First Test Match

England v India

Norman Preston

At Nottingham, June 4, 5, 6, 8. England won by an innings and 59 runs. For their first Test since returning from Australia England left out Richardson, Graveney, Bailey, Lock and Laker and chose only six of the men who went on that tour, namely, May, Cowdrey, Milton, Evans, Statham and Trueman. They introduced Taylor, Horton and Greenhough to Test cricket and recalled Barrington and Moss.

When India dismissed Milton, Cowdrey and Taylor for 60 runs there was a possibility that they would take charge, but a masterly exhibition by May, the captain, whose 106 was the thirteenth century in his distinguished Test career, enabled England to finish the first day with the handsome score of 358 for six crickets. Barrington played a useful part in the recovery for he stayed with May while 125 runs were put on for the fourth wicket, and later in the day daring hitting by Evans, who made 73 from the 73 balls he received, reduced the hitherto keen Indian bowling to a thing of shreds and patches.

England were fortunate when May won the toss for the twenty-second time in the thirty-three matches he had led his country. The pitch was in excellent condition and the sun shone with tropical warmth.

Surendranath, a surprise choice for the match seeing that he could boast only nine wickets on the tour at over 40 runs each, swung the ball deceptively in the humid atmosphere and maintained his attack in grand style for ninety-five minutes, his figures for the spell being 14-7-28-2. Gupte packed his off-field after lunch with a line of five men in an effort to check May's deadly cover drives, and Gaekwad set his men a fine example by the way he picked up the hottest drives from his rival captain's bat. May hit eighteen 4's and never offered a chance during his three and three-quarter hours at the crease.

Desai, who had bowled admirably with Surendranath before lunch, suffered severely from Evans when he took the second new ball, six overs by him costing 54. Horton began shakily but, inspired by Evans, he also produced some punishing strokes.

England kept India in the field for another hour first thing Saturday while the last 64 runs were obtained. Horton fell to the fifth ball of the day and soon afterwards Nadkarni, trying to take a hot return from Statham, severely bruised his left hand, an injury which greatly handicapped his batting.

With May keeping Statham, Trueman and Moss fresh by using them in short relays, England opened with a hostile attack and India's first hour at the wicket yielded only 14 runs. In the end Greenhough separated the first pair with a loose ball outside the leg stump that the left-handed Contractor lifted to Barrington at long-leg. May had introduced Greenhough at 18 and he gave him a spell of sixteen overs during which he conceded only 16 runs.

India needed two hours ten minutes to reach 50, but at tea they were 79 for one wicket. Trueman put a different aspect on the game in his first two overs after the interval. He yorked Umrigar and then knocked back Roy's leg stump with a fine inswinger on a good length. Roy had defied England for three hours. As soon as Borde arrived, May brought back Greenhough, but the new batsman and Manjrekar offered solid resistance. The weather deteriorated and no sooner had Manjrekar successfully appealed against the light than a heavy rain storm developed. Within ten minutes the whole of the pitch had been covered, with play for the day given up. India were 306 behind with seven wickets standing.

On Saturday, India gave a pathetic display on a hard, fast and true pitch. They had no adequate answer to genuine fast bowling and collapsed. Borde could not finish his innings because in warding off a rising ball from Trueman the little finger of his left hand was fractured. Nadkarni carried on bravely, but withdrew his damaged left hand at the moment of impact between bat and ball.

Except when Greenhough sent down five overs at the beginning of the day while England were waiting for the new ball, May kept his fast men going in relays till the India innings was completed at a quarter to three. These tactics allowed India no respite. Trueman was the main destroyer with four wickets for 45 and he always looked likely to tear through the whole side.

India fell below England in every phase of the game. The difference in the batting was reflected in the time they occupied over their total of 206. It took six and a quarter hours, whereas England needed only seven hours for 422. Gaekwad, the India captain, though struck in the ribs and on the left in-step, never flinched and in the matter of defensive technique did better than the rest of the side. He fell to a great catch by Evans on the leg side.

Following on, 216 behind, India soon lost Contractor to a smart, low slip catch by Cowdrey, but Roy and Umrigar made a determined stand until the latter offered no stroke to a ball that took his off-stump. The closely set England fielders missed some sharp chances, but Roy gave another solid display. This time his stay lasted two hours forty minutes and altogether he batted for five hours forty minutes in the match, scoring 103. Conditions had not been pleasant for batsmen on this third day because of a strong wind and India finished in a hopeless position, for with seven wickets left they still wanted 120 to make England bat again.

On Monday, heavy morning showers kept many people away and only 500 were present to see England clinch the issue at half-past three with a day to spare. Statham, five wickets for 31, was always menacing and though Gaekwad and Manjrekar offered praiseworthy resistance for an hour as soon as they were separated the end was in sight.

Greenhough succeeded in breaking the stand with a skilfully slighted top-spinner which pitched short. Manjrekar hooked too soon and was leg before. A short rain storm caused a delay of forty minutes, and on resuming for a few minutes before lunch Statham claimed the new ball without gaining immediate success.

The left-handed Nadkarni, whose bruised hand gave him so much pain the first innings, showed no signs of distress while he kept up his end for forty-five minutes until Statham bowled him round his legs. Gaekwad remained safe while he could play forward, but Statham compelled him to play off the back foot and Horton held the Indian captain in the gully. To his credit Gaekwad defied England in each innings for two and a quarter hours. Finally, May caught Gupte and Desai and India's fate was sealed. They batted one short owing to Borde's mishap. India had never won a Test in England and they left the impression that until their batsmen cast away their inferiority complex and make some effort to dominate the game that long-sought success will never come.

As for England, this new combination had many defects and on the form shown was one of the poorest that ever represented the old country. The two big problems of opening batting and spin bowling remained unsolved. Attendance for the four days was 32,509, with receipts £8,008.

© John Wisden & Co