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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

freedom fighter Nana Sahib ~ and the 6 day Test at Kanpur

Nana Sahib,  born as Dhondu Pant, led the Kanpur rebellion during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he was entitled to a pension from the English East India Company. The Company's refusal to continue the pension after his father's death, as well as what he perceived as high-handed policies, compelled him to revolt and seek freedom from company rule in India.

"Nana Sahib with his escort" by Unknown engraver (London Printing and Publishing Co.) - History of the Indian Mutiny (late 1950s, about 1860). Found at Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - 

Change is natural – though some take long time to change.  Test cricket could be reduced to four days, and the next World Cup curtailed to 40 overs a side, if wide-ranging discussions between the Chairman of the English counties and the ECB become firm proposals, and are ultimately adopted by the ICC. Any reduction in five-day cricket would mean the abandonment of a tradition that has been at the heart of the international game for more than 30 years.  There was a time when cricket had a timeless Test – the match lasted for 10 days and only ended because the English team had to leave the ground to catch the boat back home.  Even in India, I have watched 6 day matches – i.e., Tests with a rest day in between.  In Australia, New Zealand there were overs with 8 balls.  When we toured Kiwis in 1976, under Bishan Bedi, it was 8 ball affair.  

Kanpur is one of the largest cities in India by land area and populous too. Kanpur is situated on the bank of the Ganges River and has been an important place in the history of modern India. Kanpur was one of the main centres of industrial revolution in India. It was known as Manchester of the East. Towards the end of 19th century, Sir John Burney Allens established a group of companies such as Kanpur Textiles, Cawnpore Woollen Mills (Lal-imli), Flex Shoes Company, Elgin Mills and North Tannery under the banner of British India Corporation having headquarters at Kanpur. In the beginning of the 20th century, Lala Kamlapat established a group of companies such as; J.K. Cotton Mills and J.K. Iron etc.  The British Government also established a number of factories like; Aircraft Manufacturing Depot, Kanpur (Now HAL), Ordnance Factory, Kanpur (Manufactured the Nirbheek Revolver) and Parachute Factory in 1886 to supplement their defence requirements.

In earlier centuries, it was part of the Oudh kingdom and then came into the hands of the British. At this time, the British realized the strategic importance of the site of Kanpur. European businessmen had, by this time, started establishing themselves in Kanpur.  Kanpur later became one of the most important military stations of British India.

Wayback in 1979, when West Indies toured India, the last test – the 6th of that Series was played at Kanpur.   Interestingly that test (No.845) played in Feb 1979 was scheduled to be a six day match between 2nd and 8th Feb 1979.  West Indies were without their star players as they were playing in Packer’s World Series and banned.  Sunil Gavaskar led the Indians, scored runs and won at Chepauk, in an otherwise dull series.  The final Test of the Series was scheduled to be a 6 day affair to enable a result – that did not happen eventually is something altogether difference. 

It was a slow pitch, rain too interfered often – ironically even the first innings were not completed.   India opened with Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan who made 40 and 79 respectively.  Gundappa Viswanath made a big century – 179.  Anshuman Gaekwad made 102, Mohinder Amarnath 101, Kapil Dev 62 – made a massive 644 for 7 declared in 189.4 overs against an attach of Malcolm Marshall, Norbert Philip, Vanburn Holder, Jumadeen, Parry and Gomes. 

West Indies, needing 445 to avoid follow-on, were 137 for two at the end of the third day, having lost Gomes five minutes before the close. Jumadeen came in as a night-watchman and stayed till after lunch on the fourth day.  thereafter the match belonged to Syed Bacchus, the wicket keeper who made career best 250.  After a rest day, the 5th day of the test was washed out and rain  delayed the start of the sixth until after lunch. When play resumed, West Indies needed another 72 to avoid the follow-on, with six wickets in hand. The roller kept the soaked clay pitch quiet for a while; and by the time the damp came through to assist the bowlers, the gap had narrowed.  At last, when Bacchus got out, they required 17 more.  West Indies had barely avoided the follow-on when bad light ran down the curtain on the slow-moving Test match and on the series.  They finished at 452 for 8 in 148.1 overs when play was called off as ‘drawn’.  Srinivasan Venkatraghavan had excellent figures of 46.1-16-60-1 (yes 16 maidens).  Karsan Devraj Ghavri took 4, some with his left arm spin. 

It was to be the last match for many WI players.  Alvin Greenidge not any relation to Gordon Greenidge opened in that match.  When the Packer rebels returned he was discarded. He had one more glimpse of the big time in 1980 when he was summoned from Holland - where he played club cricket - to field for the injury-hit West Indies at The Oval. Greenidge continued to score prolifically for Barbados without ever coming close to selection again, and his career ended when he toured South Africa with a rebel West Indies side in 1982-83.  That rebel tour from West Indies was most unexpected.  Unlike their English counterparts, who were banned for three years, the West Indians received life bans in all forms of the game.  Many members of the side  had to reside outside their home countries. Lawrence Rowe who has a 302 in Test, remains a legend but  was regarded as one with a flaw at the centre of his character.

Not many batsmen make 250 in a Test but average only 26, but Faoud Bacchus,  did precisely that. Apart from that 250 - he also made seven ducks in 30 innings.  He played 19 Tests for West Indies in the late 1970s and early '80s in all, remarkably every one of them on a different Test ground. He returned 15 years later, at 43, to play ICC Trophy cricket for USA where he now lives.

That Kanpur Test brought end to many Cricketer’s careers while the ‘Six Day Test’ would ever be a history and most unlikely to be played for such a longer duration again !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Feb 2015.

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