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England v India In Print

India toured England for the first Time as a Test playing country in 1932. There is one book on the tour, which had but a single Test, All-India Cricketers’ Tour 1932 being published in Madras by “Three Stumps”. That is all I can report as I have never seen a copy. Thanks to Gulu Ezekiel we did at one point have a copy in our sights but, sadly, it turned out to be incomplete and our interest cooled. It is a series that much interests Gulu, so any publisher who finds the idea attractive might well meet with a favourable response if they put a proposal to him.

England’s visit to India in 1933/34 under the captaincy of Douglas Jardine went almost unnoticed at the time, but Brian Heald published Jardine’s Last Tour in 2010. To be fair it is not a particularly exciting book, but is nonetheless a valuable record of a trip that, perhaps, looks rather more interesting with hindsight than it did at the time.

According to Padwick’s Bibliography of Cricket PH Seervai contributed Cricket Comments to the literature of the game on the subject of the Indians’1936 visit to England. That one is a book I do have a copy of, and a very odd little thing it is too. Taken up in some ways with the events of the tour, the book is nothing like a traditional tour account.

India were England’s first visitors after the war when, in 1946, former England player the Nawab of Pataudi Senior led what was still ‘All India’ in a three Test series. Indian Summer was the first of many tour books from the pen of John Arlott and whilst not common copies do turn up from time to time. Rather trickier to find is LN Mathur’s The Fight for the Rubber, a book that was published in India.

In 1951/52 England visited India, Lancashire skipper Nigel Howard leading what was very much a second string side. The series was drawn 1-1 and the only two books of the tour were published in India, one by Mathur and the other by NS Phadke. Both are tricky to find, and expensive for the relatively slim paperbacks that they are.

The Indian delight at winning their first Test against England  did not last long as the party who made the return trip in 1952 were blown away by Fred Trueman. Again English publishers showed no interest and only Raju Bharatan, with Rivals in the Sun, published a book in India. The book doesn’t look much, but is a decent account and, for some reason, seems rather easier and less expensive to track down than the two accounts of the previous tour.

The 1959 Indians had a chastening experience as they became and are likely to remain the only touring side to suffer a 5-0 reverse in England. The writers stayed well away, other than Arlott who featured the series in his Cricket Journal 2.

England visited India in 1961/62 and lost 2-0. There would never have been any expectation of an English book, but it is a surprise no Indian publisher felt it worthwhile to publish an account of the tour. Two winters later it was off  to India again for England. This time all five Tests were drawn, but there was a book, or at least half of one, Rusi Modi’s Cricket Forever, and a very good book it is too.

In 1967 England entertained and beat India again with some ease, but the Indians next visit was very different. Led by Ray Illingworth and fresh from winning back the Ashes in Australia for the first time since the ‘Bodyline’ tour of 1932/33 England would not have expected the 1971 Indians to extend them. In the event Ajit Wadekar’s side, with a little help from the weather, avoided defeat in the first two Tests before Chandra’s match winning spell at the Oval brought a famous series victory. There were no UK published books but in India Sunder Rajan celebrated his country’s win with the unimaginatively titled India v England 1971.

There was no Illingworth in India in 1972/73, nor John Snow, Geoffrey Boycott or John Edrich. The Indians won again, and Rajan published another small paperback, The Hat Trick, a title referencing also the famous Indian victory in the Caribbean that had preceded the 1971 trip to England.

After losing somewhat ignominiously to Clive Lloyd’s West Indies in 1976 Tony Greig took his England team to India and a solid performance saw him return with a 3-0 victory to his credit. Following the tour was Christopher Martin-Jenkins, and his MCC in India 1976/77 was published after the side’s return. For anyone wanting a more Indian centred account New Delhi based ‘Dicky’ Rutnager wrote Test Commentary; A Diary of India vs England 1976/77.

India visited England in 1982 with Pakistan. Both of the subcontinental sides were beaten and there was a book to celebrate with. The previous summer Alan Ross had added his peerless prose to a selection of Patrick Eagar’s photographs of ‘Botham’s Ashes’ and the result had been a great success. Summer of the All-Rounder was the title of the 1982 effort.

To show just how strong the mid 1980s West Indians were David Gower’s men went off to India after their 5-0 humiliation at home in 1984 and won. There was a solitary account of the trip from England’s off spinning all-rounder Vic Marks; Marks out of XI.

The second blackwash, in 1985/86, did not have the same galvanising when India came to England in 1986 however. That summer was a grim one for the home side as they lost series to both India and New Zealand. By definition a far from memorable season for England there is a record for posterity in another Eagar/Ross effort; Summer of Suspense.

In 1990 Boundary Books published Gooch’s Golden Summer, a very nice limited edition written by Bill Frindall and including reproductions of his scoresheets from the Tests against India, including that containing the England skipper’s 333. A rather less ambitious project was Joy of a Lifetime, Harsha Bhogle’s account of the same series.

After losing at home to Pakistan in 1992 England then travelled to India for three Tests, and lost all three, as well one in Sri Lanka. Unsurprisingly a couple of Indian writers went into print. Chandra Senan wittily called his book Spin Washed and Kumble Dried. Syed Parvez Qaiser was more predictable, his title being England Tour of India 1992/93.

Nearly thirty years on we are, surprisingly, yet to see any further tour books devoted solely to matches between England and India although, inevitably, the many Tests that have been played are widely covered in biographies, autobiographies and books of a more general nature, particularly Wisden which, since 2013, has had an Indian incarnation as well.

And finally, having mentioned a similar volume at the end of Part 2 of my post on South African tours I will mention Samuel Canynge Caple’s England v India 1886-1959, which covers all the Tests played by the two countries up to and including the 1952 series, and a similar book published in India by SK Roy following the 1946 tour of England, India – England Cricket Visits, 1911- 1946.


A fair chunk of Graeme Fowler’s “Fox on the Run” is also about the 1984-5 tour of India.

Comment by AndrewB | 2:49pm BST 23 June 2019

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