India’s tour of England in 1952 was India’s first visit to the Great Britain post independence and altogether, it was India’s fourth tour of England. India, led by Vijay Hazare, was scheduled to play four Tests between June 5 and August 19. After losing the first two matches of the series, both the teams next headed to Manchester. During those months of the year, England occasional rains and a day before the Manchester Test, it had poured in the city. Courtesy of the rain, the pitch was left greasy on the top and it turned out to be heaven for fast bowlers. Taking full advantage of the favourable conditions, English pacer Fred Trueman demolished India in both the innings. July 19 – the day the Test, where India were bowled out for 58 and 82 on a single day, began at Old Trafford.
Sir Hutton’s classy show
England’s Captain, Sir Leonard Hutton, won the toss for the first time in the four-Test series and opted to bat first. Manchester provided its typical weather conditions of July. Not only did the downpour limit the play to three hours and fifty minutes, but there was never good light during the day. These conditions were famous to make batting difficult and the hosts knew it the best. Hence, when Hutton came out to bat with David Sheppard, the duo were seen being extremely careful of their shots and that meant the runs came in extremely slow-paced. In the first hour, England scored only 28 runs and in the next, they added another 48.
Throughout the opening day of the Manchester Test, the Indian bowlers were hampered by the wet ball. They managed to move it a bit but England batsman anyway kept the scorecard ticking and with the passing overs, their runs came more with an ease. In the second over after lunch, when the light had got worse, Gulabrai Ranchand made India’s first breakthrough. He ended Sheppard’s 150-minute knock of 34 by trapping him Leg Before Wicket (LBW). Only one more ball was bowled before the umpires decided to suspend the play owing to the bad light.
After England’s innings was resumed, Hutton passed the Test aggregate of 5,410 of J. B. Hobbs and continued his display of incredible cricket. At stumps on Day one, Hutton was unbeaten 85, 15 away from his 16th Test century and England were 152 for 2. On Day two, Hutton was not to his previous day’s touch and took an hour and a quarter to complete his century. The second day ended with England still batting; they closed Day two at 292 for 7. Next day England added another 55 runs and declared their innings at 347 for 9 in 144 overs.
Although towards the end of England’s innings the pitch had recovered from the greasiness due to the rains, the fast bowler Trueman, produced one of the ruthless spells witnessed in Test cricket.
India 58 all-out
There was not a single instance when India had a reason to smile when they batted for the first time in the Old Trafford Test. Surrey’s fast bowler, Alec Bedser, drew first blood before Trueman started his destruction of the Indian line-up. Lockwood touched the ball for the first time in the match and that was when he took a splendid catch at short-leg and helped Beder to Mankad’s wicket. From there on, the next six wickets belonged to Trueman.
The other Indian opener spent only eight minutes at the crease as he would become Trueman’s first victim of the day. With no runs added for the first wicket at 4 for 1, England skipper Hutton caught Roy off Trueman’s bowling and left India miserable at 4 for 2.
Trueman also assisted his captain with his own field positions. He did one of the best analyses of the game during his time. His field contained three slips, three men in the gulley, two at short-leg and a short mid-off; be it any situation in the game, he had everything calculated well beforehand. Trueman’s next prey and India’s third wicket also went for a duck; after spending a 12-odd minute at the crease, Hemu Adhikari was caught by Graveney.
In not time, India’s middle-order had started in on. Polly Umrigar joined his captain, Hazare, in the middle in a hope to rescue India from an embarrassing position of 5 for 3. Umrigar even smashed Trueman for a boundary but his happiness did not last long. The Yorkshire-born bowler was in a vicious mood and a few balls later, he ended Umrigar’s 19-minute knock of four runs by rattling his stumps off. That dismissal left India at 17 for 4.
Dattu Phadkar was caught by Sheppard for a golden duck and in turn he became Trueman’s fourth wicket. That followed by India’s highest stand of the match; Vijay Manjrekar and Hazare shared a stand of 28 runs for the sixth wicket. Soon after that, Trueman ended Manjrekar’s 22-run innings as well, that was inclusive of three boundaries. India were at 45 for 6 and in no time, Trueman bowled the visitors out for 58 and finished with figures of 8 for 31. India’s total of 58 in Old Trafford equaled their lowest in Test cricket, that against Australia at Brisbane in 1947-48.
(However, in 1974, India recorded their lowest score in Tests when they bundled out for 42 against England.)
India 82 all-out
Trueman began India’s second collapse, on the same day, with the dismissal of Pankaj Roy, who failed to score in both the innings. India found themselves in trouble once again at 7 for 1. The dominance of England over India had no bounds in the Test and that saw India crumble in the second innings as well. More importantly, English captain Hutton did not need to recall Trueman for a second spell. After Adhikari and Hazare’s stand of 48 runs for the third wicket, the collapse took to third gear. Against the Bedser and Lockwood’s fast bowling, India’s last seven wickets fell for 27.
In their two innings, India batted less than two hours, overall. This Test was the first instance when a team was dismissed twice on a single day. India went on to lose the four-Test series 0-3; the last match ended in a draw due to the rains and India escaped from a 0-4 whitewash. The sole wrecker of the Indian team, Fred Trueman, finished the series as the highest wicket-taker with 29 scalps from four games. He would later become the first man to pick up 300 Test wickets. The 8 for 31 remained his career-best figures.