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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Afghan and Ireland granted Test Status - who was India's first Captain ??

Porbandar State was a princely state during the British Raj. It was one of the few princely states with a coastline.  The capital of state was the harbour town of Porbandar. Some other important towns of state were Bhanvad, Chhaya, Ranpar and Shrinagar.  One may readily link Gandhi with the State, but have you heard of - Lieutenant-Colonel Maharaja Rana Shri Sir Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji Sahib Bahadur, KCSI  ~ the Maharaja of Porbandar and his link to Cricket ?

It may hard to link this group standing at Victoria Railway Station in London in 1932 – it is visiting Indian Cricket Team !! [pic credit :]

Since news of Kumble's resignation broke on Tuesday evening, the narrative on mainstream as well as on social media has been overwhelmingly supportive of the deposed coach. Sunil Gavaskar laid into the players for expecting a "softie" for the role, someone who would "let them go shopping". Irate tweeters have demanded Kohli be sacked too. TV pundits have hollered about the limits that must be placed on the powers of a captain. And speculation has been rife about cliques and vested interests that have forced a legendary figure out. Kohli has essentially been accused of staging a palace coup.

Quite clearly, the obvious fallout is in terms of precedent. If Kohli - and several players in his team, as we are now hearing - have successfully evicted a man of Kumble's eminence, how must his successor operate? Will he be in any position to confront the captain on issues such as tactics, playing XIs, fitness, player management and so on, if he happens to disagree?  But as is in every other situation, is there not another view point – that of players and Captain ? – why none is heard in the din. Are players more important or the Coach – and basically what is expected of the Coach :-  training, tutoring, nurturing, motivating, changing their basic styles, strategy, socializing, innovative ideas, mental freshness, powerpoints, bashing after match, fitness regime, finding right choices, team composition – what exactly ? why not the performance of the Coach be gauged away from what he accomplished in his playing days ??

Way back i9n June 1932, i8n Test no. 219 – a 3 day match at that – India debuted – the match  started in dramatic fashion when they reduced a strong England side to 19 for 3 inside the first hour. There was to be no fairytale ending. Douglas Jardine, who by the end of the year had become a figure of hatred in Australia, twice bailed England out and India, hit by injuries as well, lost by 158 runs.  The politics of India at the time meant that the captain of the All-India side had to be from nobility, much as the England captain had to be an amateur. This narrowed the field considerably as while there were eligible candidates, none of them were good enough as players. But the game needed the money and patronage the nobility brought with them.

In 1929 India were admitted to the ICC and Anthony de Mello, the secretary of the Indian board, suggested that perhaps an Englishman could captain India, mainly to act as a neutral who might be able to bridge and handle ethnic and religious divides. The man suggested was Jardine, Bombay born, from a family with strong links to the country, and reportedly on the verge of going to settle back there. The idea never came to anything, and Jardine ended up leading England against them at Lord's.  New Zealand had made their Test debut in 1926 and West Indies in 1928, so India was sure to follow. It should have happened in 1930-31 but a tour by MCC was cancelled because of a civil disobedience campaign, and another attempt the following season was scrapped when threats to boycott all matches in Bombay were made.

An Indian cricket team toured England in the 1932 season under the title of the "All-India" team. This was the second tour of England by an Indian team, played the first Test match ever played by India. England won by 158 runs after scoring 259 and 275/8d in the two innings while India was bowled out for 189 and 187. India played 38 matches in all, including 26 first-class fixtures. The team won 9 first-class matches, drew 9 and lost 8. Captained by the Maharaja of Porbandar, the team's outstanding batsman was the right-handed C. K. Nayudu. 

Good news to the Cricketing World is that ICC has voted in London on Thursday to make Afghanistan, along with Ireland, full members of the organisation, allowing them to become part of the elite 12 sides who play Test matches. War-torn Afghanistan is celebrating its national team's entry into Test cricket, saying it's a dream come true after years of bloody violence. "It was a big dream of the cricket board,  team and every Afghan. Afghanistan has made tremendous progress, in the last few years, they have  been playing very good cricket, beating full members like Zimbabwe. 

Afghanistan and Ireland's boards had applied to the ICC to have their status upgraded from Associates, and this was put to vote at the meeting on Thursday and unanimously supported. Ireland first gained ODI status in 2005 after finishing runners-up in the ICC Trophy tournament, which they hosted, to gain their first World Cup berth. Two years later they scored a shock upset of Pakistan on St Patrick's Day in Jamaica and they've never looked back, qualifying for two subsequent World Cups in which they defeated England and West Indies to further press their case that they could maintain competitiveness with other Test nations. "Test cricket is the pinnacle, it's the best. Afghanistan's rise has been even sharper having first gained ODI status in 2009 with a sixth-place finish at that year's World Cup Qualifier in South Africa. It followed three consecutive promotions over the previous year when they began in Division Five of the World Cricket League. Like Ireland, they have demonstrated the talent to stand toe-to-toe with Full Member nations, securing three straight ODI and T20I series wins over Zimbabwe as well as a win over eventual champion West Indies at the 2016 World T20. Most recently they drew their maiden ODI series in West Indies.

Maharaja of Porbandar, officially, Lieutenant-Colonel Maharaja Rana Shri Sir Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji Sahib Bahadur, KCSI,  was the last Maharaja of Porbandar belonging to Jethwa dynasty, who ascended the throne of princely state of Porbandar in 1908  and ruled until his state was merged into India on 15 February 1948.  He captained India in her first Test tour of England in 1932, but played in only four of the 26 first-class matches and stood down from the captaincy in favor of the more talented C.K. Nayudu for the Test against England.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

23rd June 2017.

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