The MCC tour of India in 1972-73 saw some keenly fought encounters, and its fair share of umpiring controversies. In the days before neutral umpires, the standard of umpiring frequently came under the scanner, and here, Cricinfo looks at two flash-points that could have snowballed into bigger issues but for the discretion of the men in charge. India went on to win the series 2-1, but the side led by Tony Lewis, a Welshman, left with a fair few admirers after having pushed the Indians all the way.
That 1972-73 series against England hung in the balance with both sides tied 1-1 as we entered the Madras Test. As the game entered the fourth evening, Mike Denness starred with a fine 76 to set us a small target of 86. I walked in after Farokh Engineer fell early to Chris Old, and slashed at an outswinger to trigger the controversy. The ball flew fast and low to first slip where Tony Greig stooped low to catch it. It had all happened in a flash and I was not sure whether it was a clean catch. Also, Greig was a guy who liked to win by any means and since I didn't see it clearly, I stood my ground, waiting for the umpire to rule me out.
Ahmad Mamsa was the umpire and he must also not have seen it properly. When he didn't signal me out, Greig created a huge fuss. He ran from first slip, all the way to where Mamsa stood, uttering four-letter words and carrying on with his bullying act. Alan Knott threw his gloves down, and a few other English players also carried on. Mamsa then walked across to square leg to consult with his colleague Nagendra. From where he stood, Nagendra must have had a clear view and he conveyed to Mamsa that the catch had been taken cleanly. Mamsa then declared me out and I walked back. We went on to win, with Salim Durrani hitting a six to take us home in style.
Donald Carr, the MCC manager, personally expressed his regret to members of the Indian board for the anger shown by Greig and others when the decision was delayed.
I made my debut in the third Test of the 1972-73 MCC tour at Kanpur. However, the incident involving Geoff Arnold and Tony Lewis occurred at Bangalore in a South Zone v MCC match in January. In those days, umpires were introduced in a tour game before they stood in Test matches. South Zone were led by S Venkatraghavan and had Nawab of Patuadi and Brijesh Patel in their ranks. Arnold was bowling and I don't know why he did it, but at one point, he used four-letter words against the Indians and the country as well.
I went to Lewis, the MCC captain, and told him that I wouldn't tolerate insults against my country, whereupon Lewis took Arnold out of the attack. At some point during the day, during a drinks break, Lewis approached me and said that English people have a habit of using foul words casually quite often. I then told him in humorous manner that when there is another organ for that particular action, why use his mouth?
Just before close of play, Lewis looked at me and I nodded. Arnold then bowled the last over of the day. I reported the matter in writing to Mr Chinnaswamy, the vice president of umpires' commission.
At Kanpur, in my first Test and the fourth match of that series, there was an lbw appeal from Tony Greig against Sunil Gavaskar. After I had negated it, Gavaskar apparently commented quietly that I was his uncle - because he was Gavaskar and I was Gothoskar. Afterwards, Tony Lewis asked me whether I am really related to Gavaskar. I asked him why, and he told me that the last names were Gavaskar and Gothoskar. Then I told him that there were so many "Kars" in that team - Wadekar, Parkar, Solkar - and was I uncle to all of them? I told him that in that case, Sid Buller, the English umpire, and Keith Miller should also be related.
In the same match, Nawab of Patuadi was beaten neck-and-crop and bowled, and the ball went to the boundary. But I had called it a no-ball and the tall Greig leant towards me (unfortunately, I don't have the photograph with me now) and exclaimed: "Oh God! Why did you call it a no ball?" I told him, "Had you told me you were about to beat him neck-and-crop, I wouldn't have called".
I umpired in the next Test at Mumbai as well. When Gundappa Vishwanath scored his century, Greig lifted him and cradled him like a baby, singing a lullaby. When Greig then scored a hundred, Gavaskar called Vishy and they both tried to lift Greig. Of course, they couldn't!
Sriram Veera is editorial assistant of Cricinfo