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When the M. C. C. team captained by A. E. R. Gilligan visited India in the winter of 1926-27, two matches against All-India produced close struggles which earned recognition in a Test match at Lord's in 1932. Although beaten by 158 runs, India then shaped so well that the need for a far stronger side for a subsequent visit was apparent. So, D. R. Jardine, the victorious captain in Australia the winter before, was chosen to go out with a really powerful team in the autumn of 1933.
Decisive wins came in two of the Tests and England held a big advantage in the drawn game at Calcutta until the loss of two wickets spoiled the final position, but, unlike the previous side which went through a heavy programme without a reverse, Jardine's team suffered defeat from Vizianagram by 14 runs.
This break in the regular run of defeats or drawn matches must give encouragement to the further development of the game in India. A marked advance was noticeable already throughout the tour in the great improvement in the condition of the grounds, the accommodation provided and the increased attendances. All these important points meant real progress, but cricket itself had not risen to the same degree as the authorities had shown in their preparations for the visit. The public interest taken in every engagement helped to make the trip very enjoyable.
Members of the team on their return said they rarely met such stern opposition or saw so much skilful play as expected after what the Indians did when in England. Possibly the great strength of the visiting side created a feeling of, inevitable inferiority before a game began and so had a disheartening influence. Certainly the first two Tests were concluded before Major Nayudu got his men together sufficiently for them to find their proper form as a team. This was noticeable especially in the fielding, which could be compared favourably in smartness to that of England as the third game progressed.
Of the Indian team the captain himself was no doubt the best all-round cricketer in the country. Amar Nath, who played a great innings in the first Test, The Yuvraj of Patiala and Merchant stood out prominently as batsmen. Nissar, the fast bowler, looked scarcely so good as when over here, but Amar Singh fully upheld his reputation for length and spin, notably when bowling round the wicket. Mushtaq Ali, a slow left-hand bowler and good right-hand batsman, should make a name.
Apart from individual superiority man for man, England naturally benefited from the skill of Jardine as a captain. Nayudu did not show sound judgment either in using his bowlers or in placing his field. The one victory gained and the good uphill struggle in the second match with England should influence the players to exercise more control and study more closely the essentials necessary to become first-class. Accepting as clear evidence of restricted talent the fact that the same men were met time after time, it was obvious that at present there are not many players of real ability in India. Then, too, similarity of opposition caused some monotony for the visitors.
While criticising the England side consideration must be given to the exhaustion due to continuous travelling and playing in the extreme heat of India. Some of the side gave signs of being tired out. Indeed, the effects of their heavy labours in the very trying climate were noticeable last summer in the doings of most of the team. Nichols, Clark, Langridge, Townsend and B. H. Valentine were not so robust in appearance as hitherto and the Essex fast bowler could not recover his accustomed health until late in the season. These players were among the most valuable members of the touring team. Clark, Nichols and Townsend, with Verity and Langridge, made a very formidable attack. The Yorkshireman had the best record, though Townsend headed the bowling list with a slightly superior average. C. S. Marriott was seldom as good as in England. J. H. Human suffered severely from malaria.
In batting three amateurs stood out over all the professionals. Jardine, Walters and Valentine usually were at the top of their form. On the whole, however, the Englishmen scarcely adapted themselves to the matting wickets as well as anticipated. In England batsmen have to play on such a variety of pitches changing from day to day that it was surprising that some of the team failed to come up to expectations under conditions new to them. But the heat, travelling, and constant social functions, always very pleasant, could be held responsible for anyone failing to do himself full justice.
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