Between October 8, 1961 and February 20, 1962, the M.C.C. cricketers took part in one of the most strenuous tours undertaken by any side. They played 24 matches in India, Pakistan and Ceylon, including eight five-day Tests, three in Pakistan and five in India.
The original tour plans had to be changed because India subsequently arranged a trip to West Indies in the February. This meant a strange programme, with three games, including one Test, being played in Pakistan, followed by the complete Indian part of the tour and then a return to Pakistan to finish the programme.
Winning the fourth and fifth Test Matches, the first three having been drawn, India defeated England in a series for the only time in history. England gained partial compensation by winning the rubber against Pakistan, being victorious in the first Test and, three months later, drawing the next two.
A solitary success in eight Tests could scarcely be regarded as satisfactory from England's point of view, even though there were extenuating circumstances.
In the first place England were not represented by their full-scale side. Players like Cowdrey, Statham and Trueman would almost certainly have made a big difference and, perhaps, tipped the balance in England's favour, for there was never much between the Test teams.
This business of leading players declining certain tours needs consideration by the authorities. India rightly point out that they have never seen a full-strength M.C.C. side and resent the fact that the star players make a habit of turning down the trip.
Admittedly English players find the tour harder and less comfortable than any other, but this scarcely justifies players, once they are established, picking and choosing which tour they want to make. It is no secret that in general the men who go to India, Pakistan and Ceylon regard themselves as a second eleven, often play like it and are caustic about the stars who stay at home.
India and Pakistan, for their parts, deserve the best, for the enthusiasm there has grown remarkably in a few years. Close on two million people watched the M.C.C., with approximately 1,200,000 at the eight Tests.
Another reason for England's lack of success was the bad luck of their captain, Dexter, with the toss. He won it only once in eight, at Bombay in the first Test with India. On that occasion England did reasonably well and had the better of the game, but that was the only time they established a mastery over India.
England began the Tests by winning at Lahore. Then came three drawn games against India, followed by two defeats. At Calcutta and Madras the pitches favoured spin increasingly as the matches progressed and losing the toss was a big handicap. India, to their credit, took their chances well, but the results might have been very much different had England batted first.
For all that, England had little cause for complaint. Taking the series as a whole, India just had the edge, mainly because of the length and strength of their batting. Without top-class fast bowlers capable of making an early break. England had to work extremely hard to dismiss India for a reasonable total on the dead, easy pitches found in three of the Tests. Even when they disposed of half the side fairly cheaply they still had plenty to do.
The spinners, Lock and Allen, performed extremely well over long, tiring spells, but they received little support. On the other hand England, who also looked to have a strong batting side, found themselves relying on three or four men, notably Barrington, Dexter and Pullar. Because of illness Pullar missed both matches England lost and his absence was a severe handicap.
Pakistan were not so solid in batting nor as good in bowling as India, and England always had a slight advantage against them. Only rarely did the standard of cricket reach above ordinary level and much of this was due to the safety-first methods adopted by the players. For the most part pitches gave not the slightest encouragement to bowlers, who often preferred just to keep down runs and wait for mistakes.
Not many batsmen were prepared to take even the slightest chance and a good deal of negative cricket resulted. Even in the games outside the Tests the M.C.C. players found most pitches too lifeless to force many results in the 15 hours set aside for the games.
Until he became stale towards the end of the tour and changed his style, probably under instructions, Barrington enjoyed a run of unbroken success. He scored centuries in each of the first four Tests and with other big innings as well, he completed 1,000 runs after only eleven games and in one of those he did not bat. Even though he fell away slightly he finished the tour with an average of almost 70 and his Test figures were 99.00 against India and 76.33 against Pakistan. He was one of those who found that by eliminating all risks, runs came in abundance. It may not have been exciting to watch, but it was certainly effective.
Dexter not quite the dashing batsman people in England knew him to be, played many fine innings including 205, the highest score of his career in the final Test against Pakistan. This brought his average for the three matches to 101.00. Against India he hit a century at Kanpur, after England had failed unaccountably on a perfect pitch in the first innings, and there were four other innings of 45 or more. As a captain he learned as he went along, but never seemed to possess the inspiration which a leader needs to make ordinary players do so much better.
The three left-handers, Pullar, Parfitt and Richardson, also completed 1,000 runs on the tour. Of the several youngsters on trial for future England places, Parfitt made most progress and he looked a likely prospect. More runs should have come from the look middle order batsmen, especially on the easy pitches encountered.
Because a large proportion of their bowling was done in the Test Matches, Lock and Allen did not finish, as they deserved to do, in the first two places in the overall tour averages. Instead White and Brown, the fastest bowlers, who did little Test bowling came first and second.
White was not always fit and greater efforts might have been made to remedy this. Neither looked very impressive when tried in the early Tests and they lost their places to the steadier Knight and David Smith.
Murray, after his success as wicket-keeper against Australia, fell away and just over half-way during the tour returned home for an operation on varicose veins. Before that Millman had earned his Test place by his quiet efficiency. Binks was flown out to replace Murray, but played in only two first-class games.
The leading personalities for India were Manjrekar, in batting, Borde and Durani for their all-round skill, and Contractor for his imaginative captaincy. For Pakistan, Hanif Mohammad, Burki and Alim-ud-Din made plenty of runs.
The umpiring was reasonable, although criticism came here and there. India took the unusual course of appointing ten different umpires to officiate in the five Tests so that almost inevitably standards differed. It was agreed by both captains that a smaller panel would be more suitable.
The English players never did accustom themselves to the different type of food, the all-too-many functions and the unusual living conditions, but in the main they were a cheerful set of players. T.N. Pearce managed the party and H. Dalton toured as physiotherapist.
Matches -- Played 22, Won 7, Lost 2, Drawn 13
All Matches -- Played 24, Won 8, Lost 2, Drawn 14
Matches -- Played 5, Lost 2, Drawn 3
Matches -- Played 3, Won 1, Drawn 2
Match reports for
Match reports for