Although England’s first Test match against India was in 1932, it was not until 20 years later that Headingley staged an international game against the south Asian country. Since that year the two sides have met only intermittently in Yorkshire; this will be the seventh Leeds Test between England and India, the first for 19 years and only the second in the last 35. Paul Dyson re-visits a game from over 50 years ago which had a remarkable turn-around.
June 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 1967 at Headingley: England 550-4dec (G Boycott 246*, BL d’Oliveira 109, KF Barrington 93, TW Graveney 59) & 126-4; India 164 (Nawab of Pataudi 64) & 510 (Nawab of Pataudi 148, AL Wadekar 91, FM Engineer 87, Hanumant Singh 73, R Illingworth 4-100). England won by six wickets.
This was the first Test of a three-match series and India came into it with little form having won none of their nine (!) first-class warm-up matches. They were partly hampered by the weather but, other than against Oxford University, no batsman had made a century and no bowler had taken a five-for. The weather for this match was more to the tourists’ liking, there being a considerable amount of sunshine on all five days. The crowd was a disappointment, despite this, and a peak of only 12,000 was reached on the third day – a Saturday.
Yorkshire’s Brian Close won the toss and decided to bat. The pitch was an excellent one although it started damp at the rugby stand end, the result of late watering. Consequently, England struggled for runs at times, none more so than Geoff Boycott who came into the game completely out of form. Although he ended the day on 106 not out his slow scoring led to a radio comment to the effect that it was a good job he was a local hero otherwise he would have been barracked a great deal. After the very early loss of John Edrich, Boycott shred century stands with both Ken Barrington and Tom Graveney; they each made half-centuries and batted much faster than the Yorkshireman was doing.
England finished the day on 281 for three. To add to India’s woes, two of their bowlers were injured during the day: ten minutes after lunch Rusi Surti, fielding in his own specialist position of short leg, was struck below the left knee; towards the end of the same session Bishan Bedi had to leave the field with a leg strain. Neither bowled or fielded again in the match and both batted with a runner.