First Cornhill Test


Favoured by fine sunny weather and a perfect pitch for run-making, England made the most of Brearley's good fortune in winning the toss. Though overwhelmed in the end, India's batsmen put up a most gallant display. However, apart from Kapil Dev, who took all five England wickets with his lively pace, and Venkataraghavan's modest off-spin, much of the bowling was second-rate and off the target.

England again owed much to Boycott, whose solid resistance for more than seven and a half hours (he hit twelve 4s in his 155) led to the mammoth total of 633 for five. Boycott himself was fourth to leave at 426. Only twice had England exceeded that score at home, both times against Australia in 1938.

The talented, fair-haired Gower deservedly received the Man of the Match awarded of £300 for his not out 200, his highest first-class innings. If less aggressive than usual, he paid due respect to the bowling, but for six hours he stroked the ball with effortless ease past cover, and hooked and pulled anything short. Altogether he hit one 6 and 24 4s.

After a staid opening stand by Boycott and Brearley of 66, including 24 extras, Gooch arrived just before lunch followed the dismissal of Randall. At last the runs began to flow as the tall Essex player struck one 6 and thirteen 4s in his brilliant 83 in two hours. By the end of the first day England had reached 318 for three, with Boycott 113 and Gower 43. All three wickets had been snapped up by Reddy, the Indian wicket-keeper, on his Test début.

On the second day England put on 315 runs in four and a half hours. The day belonged to the left-handed Gower, whose stand with Boycott ran to 191, and whose unbroken partnership of 165 with Miller was the best for the sixth wicket for England against India. Miller took toll of weary bowlers for nearly two and a half hours. For once, Chandrasekhar did not do himself justice. On the eve of the match he was declared unfit to play because of Achilles tendon trouble in his left ankle, but he did play and bowled extremely well early in the match until unable to stand the strain. Amarnath also went lame, with the result that a tremendous amount of work fell on the willing opening pair, Kapil Dev and left-armer Ghavri.

After their long spell in the field India had to bat for seventy-five minutes at the end of the second day. Almost immediately Botham struck; in his second over Chauhan could not avoid a lifting ball and went to a fine low catch by Gooch at third slip. Gavaskar and the tall Vengsarkar settled down well against an attacking field, and all went smoothly until the last ball of the day when Vengsarkar, with India on 59, fell to another smart catch by Gooch, this time at silly point.

Not until thirty-five minutes before tea did any England bowler meet with success on Saturday, when a large crowd admired the superb back-to-the-wall efforts of Gavaskar and his brother-in-law, Viswanath. For one hundred minutes they defied all that Brearley could offer, and then came a tragic run out. Gavaskar turned Willis towards mid wicket where Randall, tearing in from mid-on, swooped on the ball. Viswanath sent back Gavaskar, but Taylor, who had been standing well back, sprinted up and broke the wicket with Gavaskar still far from home. For three hours Gavaskar had looked safe and sound in his white sun hat, giving the impression that he was bound for his twentieth Test century. He hit three 4s.

Viswanath still resisted manfully, altogether for three and a half hours. He hit nine 4s before Edmonds induced a bat and pad catch at point. Gaekwad stayed for two hours and Amarnath withstood much short stuff from Botham, but England were well on top. They fielded brilliantly and Brearley varied his attack skilfully. India had to follow on 336 behind and stood even without loss over the weekend.

Botham stole the honours on the fourth day with another of his amazing spells of bowling when England took the second new ball at 227 for four. Up to that point India had defended nobly on a perfect pitch which had given no encouragement to the bowlers. Then in forty minutes they collapsed dramatically with the last six wickets falling in 10.1 overs for 26 runs. Botham claimed four for 10 runs in five overs and took his record in eighteen Tests to 94 wickets. This time he reduced his pace and, concentrating on line and length, regained his ability to swing the ball in alarming fashion for the unfortunate Indians. For once, Taylor was not at his best behind the stumps and he missed stumping Viswanath and Amarnath off Edmonds. Earlier Gavaskar and Chauhan had played through the pre-lunch session and raised their opening partnership to 124 before Randall picked up Chauhan at shortish cover.

Botham finished with five for 70 and he had an able assistant in Hendrick, who took four for 45. It was a surprise, lifting ball from Hendrick which deceived Gavaskar and provided a catch at third slip for Gooch, who later began the Indian collapse when he dived low to his left, again at third slip, and held a slice from Gaekwad. Long before Willis had retired with a tiresome pain in his ribs. N.P.

© John Wisden & Co