The Tied Test in MadrasArchie Mac |
Author: Cardwell, Ronald
Publisher: The Cricket Publishing Company
Rating: 3.5 stars
This is the story of the second, and to date the latest, tied Test which took place in Madras (now Chennai) in 1986. The sub title of the book is Controversy, Courage and Crommo. The Crommo is Alan Crompton, the Australian manager on the tour and also, for a period, chairman of the Australian Cricket Board.
It’s hard enough to tour, and win in India, but even harder when your team is inexperienced and undermanned. We learn that Australia had lost some players due to the Rebel Tour of South Africa, and captain Allan Border was reluctant in the hegemony role.
It was Border’s perceived lack of ability in handling the off field responsibilities that saw former Australian captain Bob Simpson appointed as coach of the team. At this distance it seems inadequate to only have a coach, manager, physiotherapist, transport organiser and a baggage master, for a full tour of India. However there seems to have been no issues and everything ran smoothly. Well as smoothly as it can on an Indian tour.
The Aussie team, although inexperienced, featured some players who become household names. Steve Waugh, David Boon and Craig McDermott all had fine careers for their country. The players appear to have got on famously and there were no noticeable off field controversies. The lack of negative reports may also be attributed to the manager’s decision to include the travelling press corps in many of the team events, which contributed to good relations between the fourth estate and the players.
The main event happens very early in the tour with the Tied Test being the first of the three Tests. Cardwell builds up the excitement and the hazards faced by the Australian team. Oppressive heat appears to be the number one hardship faced by the Aussies, but food concerns, poor crowd control and illness also place added pressure on the team.
The first truly memorable moment belongs to Australian batsmen Dean Jones who scores one of the great double hundreds in the opening innings. So affected by the heat was Jones that he was stripped and placed under a shower during each break. Eventually, after he is dismissed, Jones is taken to hospital and placed on a drip. Next is a great attacking innings by one of the all time finest all rounders, Kapil Dev, who hit 119 off 138 balls to bring India roaring back into the game. In the end these two combatants share the player of the match award.
Border, after consultation with Simpson, makes the decision to declare the Australian second innings and give India all of the last day to score the runs to win the Test. In the end Greg Matthews gained an LBW decision to tie the match. Matthews who was a different type, bowled in the enervating heat wearing a sweater. Some say the greatest miracle was the fact Matthews gained an LBW decision in India. This was before neutral umpires. The Indian players were convinced that the decision was wrong.
Cardwell does not dwell too much on the other two drawn Tests, or the ODI series which India won. Instead he moves on to what happens to the Australian tourists after the series, and Crompton’s story.
The author mainly sticks to Crompton’s cricket career, which primarily involved many years with the Sydney University team and a stellar period as a loquacious cricket administrator. Cardwell keeps his story moving along, which makes for an enjoyable read and concentrates on the cricket above all else.
As with all the books from this publisher the production values are top notch*; quality printing on good stock, copious photos, plus full index and sources of information. Much to my annoyance I failed to find a single typo. This book is a great record of a watershed moment in Australian cricket, and a fine tribute to a quality cricket administrator in Alan Crompton.
*The Tied Test in Madras is available now, but for those who like that sort of thing and are prepared to wait a little while longer there is a leather bound multi signed limited edition on its way.