First Test

England v India

Norman Preston

At Headingley, Leeds, June 8, 9, 10, 12, 13. England won by six wickets with two and three-quarter hours to spare. India, hit by the weather in May with little chance of accustoming themselves to English conditions, entered the match without a victory to their credit and their reputations so sullied that only small crowds attended, the best being on Saturday when 12,000 were present.

Happily, the sun shone continuously and, inspired by the fine batting of their captain, The Nawab of Pataudi, the touring team covered themselves with glory after two dismal days when they appeared to be reeling to swift defeat.

They might well have been demoralised when on the first day two key bowlers, Surti and Bedi, were laid low by injuries. Ten minutes after the lunch interval, Surti, fielding at short fine leg, was struck below the left knee and an hour and a half later Bedi went off with severe leg strain. Neither fielded again and could only hobble to the wicket to bat with a runner.

Yet, despite all their misfortunes the gallant Indians struggled bravely, Pataudi batted magnificently for 64 and 148 and Engineer, in both innings, Wadekar and Hanumant showed excellent form.

Indeed, India, 386 behind on the first innings, accomplished the rare feat of passing 500 in the follow on. Test cricket provides only two previous instances; England made 551 against South Africa at Trent Bridge in 1947 after being 325 behind, Pakistan, at Bridgetown in 1958, having made only 106 in reply to West Indies' 579 followed with 657 for eight, of which Hanif Mohammad scored 337 in sixteen hours, thirty-nine minutes, the longest innings in first-class cricket.

The Headingley groundsman had prepared an excellent pitch but later watering left it damp at the pavilion end on the first day when, after Close won the toss, England for a long time struggled for runs. But they reached 281 for three by the time stumps were drawn with Boycott, 106 not out, Barrington (one 6 and eight 4's) and Graveney (one 6 and nine 4's), providing the best entertainment.

On Friday, England treated the depleted Indian attack mercilessly and in three and a half hours put on 269 before Close declared.

Boycott finished with 246 not out, the highest individual innings for any Test between England and India, as well as his own highest in first-class cricket. He hit one 6 and twenty-nine 4's and did not make a false stroke, but his lack of enterprise met with much disapproval and the selectors dropped him for the next Test.

D'Oliveira (thirteen 4's) hit first Test century and his stand of 252 with Boycott was the second highest in the series, falling only 14 behind that by W.R. Hammond and T.S. Worthington at The Oval in 1936.

In the absence of Surti, Saxena opened the India innings with Engineer and they saw the total to 28 at tea. Afterwards, the batting broke down and although The Nawab proved defiant for the last fifty minutes, six wickets fell in an hour and a half for 86; the match looked as good as over.

Boycott, who had trodden on the ball, did not field again until the fifth day. India, despite their seemingly hopeless position, fought back nobly after Snow had removed Guha's off stump at 92. Surti limped to the wicket with Wadekar as his runner and he stayed ninety-six minutes, helping Pataudi to put on 59.

Hobbs held a return catch by Surti from a full toss for his first wicket in a Test, and he finished the innings by taking the last three in ten balls. Pataudi, last out, batted splendidly for just over three hours. He drove Illingworth for 6 and also hit seven 4's.

When India followed on shortly after lunch on Saturday, Surti, with the twelfth man Venkataraghavan as his runner, went in first with Engineer but soon edged Snow to the wicket-keeper. Then the England bowlers sampled the brilliant form Indian batsmen often display on their own sun drenched grounds.

In a scintillating record second-wicket stand of 168 for India against England in two and a half hours, Engineer and Wadekar struck boundary after boundary. Engineer, hit fourteen 4's and after he left, Wadekar turned to defence, playing out the remaining three-quarters of an hour with Borde, so that the total reached 198 for two at the week-end, with Wadekar 84 not out.

India continued their grand fight on the fourth day and for the second time in the match The Nawab set his men a splendid example. Wadekar was taken at leg side for 91 after half an hour. He had hit sixteen 4's and made his runs in three and three-quarter hours. Half an hour later Borde hooked across the spin and was bowled, whereupon Hanumant and Pataudi proceeded to clear off the remainder of the first innings deficit. They were together for three hours, adding 134, and before the end of the day Pataudi had completed his sixth Test century; his third against England.

Prasanna, who had bowled so spiritedly for hour after hour, stayed with his captain while the seventh wicket put on 60. Next Higgs gained his first wicket of the match when he knocked over Guha's middle stump and India were 475 at the close, Pataudi having made 129 not out in five hours.

The captain batted for fifty more minutes on Tuesday, altogether hitting one 6 and fifteen 4's and finally Bedi was held in the deep when the innings had lasted ten and a half hours. India's total of 510 was their highest against England.

England wanted only 125 to win and with Barrington, who opened the innings with Edrich, hitting freely for 46, it proved a light task, despite some fine bowling by Chandrasekhar and Prasanna.

© John Wisden & Co