Paul Gibb touring India with the 1953-54 commonwealth teams is playing more golf and squash than cricket. But he goes on recording the antics of the players while the second Test match gets underway. We had a brief cricket practice with Fletcher, Worrell, Loader, and Berry. The balls got sopping wet and the practice was treated in a very light-hearted fashion. Ben Barnett and Sam Loxton punched the youthful Bombay bowlers to all corners of the field. According to Sam, who was pretty fagged out after his effort (both scored centuries), they found it extremely hot out in the middle.
The wicket was beginning to give assistance to spin, and Raman said to me that had we declared at lunch we might just have obtained our first win of the tour. Only about half the side turned up for 10.30 practice and then spent an hour in a swimming bath. Someone pushed Peter Loader off the edge into the water when he was wrapped in his towel and everything.
We played golf at the Willingdon in the afternoon with Sonny Ramadhin. The Taxi took us in the evening from the CCI to the picture house for 12 annas, about a shilling — quite a reasonable cost for a mile. Sonny Ramadhin hits the ball a great distance, but the direction is not always the best. Almost took an Hour in a swimming bath after lunch. Practice at 4 p.m. and all turned up this time. Party at UK Deputy Commissioner’s a very nice house on the hill. Used to belong to Mr. Jinnah. Party ‘dry’, soft drinks only in view of Indians being present. Proceedings are very flat everybody is soon anxious to get away. This shows that ‘life’ at cocktail parties is artificially created with drink effects.
On the first day of the second Test match, at breakfast, Jim McConnon read in the newspaper that he was in the twelve. Sam Loxton was in quite a state over the fact that the groundsman had not allowed him to step over the ropes guarding the pitch so that he could get a look at it. We won the toss and batted, scoring about 286 for 4. The bowlers could not get the ball to turn an inch all day — not even Gupte.
Jasu Patel, the lad with the more or less boneless wrist, who had spun the ball so viciously on the mat at Ahmedabad, concentrated on polishing the ball and bowling a variation of in-duckers. Sunder- ram got a beautiful shortish bouncer in at Frankie Worrell, who started to hook. But the ball fairly hummed up at his head.
Bob Berry: emerged dripping wet ching the top edge of the bat and flying off to fine leg, where the catch was held. Saw Dickie Dodds at the close of the play. He wants both teams to see an MRA film. Hoped to play golf, but George Emmett felt his lumbago wasn’t up to it, and there were no left-handed clubs for Jack Crapp. I watched the morning’s cricket from the broadcasting box situated on top of the roof. Our batting proceeded steadily along to a large total, Simpson, and Barrick making hundreds. India lost four quick wickets towards the end.
Naran Tamhane, the wicketkeeper, was sent in first. I felt sorry for him. He had never opened in his life, and to do so after two days in the field must have come as a trial. He got a duck and was booed even by some of the members as he walked back. Tamhane is only young and hardly knew where to put himself. I had a hard game of squash with Raman Subba Row at 5 o’clock. He just piped me in the fifth game, and afterward said he was never going to play again in this country. I didn’t feel as bad as that. Went to the pictures, and afterward had a stroll around the block with George Duckworth.
He certainly seems to know something of the intrigues that go on. He told me how Vijay Merchant had written to certain of Lala Amarnath’s side in Australia asking them to sabotage the trip. He told me Amarnath had demanded payment of a fiver from those selected to play in the Test, touring India with the 1953-54 Commonwealth team, is playing more golf and squash than cricket — but he goes on recording the antics of the players while the second ‘Test’ gets underway matches on the same trip. He told me of how C. K. Nayudu, the idol of Holkar and perhaps all India, was as big a racketeer as any of them and demanded a good rake-off from players for fixing them up with jobs in the Lancashire League.
The third day of the Test match was one of the concentrated efforts by our pace bowlers, Worrell, Loader, and Loxton, and by 3.15 pm India was following on. Umrigar was soon caught in the slips off Marshall, who was brought into the attack in view of the fatigue of his colleagues. During the Saturday evening meeting, we were each presented with a ‘Champion’ fountain pen. The scorecards advertise the fact that we use them, and indeed the one that has got certainly is rather nice.
Jack Crapp took over the presidency from George Emmett since this will be his last Saturday meeting. In view of the skin disease affecting his hands and apparently spreading to other areas of his body, Jack is shortly leaving for home. Ken Meuleman made one rather amusing proposal when he suggested that the amateurs be fined for accepting ‘gimmes’ — referring to the pens. As usual, the majority of the fellows stayed drinking and singing well after the meeting had broken up.
By 8 o’clock the furniture was beginning to fly, and Bob Berry at least got a bucket of water full over him, for I saw him emerge dripping wet. Peter Loader who was tired after his bowling and hoping for a good night’s rest, had his bed dismantled and had to spend the night on the floor. While sitting in the sunshine by the swimming bath I was rather shaken to hear that Jim McConnon was on the field, acting as a replacement for Des Barrick, who was down with alleged tummy trouble.
I later gathered that Des had rolled in distinctly the worse for wear at about 5 a.m. so his condition was not surprising. The day was all India’s. After the early dismissal of Manjrekar, Mankad, and Vijay Hazare batted through until the close. An enormous crowd at the stadium obviously thoroughly enjoyed the day’s play. As Mankad neared his century they cheered and clapped and groaned at almost every ball, and when he eventually reached his century the applause was absolutely thunderous.
Although, India saved the game in spite of losing the wickets of Hazare and Mankad early in the morning to Loader, who was able to open with a new ball after a good night’s sleep. The only other wicket to fall was that of Ramchand. For the remainder, Gadkari compiled an excellent century and was more than ably supported by the half-lame Gopinath, operating with a runner.
As is often the case, I spent much time vaguely missing the children. There is an unsettling feeling inside of me when I wonder how the boys will settle themselves into life and the situation of their separated parents in later years. Will they suffer a sense of divided loyalties?
Golf at the Willingdon with Sonny Ramadhin, who had one of the most outrageous pieces of good fortune I have ever seen. Running a very long putt up to the hole, he hit the ball way out of line and far too hard; whereupon he cannoned off my ball at about 45 degrees into the hole. I missed my putt and lost a hole which I should comfortably have won. I had a haircut at the air-conditioned hairdressers on the corner.
These Indian lads take a lot of trouble over a haircut and do it well — all for the price of one rupee. A tea party served as a good opportunity for the local lads to indulge in an orgy of autograph-hunting. We were subjected to a thorough grilling. I was asked how I would proceed to score very rapidly against the clock of a bowler who was spinning the ball both ways! Which was the faster Lindwall and Harold Larwood?
How was it that Lindwall was able to get Marshall out on one occasion and not another? I found myself almost too dazed to give intelligent replies. On the way to Bombay Airport, we passed the various Gymkhana Club sports grounds. Even at eight in the morning, the grounds were crowded with cricketers practicing at the nets.
On the Dakota which flew us to Nagpur, we had a nice air hostess. She had a French father and an Indian mother and lived in Calcutta. She talked about the interesting people she met in her job — last year Johnny Leach and Richard Bergman, the table tennis players, and the trip before she had taken Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. Burnham to Calcutta.