India cannot have happy memories of their tour in Australia during 1947-48. Of the fourteen first-class matches played, only two brought victories compared with seven defeats. In the Test Matches they were outclassed: four were lost; in three Australia batted only once; and such was the superiority of the Australians that except in one instance the result looked a foregone conclusion before the end of the first day.
Needing all possible good fortune, India actually experienced the reverse, for bad luck dogged them throughout the Test series. In four of the five games Bradman won the toss and twice weather conditions made the pitch treacherous when India batted. On the only occasion when Amarnath called correctly India led by 81 on the first innings, but they were unable to force home the advantage because of rain, which reduced cricket to less than ten hours in six days and the match was left drawn.
Outside Tests, India showed their best form against a powerful Australian XI at Sydney, winning by 47 runs, and they also defeated Tasmania in an innings. Two of the defeats were suffered by narrow margins, Queensland winning by 24 runs at Brisbane and in the final match of the tour Western Australia gained a thrilling victory by six runs.
The inability of Merchant and Modi, two of the most reliable batsmen on all types of pitches, to make the trip undoubtedly proved an immense handicap. The team was unbalanced, with practically everything depending on the captain, Amarnath, Mankad and Hazare. Phadkar, particularly in the Tests, Adhikari, Kishenchand, Sarwate, Rangachari and Sen, the wicket-keeper, were all useful members of the side, but there were too many failures, several of the party doing practically nothing with either bat or ball.
Up to a point the big success of the team was Amarnath, but unfortunately he failed to maintain his brilliant batting form in the Test Matches, scoring no more than 140 runs in ten innings. In other first-class games he revealed great skill. Successive innings early in the tour brought him 144, 94 not out and 228 not out, and subsequently he hit 172 not out, 171 and 135. Such was the unreliability of the team that he dared not leave himself out and took part in every first-class game. The other mainstays, Hazare and Mankad, each missed only one match. Scoring 1,162 runs, Amarnath easily headed the first-class averages, and, with 30 wickets, came second in bowling. In the Tests, although he failed with the bat, he was the most successful bowler.
As captain, Amarnath faced an unenviable task trying to give games to as many of his players as possible, yet having to maintain a strong eleven. He received some criticism for the frequency with which he changed his batting order and his reluctance to use spin bowlers, but all told he managed the team well, and by personal example tried hard to inspire his men to greater deeds.
Mankad confirmed the high opinions formed of him in England and proved that he ranked among the greatest all-rounders in present-day cricket. As a bowler he stood far above anyone else, and his cleverly flighted slow left-arm deliveries brought him more than twice as many wickets as claimed by Amarnath, next in the averages. His best achievement was eight wickets for 84, which helped considerably in the victory over the Australian XI. In addition he often did well as opening batsman, hitting hundreds in the Third and Fifth Tests and another against South Australia.
The greatest individual performance of the tour fell to Hazare, who, at Adelaide, hit a hundred in each innings of the Fourth Test Match. He and Amarnath were the only men to score over 1,000 runs in first-class matches. Hazare finished second in the batting averages, both in Tests and other important matches, and also did useful work with medium-paced bowling.
Phadkar, the fastest bowler in the side, developed into a first-class batsman, and his form in this department came as a welcome surprise. He did not find a place in the First Test, but did so well in the remaining four that he headed the Test averages and hit a capital 123 in the fourth game at Adelaide.
India were not at their best in the field, several catches being dropped, but the party impressed everyone by their keenness and they were immensely popular throughout the country. Mr. P. Gupta, in charge of the tour of England, again managed the side capably.
Match reports for
Western Australia v Indians at Perth, Oct 17-21, 1947
Tour Match: South Australia v Indians at Adelaide, Oct 24-28, 1947
Tour Match: Victoria v Indians at Melbourne, Oct 30-Nov 3, 1947
Tour Match: New South Wales v Indians at Sydney, Nov 7-11, 1947
Australian XI v Indians at Sydney, Nov 14-18, 1947
Tour Match: Queensland v Indians at Brisbane, Nov 21-25, 1947
Tour Match: Tasmania v Indians at Hobart, Jan 10-13, 1948
Tour Match: Tasmania v Indians at Launceston, Jan 15-17, 1948
Tour Match: Western Australia v Indians at Perth, Feb 20-24, 1948