'You could score a hundred if you keep your head down'

Touring India, assuredly, is much more than Phil Tufnell's poverty and elephants

Bruce Taylor
Touring India, assuredly, is much more than Phil Tufnell's poverty and elephants. Newcomers must adjust not only to a country of vast contrasts and stunning diversity but also to pitches and match atmospheres unlike any other in the world. In the second of the My India Tour series, Bruce Taylor, the New Zealand allrounder, talks about his Test debut at Calcutta on the 1964-65 tour of India , when he hit a century and took a five-for - the only time this has been achieved by a debutant.
I had no time to get nervous about my debut because I only came into the side when Barry Sinclair fell ill and was unable to play. The first thing I remember about the game is John Reid hitting four sixes before lunch - the ground was chocka [full] with 30,000 to 40,000 people. I was pretty nervous before going out to bat but as I went I out I remember Polly Umrigar, then the manager of Indian side, wishing me good luck.
I was 10 or 12 overnight, then the next morning Sutty [Bert Sutcliffe] and I played a few shots. After a while Sutty came down the wicket to me and said: 'Listen, son - you could score 100 here if you keep your head down.'
Then I hit the next ball for six and Bert just shook his head. The bowling wasn't as strong as it is nowadays and there was not as much pressure on me as you might expect now. I had a few swings and misses. But I became conscious of how close I was to a century as we were in the last over before lunch. I managed to score it before the break.
We had a couple of hours bowling at them before stumps that day and I picked up a couple. We thought the wicket would take a bit of spin but we got most of our wickets through our medium pacers.
I was particularly pleased with getting Bapu Nadkarni's wicket. He scored 75 against us in the first Test and I came around the wicket to him and got him first ball. The next morning I got the Indian captain, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.
He had batted fairly well, with a fair bit of luck. He got to 153 but had been dropped a few times. He got a big top edge to one of mine and I remember going for the ball as it came down near the point area. I thought, 'If no one else can catch them I might as well try.'
I actually collided with our wicketkeeper John Ward who had run across to take the catch. Fortunately, he held it.
I don't think what I did in that match sunk in until years later. It wasn't as if we could go out and celebrate with a few drinks being in India.
Bruce Taylor spoke to Lynn McConnell.
Other My India Tours
'The dinner service was all gold' - John Reid's tour in 1955-56.
Much more than cricket - Glenn Turner's tour in 1969-70.
'It was like a sauna' - Richard Hadlee's tour in 1976-77.