Sunil Gavaskar tells the story of India’s historic Test win against England 50 years ago
50 years ago today, India made history at The Oval and that historic win can never be forgotten, India won its first Test series in England. Sunil Gavaskar remembers that day fondly and why not, after all, he was one of the key factors behind that victory. India created an aggregate of 774 runs in 4 Test matches in the West Indies which made Gavaskar one of the most successful batsmen in the world. This is when India toured England and history was made. Gavaskar relives that magical moment in a recent interview and here we have covered it all for you.
When Gavaskar was asked whether he had any apprehensions before the tour as it was quite early on in his career he said that the West Indies tour had given him and the team a lot of confidence but he was aware that conditions in England would be vastly different. So, he talked to Polly Umrigar, Vijay Manjrekar, Vinoo Mankad who was Gavaskar’s coach from his college, Bapu Nadkarni, Nari Contractor, Madhav, and Arvind Apte. These are only a few names fin the list of many who Gavaskar talked to before this important tournament
Gavaskar remembers that the most important advice came from then chairman of selectors, Vijay Merchant. Vijay Merchant had already had two outstanding tours of England in 1936 and 1946.
Gavaskar was also asked about the length of the tour as the tour lasted for months. It had started in the first week of June and came to an end in the first week of September.
Gavaskar told that the conditions were new for all the team members. Because no one was used to the climate but being the first England tour of the team, the teammates enjoyed themselves nonetheless. He said that everybody got used to the climate and more importantly to the pitches. Sunil Gavaskar tells the story of India’s historic Test win against England 50 years ago.
As they had enough time, players practiced and got into form.
Gavaskar when asked about his self-proclaimed best innings which is 57 in the first innings of the second Test match. He stood by his claim. He still remembered all the details so vividly and told that the biting cold air. Continuous drizzling were not at all helpful that day. The pitch was freshening up due to the drizzle, So, that 57 is still the best innings of the premium batsmen of that time.
Gavaskar recalls how the team was brought back into the game. Due to great bowlers despite conceding the lead in the first innings. Chandra’s bowling and Wadekar’s captaincy saved the day for India, said Gavaskar. He said, “ If you look at the England dismissals, they were all catches in front of the stumps — with Ekki (Solkar) again brilliant — or bowled, so the umpires didn’t come into play at all. The scenes below the balcony are still vivid in memory.”
Gavaskar said commenting on Chandrashekahar’s contribution that he “was simply unplayable”. On the other hand, the team had Sardesai who played two very important knocks. And his partnership with Wadekar was what saw India through that match and ultimately the series.
He also recalled Sardesai’s jokes during the long coach rides between counties and Ashok Mankand’s “invaluable sense of fun”. Gavaskar gives a lot of credit to the victory against West Indies as it boosted the team’s morale.