First Test match

England v India 1936

Played at Lord's, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, June 27, 29, 30. England won by nine wickets. Memorable for the many batting failures that occurred, the first of the three Test matches arranged for the season suffered much interference from rain and yet was brought to a decision by twenty minutes to six on Tuesday. The 67 scored by Gimblett, when England were left to get 107 runs to win, was the highest individual innings of a game in which 31 wickets fell for an aggregate of 482. During the early cricket, India held their own and, in fact, gained innings lead of 13 runs. Amar Singh and Nissar both bowled admirably in England's first innings, but on Tuesday they had a heartbreaking task on a dead slow wicket and England in the end won easily.

A fine warm morning following hours of rain Allen, who captained England for the first time, took the always debatable step of putting his opponents in. As there were two left-arm slow bowlers available - Gover was left out of the twelve players originally picked - good reason existed for such a course of action, but the pitch did not become caked although it was never easy. Such an occasion, however, found Verity disappointing in length and, in dismissing India by quarter past three on Saturday, England owed most to Allen and Robins, the two Middlesex amateurs. Allen altogether accomplished a performance of much merit. He bowled with splendid steadiness and determination, got more pace out of the wicket than anyone else and gave England every opportunity to gain the upper hand by taking five wickets for sever runs apiece. As he followed that good bowling by an equally fine feat in the second innings and made his complete figures 10 wickets for 78, Allen certainly had a notable match. His leadership of the eleven also earned much commendation.

India scored 62 before losing a wicket and were out for a further 85 runs. Bowling Merchant with a full pitch, Allen in the same over had Mushtaq Ali caught off a leg glance, Langridge, at backward short leg, knocking up the ball and holding it at the second attempt. Hindlekar, after batting carefully for an hour and a half, was bowled at 64 and from this breakdown India could not recover. No partnership higher than that of 19 by Wazir Ali and Amar Singh for the fifth wicket was afterwards registered.

Well as Allen bowled, his work was outclassed by that of Amar Singh who, when England went in on an improved wicket, maintained a superb length and swung the ball either way. With a very short run, Amar Singh was able to bowl for a long spell without losing his steadiness. In his first nine overs, he took four wickets for 13 runs and half the England side were out for 41 before two left-handers - Leyland and Langridge - made a stand. They stayed together fifty minutes and added 55 runs. Even Leyland, who after going in second wicket down, stood firm for nearly two hours and was seventh out at 129, found few balls to punish but a restrained game was compelled by the good quality bowling and influenced by the struggling position of his side. At the end of an exciting day's cricket, England were 15 runs behind with three wickets to fall, but next day when, following more rain, play was held up until quarter-past two, the innings was finished off in 19 deliveries for two additional runs. Then Kumar caught Duckworth extremely well, left-handed, with his knuckles on the turf.

As artificial means were used to dry the actual wicket - a procedure adopted for the first time in a Test match in England - it was problematical how the wicket would play when India batted again. At first, the ball kicked up and rose at different heights, and although the conditions improved, an early collapse by India in which four wickets fell for 28 runs could not be retrieved. No individual feat during the match was more remarkable than the catch by which Duckworth dismissed Merchant before India made a run in the second innings. The batsman followed a ball on the leg stump and Duckworth, diving three or four yards to that side, held the ball close to the ground with both hands. Hindlekar, who had chipped a bone of the finger, batted stubbornly for an hour and a half but his colleagues could not withstand the bowling of Allen, who forced a surprising amount of pace from the soft turf and in his first eight overs took all the first four wickets for 18 runs.

India had seven men out for 80 when bad light and drizzle intervened. On Tuesday nothing could be done until after quarter-past three, but then England speedily disposed of the remaining batsmen. Third ball, Verity had the Kumarcaught; Hardstaff made a one-hand catch when running hard and dismissed C. S. Nayudu, and Palia hit a ball from Verity to extra mid-off where Leyland held the catch and so completed an incident confined to left-handers.

With India all out for 93, England needed 107 to win the match and, after all that had gone before, the task could not be regarded as an easy one. The innings opened with the quick dismissal of Mitchell, who was helpless to a ball that rose abruptly and went off his glove into the hands of backward point. Amar Singh forced the batsmen to struggle for runs and both Gimblett and Turnbull offered chances off that bowler. As Gimblett got the pace of the wicket, however, he developed sound hitting powers and hooked superbly. Nayudu made the ball turn and Turnbull wisely fell back upon a restrained game when his partner had got on top of the bowling. When Nissar was brought back, Gimblett hit four successive balls to the boundary and the match raced to a conclusion, England completing the task in an hour and forty minutes. The conditions during the last innings certainly favoured the batting side but Gimblett, who hit eleven 4's, played with much skill and nerve on his debut in Test cricket. During the three days over 40,000 people visited the ground.

© John Wisden & Co