England 5 India 0

India in England, 1959

There can be no denying that the Indian tour of 1959 was a disappointment for the team as well as for the British public. Twelve months ago Wisden recorded that in recent years no touring team has gone through such a lean time as did the New Zealanders. Now we have India with a more dismal story, for they suffered eleven defeats --five more than the New Zealanders -- and their seven wins in 35 matches were exactly the same.

While the New Zealanders arrived during the worst summer on record and had to contend with persistent rain, there was no excuse for India as they enjoyed one of the finest summers in living memory and, moreover, man for man they were a more talented bunch, but they never harnessed their resources. Instead, they performed as a set of individuals.

Seven years had elapsed since the previous side under V.S. Hazare visited England, but far from building up a combination in the meantime for this vital tour India relied mainly on immature youngsters. They left the impression that since they have ceased to employ English coaches their standard of cricket has receded considerably. They were no match for England, who for the first time won all five Tests in the same series.

One of India's biggest problems, that of captaincy, has been with them for many years. Their whole approach to the game gave the impression of needing revision, for their cricket appeared to be tainted with the same faults that in this modern age have spoiled the game as a spectacle in nearly all parts of the Commonwealth, including England. These blemishes were the negative attitude to batting and bowling and the disinclination to take the slightest risk, so that cricket becomes boring and drives the paying public to seek their entertainment elsewhere.

The main defects were the lack of top-class opening batsmen who would have set the innings on a sure foundation, the need of genuine fast bowlers of the Nissar-Amar Singh brand, and until late in the tour a tendency to slothful fielding.

D.K. Gaekwad was not the first visiting captain to tour England and play well below his best form. The Baroda player never suggested that he had the verve and personality to carry this exacting task, and he appeared a sick man midway through the tour. He did well to miss only one Test match. There were times when his cover fielding was brilliant, and his innings of 176 against Yorkshire at Sheffield made many wonder why he was not more successful. A more active approach to all he did, especially his field placing, would have been welcome.

The vice-captain, Roy, returned a bespectacled player and his batting stance was more two-eyed than ever. This meant he was more vulnerable to anything leaving him near the off-stump and his tendency to play off the back foot was the cause of his poor start to the tour. His lone century was at Oxford, but his dour efforts in each innings of the first Test at Trent Bridge, besides his Sheffield performances and his 95 out of 154 in the second Surrey game, all suggested he was capable of better things. Strangely enough, the side showed better form when he took over in Gaekwad's absence and his frequent consultations with other senior members of the side obviously helped in this improvement.

Manjrekar, India's most attractive and prolific run-getter for years, was in the hands of the doctors and masseurs before he appeared in the nets and it was always a struggle to keep him fit. Arriving terribly overweight, Manjrekar was constantly struggling in the field and all too often the sub fielder was called to his rescue. His batting prowess was not too much impaired, and he was the one man who looked likely to make runs against the England attack. Always quick to spot Greenhough's googly and always master if Trueman offered a bouncer, it was very unfortunate that Manjrekar played in only nine games, for he never failed. The second Test at Lord's was his last appearance and he then underwent an operation for the removal of a knee cap.

Umrigar, India's senior batsman and former Test captain, started in a blaze of glory and hit over 800 runs, including two double centuries, in the month of May. He proved to be a perfect run machine against the less powerful sides, although these huge innings were never spectacular. Still one of the game's outstanding powerful straight drivers, Umrigar had a sticky run in the Tests against Statham, but at the eighth attempt he made a century in the second innings at Old Trafford and redeemed himself. A finger injury while fielding at Cheltenham caused Umrigar to miss the last Test as well as the six remaining games. Only one English batsman (M.J.K. Smith) appeared above Umrigar in the averages, which high position was no doubt due to the four three-figure innings which Umrigar played, i.e. 252 v Cambridge University, 203 v Somerset at Taunton, 202 not out v Northamptonshire, and 153 not out v Scotland.

In mid-July it was decided to invite Baig, the Oxford Freshman, to replace the crippled Manjrekar and this proved a wise move. After his brilliant form in the Parks, the young Hyderabad player hit two centuries in his first two games for his countrymen, 102 v Middlesex and 112 in the second innings of the Old Trafford Test, and in all he made three centuries in his twelve games for the touring team. Baig's approach to the game was pleasant to observe and his influence could do much to restore India's cricket. For one so small, he was extremely powerful all round the wicket and his ability to hook fast bowling stamped him as a great player in the making. Equally sprightly in the field, Baig's inclusion strengthened the out-cricket and his throwing was fast and accurate. Baig's maiden Test century and the manner of his dismissal by Dexter's brilliant pick-up and throw will be talked about at Old Trafford for a long time.

The left-handed Contractor, having made a century in each innings in his first appearance in a first-class match, was awaited with much interest, but on the whole to impress the public that he was more than an ordinary plodder. Courage was his greatest attribute, as he showed in the Lord's Test when he was suffering from a cracked rib. Contractor's solitary century was made in the Hastings Festival match, and he will be remembered for his leg-side glances, but his cross bat driving when trying to push along the rate of scoring revealed his limitations.

Apte arrived in this country as one of the few recognised opening batsmen who had yet to make a century in a first-class match. Heralded as a brilliant stroke-player and most promising youngster, he did not make a run till mid-June in the eleventh game of the tour. Soon afterwards he showed at Chesterfield how brilliant he could be and his 165 against Jackson and Rhodes was easily the most attractive innings played by any of the touring party. He failed to reach double figures in either innings of his solitary Test appearance at Leeds, but later managed centuries at Swansea on a dry-sticky wicket and in the Festival game at Hastings.

Coming to the bowlers, first and foremost were the opening pair, Desai and Surendranath, though neither was above medium-fast. Desai had rare ability and it was a pity that he had to be brought to England almost straight out of junior cricket. He possessed that very rare attribute of being able to bowl outswingers to right-handed batsmen and he had endless courage. He found himself terribly overworked in the Tests; the Leeds crowd must have wondered from where he obtained his stamina as he toiled with little respite. Tiny was a very popular player on all the grounds and he returned to India a vastly improved cricketer. Surendranath, the Army bowler, was a long time finding his touch and had only nine wickets to his credit in six games before the first Test. Making use of the non-restricted leg-side field, Surendranath spent hours bowling down the leg side to batsmen who offered no strokes to such tactics and there was much dull cricket to watch. For one not too well endowed physically, he stood up well to many long spells of bowling, especially in the Tests. With cricket struggling hard to keep the game attractive there is no room today for this type of leg-theory attack, and this happy cricketer would help the game if he developed his attack on the off-stump instead of outside the leg-stump .

Nadkarni, a left-handed all-rounder, finished the tour as the most improved player in the side, and what he lacked in style as a batsman or as a spinner when bowling, he made up by his courage. A smart fielder near the wicket, he held many good catches and staked a claim to a permanent place in the Indian Test eleven -- possibly a future captain. A badly damaged finger in the first Test kept him out of the Lord's Test and he proved such a valuable member of the party that he missed only two of the last twenty games. Moreover, he appeared to thrive on all this extra work. Ever willing, he often found himself batting number three or four towards the end of the tour but although out of his class there, he persevered. He should learn to spin the ball more and then he will find he will dismiss sides quicker, if at a higher cost.

Fergie Gupte, best known of all the tourist bowlers, was heralded as the world's best leg-break and googly bowler. With hard wickets to help him his return was not comparable with other performers. He was adequately assisted by both wicket-keepers, but soon lost heart if his support in the field was not one hundred per cent. Field placings which may have served Gupte well during his long experience in the League were totally inadequate to cope with batsmen of superior class and cost him endless runs. All told, England's batsmen were not so vulnerable to the leg-break attacks as had been expected and their long look at Gupte provided useful experience for the visit of Benaud in 1961.

Borde, despite a broken finger injury in the first Test which put him out of action for five matches, almost completed the double and was the tourists' outstanding cricketer. Attractive to watch in any position on the field, his happy approach to every phase in the game made him popular everywhere. It seemed difficult to realise that he did not make one century in his 1,000 runs, but he always gave the idea that he was getting his runs in the interest of the side. Whenever called on to bowl he very seldom failed to break a partnership and the biggest mystery of the whole tour was why he was never called on to bowl in the last Oval Test when England made 364.

Kripal Singh, chosen as a promising all-rounder, was a profound disappointment. He scored 309 out of his 879 runs after the last Test match. He was unable to do any substantial bowling owing to his spinning finger soon becoming sore and he spent much time in the doctor's hands, despite the beautiful English summer. He never looked happy nor interested in the important phase of fielding. Another disappointment was Ghorpade, who, for an all-round cricketer of his ability, fell below expectations in scoring only 833 runs and taking no more than two wickets. With other leg-break bowlers, Gupte and Borde, in the side, Ghorpade was asked to bowl only forty-two overs during the tour. Despite this, he was one of the hardest-working members of the party and was invariably twelfth man when not playing. He appeared in the second and third Tests and his cover fielding was the outstanding feature in the tourists' performances. A good stroke player, Ghorpade could still serve Indian cricket with his attractive methods.

One of the promising young cricketers sent to learn was Jaisimha, but he was often asked to accomplish performances for which he was not qualified -- as an opening bowler. A brilliant fielder in any position and a stroke player of the highest potential, he needed to be taught the technique of playing a long innings.

Joshi, an experienced wicket-keeper, played in three Tests. He kept quite well throughout the tour, but completely lost his batting form. An opening bat in India and prolific run-getter, he had one solitary half-century to his name and that was a swash-buckling effort against Sussex. Tamhane, the other wicket-keeper, also had a successful tour, but like his counterpart, Joshi, his batting form was well below his known Indian standard. Like Joshi, he gave excellent support to the leg-spin bowlers and proved himself in the Tests at Leeds and The Oval

When Ghulam Ahmed declined his invitation to tour the selectors turned to Muddiah, the Indian Air Force off-spin bowler. He had played all his cricket on matting surfaces and never adapted himself successfully to turf pitches. Bowling at almost medium pace he was too optimistic in his efforts to turn the ball. His chance of settling down was marred through illness which kept him out of the game for a whole month.

Despite their lack of success, the Indians were always a happy party off the field and the way they disported themselves wherever they went made them extremely popular under their efficient and genial manager, His Highness the Maharaja of Baroda. India's total share of gate receipts was £30,000 which gave them a profit of £5,000.

INDIA RESULTS

Test Matches.--Played 5, Lost 5.

First-Class Matches.--Played 33, Won 6, Lost 11, Drawn 16.

All Matches.--Played 35, Won 7, Lost 11, Drawn 17.

Wins.--Club Cricket Conference, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Northamptonshire, Middlesex, Glamorgan, Kent.

Losses.-- England (5), Glamorgan, M.C.C., Minor Counties, Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire, T.N. Pearce's XI.

Draws.-- Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Surrey (2), Essex, Somerset, Lancashire (2), Derbyshire, Scotland, Yorkshire (2), Sussex, Warwickshire, Hampshire, A.E.R. Gilligan's XI, Durham.


Match reports for

Tour Match: Worcestershire v Indians at Worcester, Apr 29-May 1, 1959
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Tour Match: Cambridge University v Indians at Cambridge, May 6-8, 1959
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Tour Match: Leicestershire v Indians at Leicester, May 9-12, 1959
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Tour Match: Surrey v Indians at The Oval, May 13-15, 1959
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Tour Match: Glamorgan v Indians at Cardiff, May 16-19, 1959
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Tour Match: Essex v Indians at Ilford, May 20-22, 1959
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Tour Match: Marylebone Cricket Club v Indians at Lord's, May 23-26, 1959
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Tour Match: Oxford University v Indians at Oxford, May 27-29, 1959
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Tour Match: Somerset v Indians at Taunton, May 30-Jun 2, 1959
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1st Test: England v India at Nottingham, Jun 4-8, 1959
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Tour Match: Minor Counties v Indians at Stoke-on-Trent, Jun 10-12, 1959
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Tour Match: Northamptonshire v Indians at Northampton, Jun 13-16, 1959
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2nd Test: England v India at Lord's, Jun 18-20, 1959
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Tour Match: Lancashire v Indians at Manchester, Jun 24-26, 1959
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Tour Match: Derbyshire v Indians at Chesterfield, Jun 27-30, 1959
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3rd Test: England v India at Leeds, Jul 2-4, 1959
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Tour Match: Scotland v Indians at Paisley, Jul 8-10, 1959
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Tour Match: Yorkshire v Indians at Sheffield, Jul 11-14, 1959
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Tour Match: Sussex v Indians at Hove, Jul 15-17, 1959
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Tour Match: Middlesex v Indians at Lord's, Jul 18-21, 1959
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4th Test: England v India at Manchester, Jul 23-28, 1959
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Tour Match: Surrey v Indians at The Oval, Jul 29-31, 1959
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Tour Match: Glamorgan v Indians at Swansea, Aug 1-4, 1959
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Tour Match: Warwickshire v Indians at Birmingham, Aug 5-7, 1959
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Tour Match: Nottinghamshire v Indians at Nottingham, Aug 8-11, 1959
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Tour Match: Yorkshire v Indians at Bradford, Aug 12-14, 1959
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Tour Match: Gloucestershire v Indians at Cheltenham, Aug 15-18, 1959
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5th Test: England v India at The Oval, Aug 20-24, 1959
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Tour Match: Hampshire v Indians at Bournemouth, Aug 26-28, 1959
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Tour Match: Kent v Indians at Canterbury, Aug 29-Sep 1, 1959
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Tour Match: AER Gilligan's XI v Indians at Hastings, Sep 2-4, 1959
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Tour Match: Lancashire v Indians at Blackpool, Sep 5-8, 1959
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Tour Match: TN Pearce's XI v Indians at Scarborough, Sep 9-11, 1959
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© John Wisden & Co