out at Old Trafford in 1990, when he was just 17. "He looked the embodiment of India's famous opener, Gavaskar," recorded Wisden, "and indeed was wearing a pair of his pads." It was the innings that confirmed what many already suspected - that here was a unique talent. Ninety-nine international hundreds later, those opinions seem to have been borne out.

David Lloyd
David "Bumble" Lloyd only reached 50 once in his nine-Test career, but made it count when he did, piling up 214 not out at Edgbaston in 1974, in what was only his second Test appearance. Unusually, Lloyd got some encouragement from the opposition: "I recall Farokh Engineer - India's wicketkeeper but my team-mate at Lancashire - continually muttering to me 'Keep going, Bumble, you'll get a lot here.'"

Kapil Dev
He may have taken more wickets - 85 - in England-India Tests than any other pace bowler, but the great allrounder Kapil is probably best remembered for one batting feat: smashing four successive sixes to save the follow-on at Lord's in 1990. He had been joined by last man Narendra Hirwani with India still 23 short of the mark, but hammered four successive deliveries back over the head of England's offspinner Eddie Hemmings. The drama was increased as the stands at the Nursery end were being rebuilt at the time, and the ball kept clattering around in the building site. The fourth straight six (a Test record) saved the follow-on, after which Hirwani was out first ball at the other end.

Bhagwath Chandrasekhar
No one has taken more wickets in England-India Tests than the bouncy legspinner Chandrasekhar, whose 95 victims included nine in wins in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1972-73 and Bangalore in 1976-77. But his best-remembered spell came at The Oval in 1971, when his 6 for 38 hustled England out for 101 and set up India's first-ever Test (and series) victory in England. "Chandrasekhar gave the batsmen no relief," intoned Wisden. "He was wonderfully accurate for a bowler of his type and his extra pace made him a formidable proposition even on the sluggish Oval pitch."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012