Tour and tournament reports

India in England, 1967

Never has a touring team endured such misfortune as befell The Nawab of Pataudi's combination who came for the first half of a dual Test season.

Norman Preston
Never has a touring team endured such misfortune as befell The Nawab of Pataudi's combination who came for the first half of a dual Test season.
Owing to the atrocious weather which prevailed in May they spent most of their time in various pavilions watching the rain and when they were able to play the wet pitches and miserable conditions provided little opportunity for them to produce their true form.
Injuries, too, hit the side severely. Of the two main opening bowlers, Guha was fit for only one Test and Mohol never faced England, while the third new ball bowler, the left-handed Surti, was also absent from the third Test when Kunderan a wicket-keeper, and Subramanya began the attack in England's first innings and Pataudi in the second.
The batting too was badly weakened through the mishaps of Sardesai who after two periods of inactivity with leg trouble had a finger broken during the first Test at Lord's. He went home and took no further part in the tour.
The reports of the matches during the first month of the season tell their own pitiful tale and although the last six or seven weeks found the sun shining, the Tests were upon the Indians before they had properly settled down. Yet they had their moments of glory, notably in the fist encounter with England at Headingley, when under the spirited example of their talented captain they fought a memorable rearguard action and even totalled 510 in the follow-on.
The Indian Board of Control entertained high hopes of the young but inexperienced team they decided to send abroad. They had not only the tour of England in mind but also the one to Australia that soon followed.
Eleven of the sixteen players had given a very good account of themselves while drawing the third Test with the West Indies in the previous January in Madras, but left at home when they arrived in England were Abbas Baig, M.L. Jaisimha and R.G. Nadkarni.
Only Pataudi and Borde had previously played first-class cricket in England, but while the captain led his men admirably and played many fine innings, including 64 and 148 in the Headingley Test, Borde failed completely in the three Test matches, scoring only 60 runs in his six innings as against 724 runs in his other 18 firs-class innings.
On their day these Indian cricketers gave some attractive performances individually and one felt that given a decent chance in May they would have been most entertaining, but at no time did their bowling, as a whole, look equal to the hard work demanded on a six-day week basis in England. As the Nawab of Pataudi frequently pointed out, there has been no incentive for anyone to bowl fast in India over the past twenty years and until the lifeless pitches are changed the desired improvement in the standard of fast bowling will not materialise.
The lack of venom was the main weakness and consequently India could show only two victories, against Cambridge University and Derbyshire, from their eighteen first-class engagements. They lost all three Tests to England and their colours were also lowered by Yorkshire, Kent, Leicestershire and Surrey, the first four in the 1967 Country Championship.
While Pataudi stood out by himself among the batsmen, the number one wicket-keeper, Engineer, often gave the side a fine start with his enterprising stroke play. Hanumant Singh, at times, looked exceedingly capable and a player with a great future before him by reason of his sound methods -- like Sardesai.
More also should be heard of Wadekar, a stylish and consistent left-hander who, despite never reaching three figures, scored 835 runs, average 37.95.
Kunderan was not only a satisfactory second wicket-keeper but seemed to fit in anywhere in the batting order and with Sardesai took part in the best opening stand, 210 against Cambridge University at Fenner's.
The need for genuine spin bowling in their own country was emphasised by the fine work of Chandrasekhar, who excelled with pacey right-handed googlies, Prasanna, off-spin and Bedi, the Sikh, a natural left-arm slow bowler, who did turn the ball and provided a colourful picture with his blue and sometimes maroon turban.
Poor catching often let down the side despite the shrewd field setting of The Nawab, who, by reason of his association with Oxford University and Sussex, generally knew any frailties of the opposition. When the sun shone and things were going well for them the standard of fielding rose to considerable heights and one hopes that when India come next time to England the weather will be much kinder to them, especially in May.