First Cornhill Test



At Lord's, June 10, 11, 12, 14, 15. England won by seven wickets. Despite a first-innings collapse by India, the almost inevitable rain on a Lord's Saturday and a comfortable England win, this was a Test match worth remembering. Botham and Kapil Dev both held the stage in their spectacular styles, and the fourth day was highly entertaining.

Randall and Edmonds returned to England duty after more than two years absence, while Lamb and Pringle earned first caps and Miller was twelfth man.

Kapil Dev briskly accounted for England's early batsmen, reaching 150 Test wickets when Viswanath held a stinging catch off Tavaré. Botham, promoted to No. 5, and Gower improved England's position with a rich display of strokes, Botham especially hitting the ball with great ferocity. They both departed to excellent diving catches and Randall had the responsibility of organising the repair of another unpromising situation. Though never fluent for sustained periods, he achieved this successfully in an alliance with Edmonds, who batted as well as he ever has in a Test match, making his highest score at this level. Randall, 84 overnight, when England were 278 for six, took his time in arriving at a personally important century. He batted 354 minutes, hitting eleven 4s and one 6. Contributions by Taylor, Allott and Willis, whose last-wicket partnership of 70 set a record for England against India, were prosaic preludes to India's downfall, which began just before tea on the second day when Botham beat Parkar.

The ball started to bounce awkwardly and to move off a reasonably helpful pitch, and England's pace attack was too straight for all but Gavaskar. He and Kapil Dev improved 45 for five to 92 before the close. Gavaskar had given the impression that he could stay forever, but he was dismissed twice in the two and a half hours of play that proved possible on the Saturday and India were left with little apparent hope. First Botham bowled him through a drive with a splendid ball, and then, after India had followed on, Willis unshipped him with one of a series of menacing lifters that was jabbed to backward short leg.

India began the Monday at 67 for two in their second innings, and although Shastri performed the night-watchman's job well, India slipped to 110 for four before Yashpal Sharma joined Vengsarkar in offering prolonged resistance. Vengsarkar made 86 between lunch and tea and played some glorious strokes; powerful, yet with the wristiness and ease of the best Indian players. He batted 331 minutes, with 21 4s, and he and Yashpal saw off eight overs of the new ball. Then Willis, bowling near his fastest, took four wickets in four overs, including three in a span of nine balls.

This brought in Kapil Dev, who took the match into a fifth day with a spectacularly violent piece of batting, which he followed, when India were all out, with an inspired new-ball burst. Hitting thirteen 4s and three 6s, with his bat making the sound of gunfire, he was soon on course for the fastest Test century of all time. When he was caught at short mid wicket, he had received only 55 balls. When England batted again, he whipped out Cook, Tavaré and a highly superfluous night-watchman - Taylor - in eight balls, and England were, embarrassingly, 23 for three at the end of a day that contained 331 runs. Lamb's flurry of boundaries efficiently ended the game on the last morning.

The inauguration of the 96-overs-per-day minimum was generally agreed to be a success, with the sides working through their overs in a few minutes over the scheduled six hours. The match was watched by 50,217 people, who paid £211,408.

© John Wisden & Co