The Indian cricket team’s comprehensive mid-August victory over England in the second Test played at Lords, London, the sport’s most hallowed ground worldwide, marks an inflection point in the history of Indian cricket. For the first time ever, all 20 wickets in England’s two innings were taken by Indian pace bowlers hitherto routinely dismissed as gentle medium pacers.
Unfortunately because of reiteration, this disparagement was internalised by Indian cricket selectors and players for several decades. On the other hand English speedsters such as Fred Trueman, an uncouth racist delighted in making Indian batsmen fear not only for their wickets, but lives. It’s worth remembering that in a 1952 Test match at Lords with Trueman on the rampage, India’s score-board famously read 0-4 (four wickets down without a run scored). Therefore, the recent victory at Lords with the four-man Indian pace attack forcing English batsmen to duck, back away and inflicting serious pain and injury, was overdue payback.
This spectacle of top order English batsmen being scattered by India’s Gunga Din (Trueman’s description) speedsters was also very satisfying for your editor, who while a cricket-playing law student in the London league, had to endure numerous jibes and racial slurs from the natives, a nasty tribe with a genius for double-crossing and back-stabbing camouflaged by plum tones and sanctimonious propriety. But this genius enabled this essentially mediocre tribe establish perhaps the greatest colonial empire in world history. That’s why the humiliating English capitulation at Lords, beamed worldwide on real time on television, was an unexpected and hugely satisfying spectacle to behold.