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Whereas Vizianagram insisted on playing

  • 03 Jul
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    .C. United of Major League Soccer. United chose the
    defender in the second round of the 2013 MLS re-entry draft. Indias Test debut,
    at Lords on June 25, 1932, started in dramatic fashion when they reduced a
    strong England side to 19 for 3 inside the first hour. There was to be no
    fairytale ending. Douglas Jardine, who by the end of the year had become a
    figure of hatred in Australia, twice bailed England out and India, hit by
    injuries as well, lost by 158 runs. Jardine, however, might have played a
    completely different role in the match.The politics of India at the time meant
    that the captain of the All-India side had to be from nobility, much as the
    England captain had to be an amateur. This narrowed the field considerably as
    while there were eligible candidates, none of them were good enough as players.
    But the game needed the money and patronage the nobility brought with them.In
    1929 India were admitted to the ICC and Anthony de Mello, the secretary of the
    Indian board, suggested that perhaps an Englishman could captain India, mainly
    to act as a neutral who might be able to bridge and handle ethnic and religious
    divides. The man suggested was Jardine, Bombay born, from a family with strong
    links to the country, and reportedly on the verge of going to settle back there.
    The idea never came to anything, and Jardine ended up leading England against
    them at Lords. Other candidates included KS Duleepsinhji, despite his education
    at Cheltenham and Cambridge, but it is widely believed that Plum Warner talked
    him out of any such thoughts and persuaded him to play for England.New Zealand
    had made their Test debut in 1926 and West Indies in 1928, so India was sure to
    follow. It should have happened in 1930-31 but a tour by MCC was cancelled
    because of a civil disobedience campaign, and another attempt the following
    season was scrapped when threats to boycott all matches in Bombay were made.And
    so it was that India were scheduled to tour England in 1932, but even then it
    was far from straightforward. Although arrangements began to be made in the
    first half of 1931, as late as August there were doubts as some provinces
    objected and threatened to boycott the trip.On February 4, it was announced that
    the Maharajah of Patiala, a massively rich and generous benefactor and keen
    player, would lead the side. A driving force in Indian cricket, he was a natural
    choice. Kumar Shri Ghanshyamshinhji was named vice-captain and the deputy
    vice-captain was the Maharajah of Vizianagram, equally rich and keen but no
    cricketer, and a bitter rival of Patiala. Vizianagram had been expected, or more
    likely had expected, to lead the side but was usurped when Patiala stepped in.It
    was expected that the Nawab of Pataudi would be included but the release
    announcing the team said he had not been considered as he informed the Board of
    Control he could not participate in the tour. This bland comment disguised anger
    that he had turned his back on India at the 11th hour. Even the reserved Times
    editorial said his decision had caused soreness as he had definitely promised to
    play ...he took part in all of the trials and accepted the captaincy of one of
    the sides in the last match.There wwas some speculation whether foreigners -
    primarily Englishmen - living in India would be eligible, but it was decided not
    to go down this route.dddddddddddd It is, said The Times, a thing for young
    India. Some were certainly good enough. Reggie Hudson, described by Wisden as
    the best services batsman of the inter-war years, was scoring so many hundreds
    that one fellow officer said he was becoming a nuisance. He was in England
    anyway in 1932 and in a first-class match at The Oval in August scored 217 in
    225 minutes for the Army against the RAF, the second hundred coming in 70
    minutes.Patialas selection caused raised eyebrows in The Times. It noted he had
    played little cricket in the preceding two years and had preoccupied himself
    with leading a group of princes who regarded democracy and the likelihood of a
    new constitution with a nervous eye.The side left Bombay - huge crowds turned
    out to see them off - on April 4 but by then Patiala and Vizianagram had
    withdrawn. Vizianagram was the first to pull out, ostensibly through illness but
    more likely he was put out at not only being overlooked as captain but even as
    vice-captain. His move was unwise, as soon afterwards Patiala himself withdrew,
    again because of ill health. The Maharajah of Porbandar stepped into the void,
    but Vizianagrams behaviour as captain of the 1936 tour indicated that India had
    a lucky escape.Whereas Vizianagram insisted on playing all the Tests in 1936, to
    the teams detriment, Porbandar knew his considerable limitations and only
    occasionally took to the field. To him, it was inconceivable that he would
    captain them at Lords, and so on the eve of the Lords Test he told his side that
    CK Nayudu would captain them.Porbandar was woken in the night by several players
    who told him they would not play under Nayudu. His vice-captain,
    Ghanshyamshinhji, was not with the tour party at the time, and so Porbandar sent
    a cable to Patiala in India. The no-nonsense response came back. They were to
    play.So several of the Indians were hardly in the best state of mind as they
    took to the field the next morning. Not that Englands openers were in any better
    state of mind. Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes, who ten days earlier had set
    a world record in an opening stand of 555 at Leyton, only arrived in London in
    the early hours as Yorkshires match against Sussex at Leeds had only ended at
    6pm the night before.Within ten minutes both were back in the pavilion and India
    were finally underway.Fifty-one years later, to the day, Lords was the scene of
    possibly Indian crickets greatest day when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup.Is
    there an incident from the past you would like to know more about? E-mail us
    with your comments and suggestions.BibliographyA History of Indian Cricket Mihir
    Bose (Andre Deutsch, 2002)Douglas Jardine: Spartan Cricketer Christopher Douglas
    (Methuen, 2002)The Cricketer Wisden Cricketers Almanack Martin Williamson is
    executive editor of Cricinfo
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