Foxes Flashback - First Victory over a Test Team
First Victory over a Test Team (10th July 1967)
Matches against touring teams generally created a great deal of interest. The match against Leicestershire was normally played early on in the season, following the match at Worcester, as much as anything to give the touring team a ‘gentle’ start, even though the weather was often freezing cold.
Leicestershire had been playing visiting teams since the beginning. The Australians came and won on their first visit to Grace Road in 1878, before the present club was established. They returned in 1880, the year of the first test match in England and also in that year Leicestershire showed enterprise by playing the Gentlemen of Canada. During the game the Canadian captain, J Dale was arrested on the charge of having deserted from the army. It would be great to report a scorecard entry, ‘absent at Her Majesty’s pleasure’, but instead Leicestershire just allowed another player to take his place.
Leicestershire did win three matches at Aylestone Road against touring teams earlier on in the 20th century, the South Africans in 1901, the West Indies in 1906 and then the South Americans in 1932. None of these teams played Test matches though. The South Americans are noted more for their football or possibly rugby than cricket. At this time there was a substantial British ex pat community in Buenos Aires, and strong links with the coffee industry in Brazil, (commentator Brian Johnston spent a couple of years there buying beans for example). This team had a grand name but was really only an Argentinian team with a Chilean and a Brazilian representative. They were all South American born but many of them had been to school in England.
Leicestershire v Indian Touring Team Scorecard
The South Americans lost by an innings, for they could make nothing of the accurate bowling of George Geary and Horace Snary. The only highlight for then was the bowling of their Old Etonian one-man bowling attack, Clem Gibson.
The 1967 Indians arrived in Leicester to play their last match before the final test having suffered two heavy defeats in the first two tests. A magnificent innings by their captain at Headingley had given them self-respect, but their problem was their opening bowling. It seems that their embarrassing experiences in July 1967 concentrated the minds of the selectors and administrators to encourage seam bowling in that country, with bowlers such as Kapil Dev being the result.
The Indians batted steadily on the first day, the highlight being the 6th wicket partnership of 109 between Hanumant Singh (the Marajkumar of Banswari no less, though he never used the title) and Subramanya, but their total of 281 seemed barely adequate. This was more than Leicestershire managed on the second day (a Sunday). In warm sunshine, a good Grace Road crowd had their first sight of those three great bowlers Bishan Bedi, Prasanna and Venkatarghavan tying the county batsmen in their webs of spin and gaining a first innings advantage of 36.
The verdict for day three was that India would perhaps set Leicestershire some sort of target, but maybe not, instead preferring batting practice with the test match round the corner. How wrong could we be! Monday (from memory) was hot and steamy, and John Cotton bowling almost unchanged (Barry Knight bowled an over which allowed him to change ends with Terry Spencer) bowled out India, dismissing them for just 63. He had dismissed Kunderan caught behind on the Sunday evening. He caught and bowled Ajit Wadekar with his first ball. After a partnership of 34 for the 3rd wicket, he had Surti caught by Terry Spencer, to give him figures so far of 3 for 14 after 26 balls. With Barry Knight bowling tightly from the other end he continued to wreak havoc, supported by a brilliant slip catch by Brian Booth and three more catches by Tolchard, the final one to dismiss Bishan Bedi.
John Cotton’s final figures were 14 overs, 4 maidens, 29 runs, 9 wickets. There are only two better bowling performances by a Leicestershire player: George Geary 10 for 18 (v Glamorgan at Pontypridd, 1929) and Arthur Woodcock 9 for 28 (v MCC at Lord’s, 1899). On reflection therefore, these are the best bowling figures by a Leicestershire bowler in a home match.