The two teams have met in 122 Tests across 33 series. Here are some relatively obscure facts from India-England matches.
Ladha Ramji, the fastest Indian bowler of the era, hit several English batsmen in a tour match in the 1926/27 England’s tour of India. England captain Arthur Gilligan requested the Maharawal of Dungarpur, the captain of the home side, to take Ramji off the attack. The Maharawal obliged.
A Larwood blow
India were playing Nottinghamshire in a tour match in 1932. A teammate bet Harold Larwood a packet of cigarettes if he could knock the turban off Joginder Singh’s head. Larwood did it in a few minutes, and then continued to bounce. Joginder finally left after being hit on the face.
After his famous hundred on debut, Lala Amarnath was travelling from Bombay to Calcutta for the second Test match with the team. The cricketers were supposed to get off at Howrah Station, adjacent to Calcutta. When the train arrived and the coolies started to take his luggage away, Amarnath, still in his nightwear, tried to explain that he wanted to go to Calcutta Station (and not Howrah)!
CK foils Vizzy’s plan
Vizzy fulfilled his ambition of being knighted during the 1936 tour. While the ceremony was going on, in a tour game Lancashire were chasing 199 at Liverpool against Indians. Vizzy cabled Mohammed Nissar to bowl only full-tosses to ensure India did not win under CK Nayudu. Nayudu realised that and took Nissar off. Nayudu bowling in tandem with Jahangir Khan, bowled out Lancashire for 114. It was one of only two matches India won on that tour.
The Second World War had made air travel more common. Thus, when Australia toured to New Zealand for a solitary Test match in 1945-46, they covered the short distance by air. The next summer, India became the first squad to fly across continents to play a Test match. However, they flew out in batches.
Compton scores a goal
In the tour of 1945-46, Vijay Merchant made a sublime 128 at The Oval. Then he pushed one to Denis Compton at mid-on and set off, confident that Compton would not have time to pick up and throw. But Merchant had probably forgotten that Compton was a left-winger for Arsenal. He kicked the ball to run out Merchant.
Death of a monarch
King George VI passed away during Day 1 of the Madras Test of 1951/52. The rest day was rescheduled to the next day. The cricketers took field in black armbands the day after. It was also the first time India won a Test match.
Call of disbelief
Fred Trueman was at the RAF base when they called him to inform that he had been picked for the 1952 series. Trueman thought it was a prank and asked the caller to “bugger off”. When he was finally convinced (Bill Bowes called him), he applied for leave, which got sanctioned only after he promised match tickets to the commanding officer.
No cap for Blofeld
With six unfit men, England had been virtually reduced to a hospital ahead of the Bombay Test of 1964/65. A casual suggestion was made to include Henry Blofeld, who was covering the series for The Guardian. Micky Stewart walked out of the hospital bed next morning, announced himself fit, got himself included, returned to the hospital by tea, and went straight back to England. But Blofeld never got his Test cap. England were so short of men that India had to lend Kripal Singh to field for England as 12th man.
India were chasing 173 in the historic Oval Test of 1971. Wadekar, run out for 45, was stopped by Brian Johnston of the BBC Test Match Special. He responded with “no English” to every question. A frustrated Johnston asked, “Ajit, you have been talking to me throughout this tour in English. How could you forget English so soon?” Wadekar responded with “only Hindi”, returned to the dressing-room, and fell asleep. He had to be woken up when India created history.
The oddest dismissal?
Mike Hendrick and Madan Lal both debuted in the Old Trafford Test of 1974. During the match, Hendrick swung one in to uproot the off-stump. The ball then grazed the middle-stump on its way before knocking out the leg-stump. When Madan Lal turned around, he saw only the middle-stump standing!
Another rest day
Ian Botham towered over India in the 1970/81 Jubilee Test, also remembered for Gundappa Viswanath’s recalling of Bob Taylor. One curious aspect of the match was the rest day, which happened just after a day’s cricket. The reason? A solar eclipse.
12 confused men
Raman Lamba was substituting for Krish Srikkanth during the Headingley Test of 1986. When Srikkanth returned, he forgot to inform Lamba. As a result, 12 men fielded for India throughout at entire over (bowled by Ravi Shastri).
The Gascoigne Effect
Paul Gascoigne had an excellent run in the FIFA World Cup in Italy just ahead of India’s 1990 series in England. Mohammad Azharuddin’s dazzling 121 at Lord’s in 1990 inspired group of fans to put up a banner that ran Azza’s the Gazza for India.
Gun inside the tube
During the 1996 tour, Sourav Ganguly and Navjot Sidhu took the tube from Piccadilly to Pinner. En route, a young man attempted an unprovoked attack. As things turned serious, he drew a gun on the cricketers. He had to be restrained by a friend. The incident has put Ganguly off public transport in England till date.
Back in 1951/52, a monkey called Jaico had spent some time at mid-wicket during England’s tour match against Maharashtra at Poona. An encore took place in 2012/13, during their match against Haryana at Ahmedabad. It is not known whether the monkeys were related.
Men in duty
India lost six wickets in the fourth innings while trying to save the Rajkot Test of 2016/17, but Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja ensured a draw. With Jadeja counterattacking, precious time was lost as the ball had to be retrieved after fours. The England substitute fielders spread themselves around outside the boundary as additional ball boys who threw the ball back to save time.