Jungly Greig (left) and DD Kanga. Photo courtesy: India's Hambledon Men, by Vasant Raiji.
Jungly Greig (left) and DD Kanga. Photo courtesy: India’s Hambledon Men, by Vasant Raiji.

The history and gradual development of cricket in India has been inextricably linked with her colonial background. Historians have recorded that as early as 1721 there was a game of cricket played at Cambay near Baroda between two teams of British sailors. By 1792, Calcutta Cricket and Football club was already in existence. The early cricket matches of which there is some semblance of documentation all involve players who were not members of the indigenous population of India, which is quite understandable given the large British presence in the country. READ: Jungly Greig: India s first Little Master

Many of the earliest cricket matches played in India involved military personnel stationed here. The gradual emergence of Indians on the cricket fields took a longer time, while the native population gradually began to come to grips with the subtle nuances of this most British of games. In a travelogue entitled Martin Leake: Double VC by Ann Clayton, she describes a cricket match between the Old Etonians of the East India Company against the Rest of Calcutta played at Eden Gardens on an unspecified date in 1804 in which the first century was ever scored on Indian soil, 102 by Robert Vansittart of the Old Etonians team, as Wisden informs us. Regretfully however, no scorecard is available for this match.

Wisden also makes mention of the following batting feats but does not furnish any further details:

1872: First recorded double-century in India (228 by Private Sheiring at Shahjehanpur)

1880: First team total of over 600 made in India (678 by Bolan Pass XI vs Subordinates at Peshawar).

1896: Badeshi Ram became first Indian to score a double-century (219) in India.

A brief report on page 5 of Evening Post, Vol. LVI, Issue 112 dated November 8, 1898 mentions a match between a team raised by Maharaja of Patiala against Ambala Military Cricket XI. Playing for The Maharaja s team, KS Ranjitsinhji had scored 257 not out in a team total of 633 for 4, sharing a 3rd-wicket partnership of 376 with the great Parsee stalwart, Col. Kekhashru Maneksha Mistry, who had scored 255. Again, no formal scorecard is available for this encounter.

While the Sepoy Mutiny raged on the length and breadth of the mainland from May 1857 to June 1859, the archives show an almost complete scorecard of a one-day match between the Rangoon Garrison and the 69th Regiment played at Rangoon on January 27, 1858, Burma then being a part of undivided India. The game grew and developed in India over the next 50 to 60 years until there was a time when several pioneering Indians began to display their skills in the firingee game and the matches began to acquire First-Class status.

This study looks at the instances of individual centuries scored in cricket matches played in India from 1859-60, when one finds the first recorded instance, till 1902-03, when the first Indian scored a century in a First-Class match. The chart below displays the data:

Player

Score

Team

Against

Date

Venue

Status

BF Schomberg

137

10th& 14th Regiments

47th Regiment

October 12, 1859

Misc

Edmund Kennard

120

7th Hussars

Umballah Station

January 10-11, 1861

Umballah

Misc

Guy Campbell

117

Calcutta

90 Regiment

3-day match, January 1881

Calcutta

Misc

HA Kerr

143

John Davy

177

Bangalore

Madras

November 29- December 1, 1888

Bangalore

Misc

Steuart Pears

120

Madras

Bangalore

Edwin Hazleton

117

Madras

Bangalore

Ernest Eicke

149

2nd Battalion The Queen s Regiment

2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment

December 19-20, 1888

Umballah

Misc

Cleveland Greenway

130*

Calcutta CC

GF Vernon s XI

December 23-25, 1889

Eden Gardens

Misc

Arthur Gibson

100

GF Vernon s XI

Calcutta CC

James walker

108

GF Vernon s XI

Northern India

January 20-22, 1890

Alfred Park, Allahabad

Misc

Edward Lawson-smith

117

GF Vernon s XI

Agra

February 14-15, 1890

Agra

Misc

Arthur Hill

132

Lord Hawke s XI

India

January 26-28, 1893

Alfred Park, Allahabad

FC

Henry Ellison

129

Madras presidency

Parsees

December 29-30, 1893

Madras

Misc

Robert Poore

101

Bombay

Madras

December 26-28, 1894

Bombay

Misc

Robert Poore

100*

Europeans

Parsees

August 23-24, 1895

Bombay Gymkhana

FC

Bamamji Billimoria

100

Patiala

Parsees

January 23, 1898

Patiala

Misc

William Brockwell

163

Patiala

Parsees

Jungly Greig

184

Europeans

Parsees

August 11-12, 1899

Bombay Gymkhana

FC

Moran

118

Calcutta

Madras

January 1-3, 1900

Calcutta

Misc

Ralph Williams

105

Oxford University Authentics

Bombay

November 17-19, 1902

Bombay Gymkhana

FC

Jungly Greig

204

Bombay

Oxford University Authentics

FC

Richard Raphael

111

Oxford University Authentics

Parsees

November 24-26, 1902

Bombay Gymkhana

FC

Dinshaw Kanga

116

Parsees

Oxford University Authentics

FC

Note:

– Arthur Hill (132) scored the first First-Class hundred on Indian soil.

– Bamamji Billimoria (100) scored the first hundred by an Indian.

– Jungly Greig (204) scored the first First-Class double-hundred on Indian soil.

– Dinshaw Kanga (116) scored the first First-Class hundred by an Indian.

History states that the first major cricket match played in India was the Calcutta vs Madras match played in Calcutta from January 6 to 8, 1864. From scorecards available, we find several sterling bowling performances in this match, including 5 five-wicket hauls, but no centuries. The highest individual score in this match was 67 Henry Linton in the Madras 1st innings.

Historians generally agree that the very first First-Class match on Indian soil was the Bombay Presidency match of 1892-93 between Europeans and the Parsees at Bombay Gymkhana Ground on August 26 and 27, 1892. The two-day fixture ended in a draw. This tournament was gradually expanded to become the Bombay Triangular and then the Bombay Quadrangular tournaments.

To Arthur James Ledger Hill, then, fell the honour of scoring the first recorded First-Class century on Indian soil. Born July 26, 1871, Bassett, Hampshire, this right-hand batsman and underarm bowler of England and Hampshire had a long First-Class career spanning 1890 to 1921. He played 221 First-Class matches in all, scoring 10,353 runs with 19 centuries and 44 fifties, and taking 305 wickets with 4 five-wicket hauls and a ten-wicket haul.

He played 3 Tests for England, aggregating 251 runs in 4 innings with a highest of 124 and at a very creditable average of 62.65. He also took 4 Test wickets, all of them coming in the same innings, for 8. He was in India with the second English touring team under Lord Hawke. The tourists won the only representative match, as mentioned above, by an innings and 5 runs.

Bamamji Manekji Billimoria was one of the pioneering Parsee players, and the first Indian to score a century in any senior game in India. In a First-Class career spanning 1895-96 to 1901-02, Billimoria played 9 First-Class matches, scoring 268 runs with one fifty and an average of 20.61. He claimed 25 wickets with a best of 8 for 11.

John Glennie Jungly Greig was born in 1871 at Mhow, and was a right-hand batsman and right-arm slow bowler. In a career spanning 1893-94 to 1922, he represented Europeans, MCC, Hampshire, and Bombay, among other teams. He played 125 First-Class matches, scoring 7,348 runs at 36.37 with 3 double-centuries and 12 other centuries. He also held 102 catches and took 138 wickets, with a best of 7 for 35.

Apart from the fact that Greig is the first to score a First-Class double century in India, his performances in the Bombay Presidency Matches up to this score was quite remarkable, as follows:

– 98 and 3* vs Parsees, 1896-97

– 96 and 62* vs Parsees, 1896-97

– 50 vs Parsees, 1898-99

– 184 vs Parsees, 1899-00

– 6 and 58 vs Parsees, 1900-01

– 43 and 12 vs Parsees, 1902-03

– 39 and 30 vs Parsees, 1902-03

Dinshaw DD Kanga was one of a pair of twins, the other being MD Kanga, both being elder brothers of the illustrious Dr Hormasji Dorabji HD Kanga, one of the greatest names in the early days of Indian cricket and a pillar of the Parsees in the last decade of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Perhaps it was poetic justice that one of these brothers should have been the first Indian to score a First-Class century in India, given the massive contribution the family had made to indigenous cricket in India.

DD, a left-hand batsman and wicketkeeper, played 28 First-Class matches for Parsees in a span of 1892-93 to 1902-03, scoring 719 runs with one century. He also had 31 catches and 10 stumpings to his credit. Surprisingly, he also had a spell of 6 for 87 against Europeans at Poona in 1900-01 when his younger brother HD kept wickets.

As time went on, more and more First-Class cricket began to be played in India, there were more great deeds, both with bat and ball. But the above were the pathfinders, as it were, sowing the seeds of batting mastery in the land.

(Pradip Dhole is a retired medical doctor with a life-long interest in cricket history and statistics)