Botham steals the Golden Jubilee limelight
Partab Ramchand - 10 December 2001
As part of its golden jubilee celebrations, the Board of Control for
Cricket in India invited England, Indiaís oldest opponent, to play a
Test match at the Wankhede stadium in Bombay in February 1980. The game
was preceded by a grand assemblage of Indian Test players, past and
present. It was indeed a momentous occasion, complete with a fireworks
display at the Brabourne stadium, which was also the venue of a gala
Among those who attended the special occasion was the oldest Indian
cricketer then present, 84-year-old Cota Ramaswami. Others included two
members of the 1932 team to England, Naoomal Jeoomal and Lall Singh. The
assembled veterans were introduced to the gathering in front of the
pavilion on the opening day of the Test. Mementoes were presented to the
captains of the two teams, Mike Brearley and Gundappa Viswanath. SC
Griffith represented the Marylebone Cricket Club, and the Deputy British
High Commissioner in India also attended. The BCCI chief M Chinnaswamy
made the welcome speech. The Board also published an informative volume
to observe the historic occasion.
After all these celebrations, the commemorative Test
match got underway. Anticlimactically, it proved to be a one-sided
affair, which was a bit of a surprise for England, who were on their way
back from a 3-0 drubbing in Australia. India, on the other hand, had
experienced a very successful home season, beating both Australia and
Pakistan by 2-0 margins.
After all these celebrations, the commemorative Test match got underway.
Anticlimactically, it proved to be a one-sided affair, which was a bit
of a surprise for England, who were on their way back from a 3-0
drubbing in Australia. India, on the other hand, had experienced a very
successful home season, beating both Australia and Pakistan by 2-0
margins. The Test was also billed as a contest between Kapil Dev and Ian
Botham, the two great all-rounders then being at their youthful peaks.
Just as England won the game easily by eight wickets by the fourth
afternoon, Botham also took the individual honours with a superb all-
Viswanath won the toss in his second and last Test as India captain but,
before the end of the first day, the home team had been bowled out for
242. Not one batsman reached 50, with Sunil Gavaskar, 49, the top
scorer. Bothamís swing proved too hot to handle, and he finished with
six for 58.
Indiaís seam bowlers - Kapil Dev, Karsan Ghavri and Roger Binny - made
deep inroads when England batted. At 58 for five, the visitors were
tottering. Wicket-keeper Bob Taylor and Botham, however, changed the
complexion of the game, adding 171 runs for the sixth wicket. Botham,
who dominated the scoring, was finally out for 114; he batted 206
minutes and hit 17 fours. Taylor scored 43, and England were able to
clinch a first-innings lead of 54. Kapil Dev (3 for 64) and Ghavri (5
for 52) were the successful bowlers for India.
The English rearguard action knocked the fight out of the Indian camp,
and the home team at 58 for six were facing defeat inside three days.
Botham had taken five of the wickets, making him the first to score a
century and take 10 wickets in a match; he also became the first to
score a hundred and take five wickets in an innings on three occasions.
Yashpal Sharma (27) and Kapil Dev (45) ensured that the match went into
a fourth day with a seventh-wicket stand of 44 runs, but India were
ultimately all out for 149 on the penultimate morning. Botham finished
with seven for 48, giving him match figures of 13 for 106 ≠ a record
haul for India≠England Test matches and a record for any Test in Bombay.
But even with this performance, Botham had to share honours with Taylor,
who established a world Test record by holding 10 catches in the match.
His seven dismissals in the first innings also equaled the world record
set by Pakistanís Wasim Bari the previous season against New Zealand.
England hit off the required 96 runs without any loss, Graham Gooch
making 49 and Geoffrey Boycott 43. Two Indians passed important personal
landmarks; Syed Kirmani became the first to complete 100 dismissals for
India in his 42nd Test, while Viswanath crossed 5000 runs in Tests, only
the second after Gavaskar, in his 69th Test.
In the ultimate analysis, the talking points of the match were neither
Englandís surprisingly easy victory nor the performances of Botham and
Taylor, but two incidents involving, directly or indirectly, the
umpires. Indeed, the sixth-wicket partnership between the two England
players could have been terminated at 85. Umpire Hanumantha Rao upheld
an appeal against Taylor for a catch by Kirmani. The batsman indicated
that he had not played the ball. Viswanath, fielding at first slip,
confirmed that Taylor had not touched the ball and persuaded the umpire
to revoke his decision. Taylor continued batting and put on the
partnership that had a considerable impact on the outcome of the game.
In the second innings, Boycott ignored the umpire when he gave him out
in response to a similar appeal and continued with his innings. It was
surprising that the fielders did not ask him to leave the crease or that
the umpire did not assert himself.
But then, perhaps the Indians did not wish to create unpleasantness in
what was a celebratory game, even if it was an official Test match.
Indeed, both teams were quite tired, and this was evident in the match.
India had played 12 Tests in about four months, and England had just
completed an arduous and unsuccessful tour of Australia. Considering the
special occasion, the attendance for the match was disappointing. One
interesting sidelight of the match was that the rest day was brought
forward to the second day because of a solar eclipse.