Saturday, January 19, 2019
Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2005
First ever Test victory: what the stats do not say

Z Alam

On the 10th of January 2005, Bangladesh achieved their maiden Test victory beating Zimbabwe by 226 runs. Although the victory was achieved in a very convincing manner, it failed to convince the detractors of Bangladesh cricket. It did not matter to them that Bangladesh had achieved this feat in only their 5th year in test cricket. Whenever people point to the fact that it took India 20 years to achieve their first ever victory, the detractors are quick to point out that ours was achieved against a weakened Zimbabwe team. Sadly, our neighbors are among the most vociferous of people who oppose our test status.

India became the sixth member of the "elite club" alongside England, Australia, South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand in June 1932. India had to wait until 1952 to record its first ever Test victory when they beat England by an innings in the fifth Test of the series in Madras. England won the 4th test and the other 3 tests of that 5 Test series ended in draw.

The very next year (1952), India toured England and promptly lost a 4-test series 3-0. England?s victory came by 7 wickets (1st Test), 8 wickets (2nd Test), and by an innings and 207 runs (3rd test; India were bowled out for 58 and 82 in response to England?s 347). The only Test that ended in draw was heavily affected by weather. The third day?s play was washed out and in the only completed innings, India was bowled out for 98.

Now let us have a look at the England team that was on the receiving end of the historic loss in Madras. The England team for the fifth Test consisted of FA Lowson, +RT Spooner, TW Graveney, JDB Robertson, AJ Watkins, CJ Poole, *DB Carr, MJ Hilton, JB Statham, F Ridgway, R Tattersall.

England?s team for the first Test of the 1952 tour consisted of - *L Hutton, RT Simpson, PBH May, DCS Compton, TW Graveney, AJ Watkins, +TG Evans, RO Jenkins, JC Laker, AV Bedser and FS Trueman.

Of the 11 players that toured India in the previous year, only Tom Graveney and Allan Watkins managed to hold on to their places. Who were these other players that were absent from the team that lost? Len Hutton is one of England?s all time greats ? one of the finest opening batsmen that ever played. Dennis Compton, according to Cricinfo, "was not just a great cricketer but a character who transcended the game and became what would now be called a national icon". Godfrey Evans was arguably the best wicket-keeper the world had seen before the emergence of Adam Gilchrist. Jim Laker, of course is the only man in test cricket to have captured 19 wickets in a Test. Alec Bedser took 236 wickets in only 51 Tests (one of the best strike rates ever). Freddie Trueman was the first man ever to take 300 wickets in Tests. Peter May was also a very accomplished batsman and according to Cricinfo, he "glided towards greatness in an effortless-looking manner".

Did all these players emerge out of the blue? No! Among these players who were missing from the team that lost to India earlier that year, only Trueman made his debut in the series in England. Hutton, May, Compton, Laker, and Bedser all played significant roles in the series against South Africa that occurred just before England?s tour to India.

Now what would you say about an Indian team without Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Shewag, Laxman, Kumble, Harbajan, Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan? What would a victory against such a team mean?