Kapil's sixes and Trueman's snorters

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

Steven Lynch

November 12, 2012

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Sunil Gavaskar pulls one to the leg side during his double-century, England v India, 4th Test, The Oval, 4th day, 3 September, 1979
Sunil Gavaskar on his way to 221 at The Oval, 1979 © Getty Images

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.

Fred Trueman during his 8 for 31 spell against India in 1952, England v India, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 19 July, 1952
Fred Trueman ripping out Indian batsmen at Old Trafford in 1952 © Getty Images

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

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Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 18:09 GMT)

Emancipator is right about Kapil's record against West Indies. In Tests, his batting average against WI was slightly less than his overall batting average while his bowling average was significantly lower. And he did take 9 for 83 against WI in 1983-84 in a match played at Ahmedabad. One can check statsguru

Posted by Cricfan_99 on (November 13, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

No Azhar in the list ??? 3 back 2 back centuries on debut against 'em and a blitz at lords in which made Gooch's triple look like a pale shadow...It should've been an automatic selection .. also sachin's 4th innings match winning century chasing 387 should have also been included!!! instead we get a low key bumble ton!!!

Posted by RoshanF on (November 13, 2012, 15:33 GMT)

mikey71 =- you are wrong . Botham was most certainly nowhere near the best cricketer on the planet. That accolade is firmly with the mighty Sir Viv Richards. Just because Botham was a great all rounder (except whenever he played the best team ever - the West Indies) that didnit mean he was the best cricketer. Imran Khan was the the clear No. 2 - and Imran no doubt is the greatest cricketer ever to come from Asia. And Emancipator, Kapil most certainly DID NOT do that well against the Windies. The world cup win was a flash in the pan. Remember barely six months later IN INDIA the Windies totally incinerated India (World Champions???) at home to the tune of 5 - 0 in ODIs and 3 - 0 in Tests. And Kapil was there alright. Your " Kapil used to cane the WI pacers scoring 100s and 50s in both formats, picking up loads of wickets (9 for 53 being best)" is absolute fantasy although hilarious I have to admit. Mind you Kapil was a true great but not against the West Indies. Now Imran did.

Posted by johnal on (November 13, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

plenty great names but add a few more dlip vengsakar centuries at lords . azharuddin majestic hundred also at lords but for me the 2 performances that stand out are gavaskar double hundred and botham all round feat

Posted by aby_prasad on (November 13, 2012, 12:05 GMT)

good cricketing knowledge emancipator!

Posted by Emancipator007 on (November 13, 2012, 5:23 GMT)

@Mikey76: How and why did the BEST player on the planet (that record during that period is no doubt awesome and Beefy was a fav of mine) freeze and just COULD NOT perform against the best team of his era (and of all time)- WI whereas Imran and Kapil almost always raised their game against same team? And Botham was still in his 20's when he faced the marauding WI - so no excuse about him facing them when he was a spent force. As I mentioned, Kapil used to cane the WI pacers scoring 100s and 50s in both formats, picking up loads of wickets (9 for 53 being best). Imran was DECISIVE with both bat and ball in 2 of the toughest Test series of all time against WI (in'86 in Pak and '88 in WI). Imran and Kapil are rated higher simply cos of that. Plus Imran ONLY captain to never lose any series with WI and Kap only captain to win 2 ODIs in a World Cup (including Final '83) against WI.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 2:01 GMT)


Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (November 12, 2012, 21:43 GMT)

Would prefer to see Vengsarkar, Kumble or Zaheer Khan in this list to David Lloyd

Posted by mikey76 on (November 12, 2012, 21:24 GMT)

To those who rank Imran Khan and Kapil Dev above Botham, the centenary test of 1980 is the perfect response. Neither of those cricketers came close to matching such a feat. Between 1978-1982 I.T Botham was the best cricketer on the planet and this was his zenith.

Posted by   on (November 12, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

David Gower, Kevin Pietersen, Raymond Illingworth. All should be in the list

Posted by   on (November 12, 2012, 16:28 GMT)

Why is there no azharuddin in this list. Three centuries in a row should earn him an automatic place

Posted by cricket-india on (November 12, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

with 3 successive centuries on test debut and a thrill-a-minute century to rival gooch's 333, azhar should've made the list.

Posted by Arun14 on (November 12, 2012, 14:59 GMT)

No Dilip Vengsarkar? He became the first overseas cricketer to score three 100s at Lord's. The third of those centuries helped India win the first test of the series in 1986. He followed that up with another match winning century in the second test which sealed the series for India - their first series victory in England since 1971. During that time he also featured as the first no.1 batsman on the erstwhile Coopers and Lybrands rankings and ended up staying on top for two years. He needs to be on this list.

Posted by onkar4in on (November 12, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

You kidding? Azharuddin's century at lords was straight from heavens!!! I dont believe you forgot that!!

Posted by   on (November 12, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

No Azza in the list. Three 100's in a row followed by another two in England . Another thrill a minute 100 at the Eden

Posted by Vivek.Bhandari on (November 12, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

I know it's a Cricinfo XI and can't include everybody's choice; but Kumble's 21 wickets in the 92-93 series was definitely a revelation. Especially when the English coach observed about him in India's tour of SA that "their leading leg spinner couldn't turn the ball from leg to off".

Posted by milesy100 on (November 12, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

And Kumble's hundred in 2007....

Posted by Emancipator007 on (November 12, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

Sunny's 221 was possibly the 2nd greatest Test innings of the 20th century (on par with Stan McCabe's 232 in 1938) and missed being accorded legendary status by the 9 runs needed for victory (the lower order bats did not have the nous to score the remaining runs in ODI mode in the mandatory overs). Sunny also had a peculiar record in Eng, doing well in the '70s and failing in the '80s.In fact he failed in 3 consecutive series against Eng since '82 tour (inc. V Eng in India '84). Any batting exploits of Kapil being highlighted is not a surprise as he was the most naturally talented bat after Viv and Gower in the '80s, but never did JUSTICE to that aspect of his game. Kapil alone among the Big 4 all-rounders used to regularly cane the WI pace bowlers during their prime in both Tests and ODIs and had an impossible! (for that era) 90 SR in ODIs.

Posted by natasrik on (November 12, 2012, 4:30 GMT)

How can anyone forget the record which as to date still belongs to Mohd Azharuddin, 3 tons in debut series against the England team.

Posted by CricketFanIndUS on (November 12, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

I enjoyed this excellent article. David Gower also should have made this list.

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Steven LynchClose
Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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