The Indian Cricket team has embarked on its 18th "test" tour of England this summer and will play in a 5 test series in Aug/Sep

The first tour was in 1932 and the last was in 2014

In the intervening decades India has played 57 tests in Eng, winning 6, losing 30 and drawing 21!
What's remarkable there is the figure of 57. It is a massive figure given that India has only played in 522 tests in its entire history. So well over 10% of our test matches have been played in England against England.
During this period England has toured India 15 times for a test series. On home soil we have hosted England in 60 tests, winning 19, losing 13 and drawing 28.

So not surprisingly a distinctly better home record.
But again the number that strikes us is 60 tests! So putting both home and away tests together, we get 117 tests.

117 out of the 522 tests we have EVER played as a nation have been against England!
The 2018 tour is significant as it is only the third time in the 18 tours so far that England will be hosting India in a 5-test series. The last two occasions were in 1959 (when we were trounced 0-5) and in 2014 (when we lost 1-3)
One striking fact is that we won a test for the first time in Eng only as late as 1971 on our 7th tour! That victory also resulted in the first series victory on English soil (1-0)
Besides that, there have been two other series wins in England - in 1986 (2-0) and 2007 (1-0), and one drawn series in 2002 (1-1).

So in all, we have lost 14 test series in Eng, won 3 and drawn 1
It all began in 1932 - our first tour after being granted test status. We played a solitary test on that tour at Lord's which we valiantly lost!

But that was not the first tour of England by an Indian team.
The first tour by an all-India team (before getting test status) was actually way back in 1911. This is without considering two other tours in 1886 and 1888 by All-Parsi teams.

The 1911 tour in contrast was a truly pan-Indian team with a remarkably diverse composition.
The team was captained by the Maharaja of Patiala - Bhupinder Singh. A remarkable character in more ways than one
He was the grandfather of Capt Amrinder Singh, the Cong Politician and current Chief Minister of Punjab

He was also well known as a ladies man, having married 5 times, with numerous other liasons. Bhupinder is estimated to have sired 88 children, in his brief life of 49 years!
The 1911 team played 23 matches of which 14 were granted "First class" status. The team actually managed to win 2 of the 14 FC games, drawing 2 and losing 10.

There were no tests ofcourse..
The star performer on the 1911 tour was a man named Palwankar Baloo - a left arm orthodox spinner, who was 35 years old at the time of the tour.

Hailing from the southern town of Dharwad, Baloo was India's first "Dalit" superstar in sport.
On the tour Baloo was a huge success taking 75 wickets in the 14 FC games at an average of 18

Whats interesting is that the man who kept wicket to Baloo was an Iyengar brahmin named KS Sheshachari from Madras

A Brahmin-Dalit collaboration on the cricket field as early as 1911
For the next 20 years, India did not engage in much international cricket. There were no more tours of England.

Even someone like Baloo moved away from cricket and became a politician
Palwankar Baloo was a key figure in the politics of 1930s when he famously sided with Gandhi and against Ambedkar on the issue of separate electorate for Dalits. Ambedkar had to finally relent and signed the "Poona" pact which resulted in a joint Hindu electorate.
It was in 1926 that India along with West Indies and NZ were given test status and admission to what was then called the "Imperian Cricket council"

But it was not until 1932 that India made its test debut - which happened on our first tour of England since 1911
The only test of the tour was at Lord's and India was captained by CK Nayudu - one of our finest all round cricketers of the 20s and 30s.

Though we lost the test it was not by a massive margin - only 158 runs.
England was captained by Douglas Jardine and was at full strength except for the absence of Harold Larwood.

What's interesting about the Indian team of 1932 was that we had no fine spinners back then. Our strength was our new ball attack of Amer Singh and Mohd Nissar
Between them they took 10 of the 18 English wickets.

Nissar was an outright fast bowler from Lahore who ended his FC career with an average of 18.

Amar was a very fine seam bowler from Gujarat who also averaged 18 in FC cricket.
In the light of the preponderance of spin bowling in Indian cricket in later decades, the 1932 attack's reliance on seam is very intriguing!
The tour overall was not bad at all.

India played 26 First class matches on the tour. Winning 9, drawing 9 and losing 8!

A far far superior record to the performance back in 1911
The next tour was in 1936. A much much unhappier tour.

In contrast to 1932, India fared much worse. Of the 28 FC games, we won just 4, drawing 12 and losing 12. Much worse than in 1932

This time though there were 3 tests played, of which England won 2 and one was drawn.
Unlike in 1932, the 36 team was captained by a much inferior player, the Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram.

There were run-ins between him and the more talented players in the group like Lala Amarnath, Vijay Merchant and CK Nayudu.

And Vizzy was perceived as a divisive figure
The highlight of the tour for India was the 2nd test at Manchester, which India managed to draw.

During this match, Vijay Merchant and Mustaq Ali posted a 203 run opening partnership, a record at the time!
The Merchant-Mustaq duo made an interesting contrast.

Merchant ofcourse was one of India's greatest batsmen of all time, ending his career with a FC avg of 71 second only to DG Bradman.

Mustaq was a swashbuckler, a Virendra Sehwag of his day.
The next tour of England had to wait another ten years. It happened after the war, in 1946.

England won the series 1-0 with 2 games drawn.

India was captained by Ifthikar Ali Khan Pataudi - the father of Mansur Pataudi and grandfather of the actor Saif Ali Khan
On the English side, it was the series when the great medium pacer Alec Bedser made his debut post war, taking 22 wickets in his first 2 tests for England! A great start to an illustrious career.
Though the test results were poor as expected, India put on a much much stronger show in the FC fixtures. Its best overseas tour till that point.

Of the 29 FC fixtures, India won 11, drew 14 and lost just 4!
Three Indian batsmen exceeded 1000 runs for the whole season - Merchant, Rusi Modi and Vinoo Mankad.

VIjay Merchant ended the tour with 2,385 runs at an average of 75 and with 7 centuries!
Mankad also took 129 wickets on the tour, achieving the rare double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in the season for a touring cricketer.
What's interesting between the 1930s and 1946 is that our "pace bowling" (strong in 1932) had by now largely subsided, with an increasing reliance on spin (particularly that of Mankad)
The next tour of England was post independence in 1952.

Unlike in 1946, when England resources were impacted by war, India was now up against a much stronger England side captained by Len Hutton.

Unlike previous tours it was a 4-test series which Eng won 3-0
THis tour marked the debut of Fred Trueman, the Yorkshire quick, who went on to become the first person in the world to take 300 wickets

Trueman terrorized the Indian batsmen on the tour. In the 2nd innings of the first test, India was famously reduced to 0 for 4 at one stage!
India was captained by Vijay Hazare. But the star performer was Vinoo Mankad, who gave one of the greatest test performances of all time in the 2nd test at Lord's.
In that test (known to this day as Mankad's test), Mankad scored 72 in 1st inn, 184 in the 2nd inn, and took 5 for 196 in England's 1st inn bowling 73 overs.

Notwithstanding this super effort, England won the match by 8 wickets!
The next English tour did not happen 7 years later, till 1959.

On that tour, India played in a 5 test series in England for the first time, and had a whitewash losing all 5 matches.

Even on the whole FC tour, India won just 4 games while losing 11.
What's interesting is the decline in performance overseas of the Indian team between the late 40s and late 50s.

The 1959 performance was much much worse than what the 1946 team or even the 1932 team had managed many years ago.
Part of the reason was that English cricket was in much better shape in the 1950s having recovered from the war. And its test side was regarded as the best in the world for much of the 50s.
The abysmal performance of 59 meant that India did not tour England again till 1967, this time captained by the handicapped Mansur Pataudi the son of Ifthikar who had captained the team 21 years previously
Though England predictably won all 3 tests, the charater of the Indian team had changed between 1959 and 1967.

It was a much younger, more spirited side. And it had 4 very fine young spinners coming into their own - Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghavan
In the third test at Edgbaston, something remarkable happened. For probably the first time in test history, a team was spearheaded by four spin bowlers - the four bowlers mentioned in the last tweet

These 4 spinners bowled England out for 298 on the first day of the test match
This was a sign of things to come as three of these four spinners would again play a big role in shaping India's first overseas win in England 4 years later in 1971.
in 1971, India toured England after completing a successful tour of West Indies. This was Sunil Gavaskar's second tour. And the team was captained by Ajit Wadekar.

We won the series 1-0, and lost just one FC game on the whole tour
The first test was an exciting draw, with the game being rained off with India needing 38 to win and England needing 2 wickets. Anybody's game.

The series win was shaped by an Indian victory in the third test at the Oval - with a match winning spell of 6-38 by BS Chandrashekar
It was a remarkable phase in Indian cricket - coming as it did as a follow up to an equally famous series victory against Gary Sobers's West Indies.

The Indian team returned home to a ticker tape parade welcome.
The next tour of England was in 1974 - which was a huge reversal after the promise shown in 1971.

India was whitewashed 0-3 in as many tests. One one infamous occasion in the 2nd test at Lord's they were even bowled out for 42! Our lowest total in tests till date.
The one highlight for India on the tour was Gavaskar's 101 in the first test in very difficult batting conditions at Old Trafford - that is still regarded by him as his finest test innings.
India toured England next in 1979 when we were captained by veteran spinner Venkatraghavan. The team competed well and lost narrowly 0-1 with 3 drawn tests

The major highlight was Gavaskar's monumental 221 in the drawn Oval test - a game where we came within 10 runs of victory
In the next decade, there were two more tours, one in 1982 and another in 1986.

It was a phase when we competed with England equally. Losing the 82 series 0-1 but winning comfortably 2-0 in 1986
The vastly superior Indian performance in the 80s was mainly driven by the presence of Kapil Dev - India had a classy seam and swing bowler for the first time in its history. Easily its best since Amar Singh in the 30s.
On the batting front, Gavaskar soldiered on, with young stars like Vengsarkar, who hit 3 centuries at Lord's in the course of the 80s and was India's most prolific batsman in England.
However Indian cricket took a few steps back in the 1990s, an era when it became more and more impregnable at home, but also increasingly mediocre abroad.
There were two tours of England in the 1990s - in 1990 and 1996. Both times captained by Mohd Azharuddin. On both occasions, we lost the test series by a 0-1 margin.
Notwithstanding the poor team results, there were individual highlights to savor particularly from the batsmen on both tours.
In 1990, we had Sachin Tendulkar scoring his debut century at age 17 and rescuing India from defeat at Old Trafford with 119*

We had Mohd Azharuddin's breathtaking century at Lord's in a remarkably high scoring game that saw Gooch hit 333 and Kapil hit 4 sixes to avoid follow on
In 1996, we had Tendulkar's fine century in a losing cause at Edgbaston in the 1st test, and then the debut of two young players Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly at Lord's in the 2nd test

Ganguly hit a century on debut and Dravid 95. It was a fine start to two illustrious careers
But notwithstanding these highlights, the team performances were poor relative to the highs of the 70s and 80s.
That was to change in the new millennium, when English tours became increasingly frequent.

In the 18 years since 2000, India has toured England 4 times - in 2002, 2007, 2011, and 2014.
In 2002, we managed to draw the series 1-1 with a very famous victory at Headingley when India put forth one of its finest batting shows of all time with huge huge hundreds from Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly.

THe star of the series was Dravid with over 600 runs.
In 2007 we translated individual brilliance into a positive result for the team, winning the series 1-0, our third test series victory in England ever.

The seam bowling of Zaheer Khan played a key role in the Indian victory.
But the last decade has been a disappointment, a regressio of sorts, after the high of the 2000s - a decade that we ended as the number 1 test team in the world.

In 2011, the Indian team was trounced 4-0 by Strauss's Englishmen. And 3-1 by Cook's team in 2014.
Two very embarassing defeats

What caused this regression? In 2011 the team had v high hopes, but the ageing batting lineup was badly exposed by the fine English attack

In 2014, the result was more inexplicable as the batsmen came a cropper against the mediocre spin of Moeen Ali
So the Indian experience in England has been a bit of a roller coaster ride right from 1971 when we posted our first win.

The high of 71
The low of 74
The high of 86
The lows of 90 and 96
The high of 2002/2007
And the abysmal lows of 2011/2014
It is a country where we have often flattered to deceive. But it's also a country where many of our legends made their finest mark.

SIngh and Nissar in '32
Merchant in 46
Mankad in 52
Chandra in 71
Gavaskar in 79
Vengsarkar in 86
Azhar in 90
Dravid / Ganguly in 96
These were career defining performances for these men, without which their careers would lack a great deal of lustre.

So it is a country that has made many an Indian legend.
All the more reason to look forward to the long 5-test series that lies ahead of Virat Kohli's men!
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