- 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.
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.
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”.
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!
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.