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When Was The First Cricket Test Match Played By India?

Not only did the Indian team rattle a very strong English side, it also made the small world of cricket sit up and take notice of their talent

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It was this impact that led to June 25, 1932, going down in India’s cricketing history as a red letter day. Wikimedia Commons
It was this impact that led to June 25, 1932, going down in India’s cricketing history as a red letter day. Wikimedia Commons
  • All-India cricket team played its first cricket test match in England
  • On the same date i.e June 25, India won the ICC cricket world cup in 1983
  • Parsis were the first in India, to show an interest in cricket

Cricket’s journey in India began after British traders and soldiers brought the sport to Indian shores during colonial rule. The first cricket test match in India is believed to have been played by British sailors at Cambay in 1721.

The first Indians to take interest in cricket were the Parsis. They established the Oriental Cricket Club in 1846 and subsequently the Parsi Cricket Club, which sent its team to play in England in 1886 – it played in 28 matches, lost 19, drew eight and won only one.

Unfamiliar with English conditions, the Parsi cricketers were not able to make much of a mark but their adaptability made an impression upon the Englishmen. The resulting appreciation led to another tour two years later.

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The first Indians to take interest in cricket were the Parsis. Wikimedia Commons
The first Indians to take interest in cricket were the Parsis. Wikimedia Commons

After two more unofficial tours in 1888 and 1911 (financed and captained by the young Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupendra Singh), and within three years of the formation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1928, the first official Indian team left for England to play its first cricket Test match.

Maharaja of Patiala was named the first caption of the Indian team. Prince Ganshyamsinhji of Limbdi was the vice-captain and the Maharaj Kumar of Vizianagram was the deputy vice-captain.

Two weeks before the team left for the tour, the Maharaja of Patiala stepped down on health grounds while the Maharaj Kumar of Vizianagram withdrew from the team citing his lack of form and fitness. The choice of captain fell upon the Maharaja of Porbandar (who, funnily enough, was undoubtedly the worst player in the team) while Jahangir Khan was drafted into the team as a replacement for Vizzy.

The All-India Cricket team played its first cricket test match in England in 1932. Wikimedia Commons
The All-India Cricket team played its first cricket test match in England in 1932. Wikimedia Commons

When the Indians arrived in England to play their first cricket test match, on April 13, 1932, London newspaper Evening Standard made the following comment on the socio-political significance of the tour:

“No politics, no caste, just cricket. This is the unofficial slogan of the cricket team that has come from India after a lapse of 21 years. There has never been such a team of contrasts meeting on the common footing of cricket. The 18 players speak eight to 10 languages among them and belong to four or five different castes.”

The Maharaja of Porbandar was relying on Limbdi before he strained his back in a minor match, afterwards he handed over the captaincy to Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu.

The superbly fit and strong Nayudu was India’s best batsman and had just smashed the first Indian century of the tour in style. The Star’s headline on May 22, 1932, summed it all up: “The Hindu Bradman in Form at Lord’s”.

Choosing Nayudu, who would go on to be Wisden Cricketer Of The Year in 1933, as the captain of the team was thus a very wise decision by the Maharaja of Porbandar. Wikimedia Commons
Choosing Nayudu, who would go on to be Wisden Cricketer Of The Year in 1933, as the captain of the team was thus a very wise decision by the Maharaja of Porbandar. Wikimedia Commons

As India’s first cricket test match unfolded, the performance of the relatively raw Indian side left the English shocked in the first half-hour itself.

After winning the toss and opting for batting first, Sutcliffe and Holmes, Yorkshire’s record-smashing opening pair (they had put on 555-run partnership just nine days ago), walked out full of cool confidence.

But some excellent bowling by Indian fast bowlers, Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh, reduced the English team to a dismal 19-3 in the first 20 minutes!

At the end of their first day in International Test cricket, the Indian team stood at 30 without loss, a respectable scoreline against the formidable English side. Wikimedia Commons
At the end of their first day in International Test cricket, the Indian team stood at 30 without loss, a respectable scoreline against the formidable English side. Wikimedia Commons

After the worst possible start, English captain Douglas Jardine and Wally Hammond began stitching together a partnership, but it was difficult with the Indians bowling with nagging accuracy and fielding with sharp agility. Hammond lost his wicket just after lunch and the English team was bowled out for 259 before tea on the first day.

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Describing the day’s play, The Birmingham Post wrote: “The All India cricket team has administered a few shocks to the dignity and confidence of England today. If there were among the 24,000 spectators at Lord’s some who imagined that the granting of a Test match by the MCC to the tourists from the Indian empire was merely an amiable concession, then they had a very rude awakening before the close of play.”

At the end of their first day in International Test cricket, the Indian team stood at 30 without loss, a respectable scoreline against the formidable English side. While the next day started well for the Indians, with their score being 110 for 1 at one point, the lack of experience (other than Nayudu and Nazir Ali, all the Indian batsmen had practised only on matting wickets) was soon exposed as the middle order collapsed. From 160 for 4, India folded to 189 all out.

However, while India eventually lost the match by 158 runs, the courage and grit shown by the team, evident in the first 30 minutes itself, clearly conveyed to the world that it wouldn’t take much time for the Indians to carve out a niche for themselves in the world of cricket.

It was this impact that led to June 25, 1932, going down in India’s cricketing history as a red letter day. Interestingly, 51 years later on the same day, the Indian cricket team (led by Kapil Dev) made history at Lord’s by winning the Prudential Cup, as if commemorating the momentous day in Indian cricket.

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BCCI’s Resemblance to Popular Western Movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

The 'Good' is the way the Indian cricket team is progressing as a world-class performer

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BCCI, Popular, Western
It has gun slingers, gun fights and the pot of gold, "the money chest of the BCCI". Pixabay

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) presently has a great resemblance to the popular western movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. It has gun slingers, gun fights and the pot of gold, “the money chest of the BCCI”.

The ‘Good’ is the way the Indian cricket team is progressing as a world-class performer. There is far more consistency in all the aspects of the game and they look like a champion side which is far better than any before. Their success has led to a commercial bonanza not only for the players but for the institution they represent, the BCCI. Cricket viewership through television and the mobile has grown by leaps and bounds, thereby, generating an interest for which the numbers were a dream a decade back. Growth such as this is never an instant formula and one has to give the BCCI and many of their stalwarts kudos in creating a sports body that has become such a huge success.

The ‘Good’ is also in the realisation that the BCCI needs to change to ensure a systematic development of cricket in India and to make the game a pleasant entertainment for the millions of cricket lovers following it. The BCCI needs a radical change to carry it through successfully in the years to come. The cricket body is now a full-fledged business corporate that requires professionalism and regulations to ensure complete transparency in their operations.

The ‘Bad’ is in the way, even with the intervention of the Supreme Court of India and their judgment three years ago to implement the proposal discussed and argued based on the Justice Lodha recommendations, the action to do so is still languishing without a clear-cut conclusion. The Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the Amicus Curiae’s appointment by the highest judiciary of the land, has unfortunately not been able to get things in order.

BCCI, Popular, Western
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) presently has a great resemblance to the popular western movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Pixabay

One does feel sorry for, as one could say in the western movie context, the Marshals and the Sheriffs appointed to eradicate and capture the bunch of gangs that controlled cricket in India and in their state associations. To do so they needed to be far more in command as the BCCI was being run by very powerful, rich and influential individuals. To topple and get some of them in-line would require much more than words and written communication. One can now finally see a stern command in the way the head of the COA Vinod Rai has called for the BCCI election, which must have been the result of years of frustration of not being able to do so even through friendship and an amicable relationship.

A firm hand was what was required as most of the people controlling cricket administration at every level, have only one distinct aim and that is one of “Kissa Kursi Ka”. The chair/throne is what gives and gave them status, fame, importance and the famous quote by Lord Acton suits them perfectly, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

The Bad need to be eradicated by the Good and prevent it from the ‘Ugly’ which is at present synonymous with how the BCCI is perceived. Each and every day, there seems to be some negative and controversial news of individuals and state associations opposing the COA and BCCI, with statements and court cases. The sharp shooters in this case are the legal luminaries who are raking in a fortune to keep the gang war sufficiently ignited. The BCCI is losing crores of money battling legal cases, money that could be spent for the betterment of the game of cricket.

The quicker the BCCI apex body is put into effect, the better it will be for cricket and the development of it at every centre. Presently, at most associations, ad-hoc appointments and committees are being formed by the king makers of yore.

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The BCCI elections to be held on the October 22, will most likely not have some of the important big cricket centres of India partaking in it. The reason being that is they are still to complete registering their constitutions and some are also abstaining from doing so.

The CoA has made it amply clear that those state associations will not be invited to either participate or be funded by the BCCI in the future. Most of the state association leaders and gang members have been rooted firmly on their chairs or through some form of a committee for well over the 9+9 stipulated period. This makes them ineligible for a position either in the BCCI or in their respective associations. They have, however, still got clout to put their proxies in place. The gun fight will, therefore, be between the Good and the Bad. One hopes it does not turn out to be Ugly! (IANS)