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S. J. Southerton
Although they suffered defeat in their one representative match against the full strength of England, the team of Indian cricketers, who toured this country last summer under the captaincy of the Maharajah of Porbandar, acquitted themselves on the whole, if not with marked distinction, at any rate with great credit. There had been previous visits of Indian teams to England, notably that of the Parsees and later on in 1911 of the combination led by the Maharajah of Patiala, but in point of all-round skill and ability neither of these compared with that of 1932. For many years past the standard of cricket in India had been steadily improving, and it was quite obvious from the form shown by the players met during the M. C. C. tour under A. E. R. Gilligan in the winter of 1926-27 that the time would not be far distant when India should be able to send a team here capable of extending all but the most powerful elevens.
It can be said at once that those who came last season exceeded anticipations. Some little difficulty was experienced with regard to the captaincy, and after one or two disappointments the choice fell upon the Maharajah of Porbandar who had with him as vice-captain K. S. Ganshyamsinhji of Limbdi. For reasons apart from cricket the necessity existed of having a person of distinction and importance in India at the head of affairs, and it was almost entirely because of this that Porbandar led the team. No injustice is being done to him, therefore, by saying that admirably fitted as he was in many respects for the task, his abilities as a cricketer were not commensurate with the position he occupied. Only those, however, with intimate knowledge of the many little difficulties arising in the command of a body of men of mixed creeds, habits and thoughts, can appreciate the tact and firmness required in maintaining that comradeship and united endeavour so essential to the success of a team on the field and the harmonious collaboration of its various units in other respects. Except for his limitations as a cricketer, the Maharajah of Porbandar enjoyed in full measure the attributes necessary to his position, and he certainly created in the team an excellent spirit. Wherever they went the tourists made friends, not only by the fine regard they had for the traditions of the game, but by their modest and correct demeanour at all times.
Fortunately for the side they possessed in C. K. Nayudu - easily their best batsman - a man of high character and directness of purpose who, in the absence of the two above him, was able to take over the duties of captaincy with skill and no small measure of success. He led the team in the Test Match at Lord's and, although on the losing side, earned commendation for the manner in which he managed his bowling and placed his field.
Before going any further, it is only proper to observe that the programme arranged for the tourists was altogether too heavy and, as the Maharajah pointed out in most of his speeches, his team found cricket day after day rather too heavy a tax on their physical resources. None of them was accustomed to day-by-day cricket in India, and it is no secret that some time before the end of the tour they were nearly all very tired. The result of this non-stop play, as they themselves called it, was seen in the numerous strains and injuries to legs which several of the men suffered. In the Test match, for instance, both Nazir Ali and Palia broke down while fielding and later on Amar Singh and Lall Singh were to a lesser degree incapacitated. All this, naturally, had an adverse effect on their play towards the latter half of the tour.
Still, they had no reason to be dissatisfied with their record, for of twenty-six first-class engagements in which they took part nine were won, eight lost and nine drawn. Outside these, they played twelve other games, and in all matches they won thirteen, lost nine, and drew fourteen while two were abandoned without a ball being bowled. As they opened their tour at the end of April and did not finish until the ninth of September, they came through a very trying season extremely well.
In one important particular they were fortunate, the weather after being cold and cheerless for the first month turning bright and fine and at certain periods almost as hot as in their own country. Mostly, therefore, they had hard wickets on which to bat but, all the same, the conditions generally were not quite like those under which they play in India. To two of the team this made little difference, Nayudu and Nazir Ali having had considerable experience of cricket in this country. Had it been possible for Duleepsinhji and the Nawab of Pataudi to assist, the side must have been very strong indeed, for these two cricketers would have given that stability to the batting which on several occasions was noticeably absent.
Their batsmen, for the most part, managed very well against our fast bowling and ordinary spin bowlers, but on their own confession they found considerable difficulty in dealing with googly bowling, and with Freeman of Kent in particular. There are practically no googly bowlers in India and this type of attack frankly puzzled them, for they could not be sure of spotting the wrong un, as it is colloquially called.
The four batsmen who headed the averages - Nayudu, Wazir Ali, Nazir Ali and Jeoomal - were in their different styles extremely good, although nearly everyone on the side was afflicted with a slight spirit of impatience which often led to him getting out when a little watchfulness and care might have enabled him to stay and build up a good score. Nayudu himself was a fine batsman. Of a good height and reach, he used his powerful and pliant wrists to excellent purpose, and in front of the wicket he hit very hard indeed. Curiously enough, however, he often seemed late in making up his mind as to his stroke. Still, he could drive on either side of the wicket with tremendous power, he cut well and was especially good in stepping back and forcing the ball to the on--with, it is true, a horizontal bat. Very properly, as his performances entitled him to do, he headed the batting figures, scoring 1,618 runs with an average of over 40 in first-class matches and having an aggregate of 1,842 runs in all matches with a slightly lower average. In the course of the summer he played six innings of over a hundred, enjoying the distinction of making 118 not out on the occasion of his first appearance at Lord's, against the M. C. C.
Wazir Ali was only slightly less effective. He also made six hundreds, but three of these were obtained in the less-important fixtures. In his style and method he was quite different from Nayudu, being, like Jeoomal, of the watchful type. He could, however, hit well on occasion and he had such a fine variety of strokes at command that it was a near thing as to whether in all conditions he was not as good as Nayudu. Towards the end of May when playing against the M. C. C. at Lord's he received a severe blow on the head from a short-pitched ball by Bowes, and although he made several good scores afterwards, this injury seemed to affect his confidence.
His brother, Nazir Ali, was a bright, entertaining batsman, and like most of the members of the side a fine driver. Driving, indeed, was the strong point of the batting of nearly all the team. In this respect Colah and Amar Singh were often seen to considerable advantage. Amar Singh might be written down as the most dangerous all-rounder of the eleven. In the second innings of the Test match at Lord's he gave a wonderful display of hitting and in the last match of the tour at Scarborough his driving was tremendous. Marshall did not play much in the first-class matches, but he showed himself possessed of a nice style and made two hundreds in the course of the tour. The most picturesque personality who appeared with some degree of regularity was Lall Singh. He and Joginder Singh, being Sikhs, were the only two members of the side to wear the turban instead of the conventional cricket cap. Lall Singh thoroughly enjoyed his cricket. It would be idle to pretend that he had a particularly strong defence, but he always went for the bowling and generally speaking, was an entertaining cricketer. He excelled as a fieldsman, his sense of anticipation being highly developed.
Mention of fielding immediately brings to mind the fact that in this respect the team as a whole attained to a high standard. No hit was too hard for them to attempt to stop, while the throwing-in was a model of power and accuracy. Colah and Jeoomal stood out by themselves in the manner in which they returned the ball to the wicket-keeper. No English cricketer, with the exception, possibly, of Voce, threw in so beautifully as Colah. In Navle, the team had a first-rate wicket-keeper, very quick in all that he did.
The bowling of the side was, all things considered, capital. Mahomed Nissar, tall and very big for an Indian, was the fast bowler of the team. He had a nice, easy action and before the shine had gone off the ball, he made it swing and at times break back alarmingly. In point of actual skill, however, Amar Singh was probably the best bowler of the side. Exception might be taken to his run, which was far from smooth in its rhythm, but he was able to do such a lot with the ball that he not only looked, but actually proved to be, very difficult to play. He could make the ball swerve either way and at times cause it to dip, while his pace off the pitch was often phenomenal. Better bowling than his in the second innings of the Test match has not been seen for a long time and more than one famous old cricketer said afterwards that Amar Singh was the best bowler seen in England since the war. When one calls to mind the doings of MacDonald, the Australian, however, it is a little difficult completely to concur with the opinions expressed regarding Amar Singh. Still Nissar and Amar Singh were the mainstays of the bowling. In first-class matches, the former took seventy-one wickets at a cost of just over 18 runs apiece, while Amar Singh obtained 111 for just under 21 runs each. Next in point of effectivenesss was Nayudu, who bowled slow-medium pace with a good control of length and break, while Jahangir Khan did consistently good work. He bowled rather faster than Nayudu, with a very effective flip at the moment of deliver which made the ball come off the ground at a good pace. The only left-handed slow bowler of the side was Palia but he did not meet with any pronounced success, while the other left-hander, Ghulam Mahomed, took only three wickets in first-class matches. The latter came with something of a reputation earned by his effectiveness in India on matting wickets.
The tour proved of immense value to the Indians themselves who, about the middle of the summer, were fifty per cent better than when they arrived, and the lessons they learned will no doubt be passed on to the Indian cricketers of the future. The manager of the team was Major E. W. C. Ricketts, who, from his knowledge of the language gained while he was serving in the Indian army and his courtesy on all occasions, proved an ideal man for a somewhat difficult position.
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