The 1932 Indian team in England. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons Back, from left: Lall Singh, Phiroze Palia, Jahangir Khan, Mohammad Nissar, Amar Singh, Bahadur Kapadia, Shankarrao Godambe, Ghulam Mohammad, Janardan Navle. Middle, from left: Wazir Ali, CK Nayudu, Maharaja of Porbandar (captain, in glasses), KS Limbdi (vice-captain), Nazir Ali, Joginder Singh. Front, from left: Naoomal Jaoomal, Sorabji Colah, Nariman Marshall.
The 1932 Indian team in England. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Back, from left: Lall Singh, Phiroze Palia, Jahangir Khan, Mohammad Nissar, Amar Singh, Bahadur Kapadia, Shankarrao Godambe, Ghulam Mohammad, Janardan Navle.
Middle, from left: Wazir Ali, CK Nayudu, Maharaja of Porbandar (captain, in glasses), KS Limbdi (vice-captain), Nazir Ali, Joginder Singh.
Front, from left: Naoomal Jaoomal, Sorabji Colah, Nariman Marshall.

It was an august gathering at Porbandar on Saturday, June 7, 1947. KS Duleepsinhji, descendant of the royal family of Nawanagar, was about to address the assembled guests. Today is a Red Letter Day for Indian cricket not because this school bears my name but a genuine beginning to lay the foundation for India’s cricket has been laid in true sense, said Duleep at the inauguration ceremony of the Duleep School of Cricket at Porbandar on that day. The school was to be a grand gesture of royal largesse by Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji, the Maharaja of Porbandar, to his home town.In his own speech, the Maharaja had modestly expressed the hope that the school would help in promoting the interests of Indian cricket. Vijay Merchant had graced the occasion and offered his thanks to the Maharaja on behalf of all cricket loving Indians.

A costal city in the state of Gujarat, Porbandar is renowned in Indian history as being the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. The erstwhile Royal family of the area issaid to have descended from the Jethwa clan of Rajputs (named after Jethaji, the patriarch of the family) and it is believed that the last of the Royal line was the 185th in the lineage. Having arrived at Western India more than 2,000 years ago, the family had settled at Mayurpuri till 1193, then moving on successively to Nagnah, Ghumli, and to Ranpur in 1313. From there, they shifted base to Chhaya in 1574 before finally settling at Porbandar in 1785. The family motto Sri Vusubhdwujyanumah translates as I bow to him whose sign is the bull, and the royal personages of the family were entitled to a 13-gun salute on state occasions.

The nahabatkhana of the Daria Rajmahal Palace, Porbandar had pealed out with joyous music and the auspicious sound of conch shells been blown all over the Palace premises on June 30, 1901 had announced the arrival of the only son of His Highness Maharaja Rana Shri Bhavsinhji Madhavsinhji Sahib Bahadur, the 34-year old Rana Sahib of Porbandar by his third wife, Her Highness Maharani Bama Sahib Ramba Kunverba Sahiba.

The newborn scion of the royal family was named Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji. He was enrolled, in due time, at Rajkumar College, Rajkot, a popular and exclusive seminary for the children of many royal families of the state of Gujarat in the contemporary period. It is said that Natwarsinhji had stood first in the Diploma Examination for all Princes Colleges in British India.

When Maharajah Bhavsinhji Madhavsinhji passed away on December 10, 1908 at the relatively early age of 41, seven-year-old Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji succeeded to the title. He was installed on the gadi at Huzoor Palace, Porbandar, the day after. In view of his extreme youth, the incumbent to the title was required to reign initially under the guidance of a Council of Regency, and was only granted full ruling powers on January 26, 1920, upon coming of age. In recognition of his services in World War I, he was granted the hereditary territorial title of Maharaja by the British rulers of India at the time.

By all accounts, the new Maharaja proved to be an able and benevolent administrator, interested in the collective development of his area. He was responsible for the setting up of the textile manufacturing facility known as Maharana Mills by granting Nanji Kalidas Mehta the title to the site on which the industry was established. He was commissioned as an Honorary Captain of the British Army on July 4, 1941 and served in World War II from 1941 to 1945, being promoted first as Honorary Major (August 15, 1945) and later as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel (October 15, 1946).

The Maharaja of Porbandar signed the deed of accession to the Dominion of India on August 15, 1947, and merged his territories with the United State of Kathiawar (or the Saurashtra State) on February 15, 1948. The Government of India amended the Constitution of India on December 28, 1971. The move terminated his position as a Ruler and his right to receive any privy-purse payments. Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji, then, was the last (the 185th generation from the progenitor of the line) in the line of the hereditary rulers of Porbandar.

An accomplished and refined man, well-educated and erudite, the Maharaja of Porbandar was the author of such titles as From the Flow of Life (1967), India s Problems: Reflections of an Ex-Ruler (1970), and International Solidarity (1975), among others. An aficionado of Western classical music, his musical talentwas the inspiration behind his being a co-composer of the waltz Oriental Moon (1930).

The Maharaja was also a cricketer, and his profile shows him as having played 6 First-Class matches between 1931-32 and 1932-33, scoring 42 runs with a highest of 22 and an average of 6. He is not seen to have bowled or taken any catches at First-Class level.

A long-standing member of the exclusive (and somewhat snobbish) Roshanara Club of Delhi, the 31-year old Porbandar played his first senior cricket match (it turned out to also be his First-Class debut) for the Club against the Viceroy s XI at the Club ground at Delhi. Interestingly, and very much in keeping with the norms of the times, both teams were captained by royal personages, Club team by Porbandar and the Viceroy s XI by the Maharaja of Patiala.

The drawn match was lit up on the second day by an electric fifth-wicket stand of 189 runs between Duleep (173, bringing back vivid memories of the same score that he had achieved in the Lord s Test against the visiting Australians in 1930) and Iftikhar Ali Khan, the senior Nawab of Pataudi (run out for 91).Porbandar s contributions in the game were 22 and 7. Amar Singh s efforts with the ball on behalf of the Club (7 for 36 and 4 for 92 in a truncated innings where only 7 wickets went down) may have had an effect on events that were to follow, and about which we will speak of later.

As with the scions of the other royal families of India in those days, Porbandar married at a relatively young age, the selected bride being Rupaliba Kunverba Sahib, eldest daughter of Colonel His Highness Thakore Sahib Shri Sir Daulatsinhji Jasvatsinhji Sahib Bahadur, Thakore Sahib of Limbdi, the wedding being solemnised on February 5, 1920, shortly after his coming of age and being invested with full ruling powers. The bride just happened to be the sister of another member of royal blood with an interest in cricket.

The course of the present narrative therefore shifts temporarily to Limbdi, a princely state ruled by descendants of the Jhala dynasty in the state of Gujarat, India. The Jhalas are a clan of Rajputs who claim to be of the Suryavanshi lineage and are considered to be descended from one Harpaldev of Halvad and his wife Shakti Devi in the 12th century. It is said that of the 19 sons of Harpaldev, the second, Manguji, forms the direct link in the lineage. Limbdi is believed to have been founded as a Second class state in about 1500, and the royal personages were entitled to a nine-gun salute on state occasions.

Among the 34th generation from the founder of the royal family was Sri Ghanshyamsinhji Daulatsinhji Sahib, the 4th and youngest son of Colonel His Highness Maharana Shri Sir Daulatsinhji Jasvantsinhji Sahib Bahadur, Thakore Sahib of Limbdi and his wife Jadeji Rani Shri Balubha Kunverba Sahiba.

Known as KS Limbdi in his later years, Ghanshyamsinhji was born on October 23, 1902 at Jamnagar. He was educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot and Leys School, Cambridge, an independent English school for pupils between the ages of 11 and 18. In British India, he held several administrative posts, being a Member of the Council of Administration (1941-1942), Member of the Council of Regency (1947-1948) and as the Guardian of the minor Thakur Sri Chhatrasalji in 1941. He was also a Member of the Bombay Natural History Society in 1947. Well, he was also a First-Class cricketer.

Regretfully, there are no records of his playing cricket during his schooldays, and the first mention of his name in a published scorecard comes from a game between Crescent Club of Lahore and the Western Indian States, in the quarter-final of the Delhi Tournament of 1930-31, played at the Roshanara Club Ground, Delhi. The 28-year old Limbdi is seen to have given a fair account of himself by scoring 62 (the second-highest score in a team total of 374 for 9 declared) in a drawn game.

In the semi-final of the same tournament, Limbdi acquitted himself well with scores of 52 and 60* against Rajputana at the same venue, Western India States winning by 259 runs. The final of the tournament against Sind proved to be a hurdle as Sind won the game by an innings and 52 runs. Limbdi had scores of 6 (out of a total of 66 where only one man was in double figures) and 33 (top score in a total of 112).

In between, Limbdi made his First-Class debut playing for and, indeed, captaining Rest of India against the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram s XI at Roshanara Club Ground. The Maharajkumar s team won the game by the handsome margin of 193 runs. It may be mentioned here that the Maharajkumar s innings had been opened by Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe and had been backed up by CK Nayudu and Mushtaq Ali in the middle order. Limbdi s contributions were 25 and 2.

In a First-Class career spanning 1930-31 to 1942-43, Kumar Shri Limbdi played 19 matches scoring 505 runs with a highest of 57 (his only fifty) and an average of 17.41. He also held 11 catches.

The history of Indian tours to England is an interesting one and the earliest attempts had been made by the Parsee community who had taken to cricket rather early, forming their own Oriental Cricket Club in 1848, and playing their first match against Bombay Gymkhana.

In 1878, there was an initiative on the part of AB Patel to take a team to England, the plan failing when Patel became involved in a libel suit. Shortly afterwards, the indefatigable Patel managed to rope in BB Baria and Dr Dhunjishaw Patel in another attempt to tour England. This time, the plan proved to be successful, and the first ever Indian team, comprising only amateur Parsee cricketers (each man paying his own fare and upkeep), made the trip to the Mother Country in 1886 under the captaincy of Dr Patel, playing 28 games in all in a three-month long tour, winning only 1 (against Normanhurst), drawing 8, and losing 19. It must be mentioned, however, that none of the matches played on the tour were of First-Class status. The ball, however, had been set rolling.

This was followed in 1888 by the second Indian cricket foray to England, again in the form of a team of Parsees. The team s performance this time was a vast improvement on that of their predecessors of 1886. The 1888 team played 32 matches in all, winning 8 games, drawing 19, and losing 11, while 3 games had to be abandoned. On this tour also, as in the last, there were no First-Class games played.

Writing in Wisden India, Mohandas Menon mentions two failed attempts (in 1904 and 1910) before an Indian team was able to make the first official tour to England in 1911, the tour this time involving matches against First-Class teams and the games being attributed First-Class status. The original 17-member team was to be led by the young and talented 19-year old Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. There were two late withdrawals from the party, and the 15-man team played 14 First-Class matches on the tour, winning 2, losing 10 and drawing 2. The trend, then, had been set.

February 1927 was to be an important month as far as cricket in India was concerned. From an organisational point of view, cricket in India began to take on a definite form when a meeting was convened at Delhi, the attendees being Patiala, a British businessman named Grant Govan, de Mello, and English cricketer Arthur Gilligan, captain of the English team that had toured India in 1926-27. During the meeting Gilligan had put forward the suggestion that it would be in the interests of Indian cricket if all the governing bodies of the local cricketing sides of India were to come together under the head of a single forum.

The suggestion had been well received and another meeting had been convened at Delhi on November 21, 1927, attended by about 45 delegates from all round India. Cricket representatives from Sind, Punjab, Patiala, Delhi, the United Provinces, Rajputana, Alwar, Bhopal, Gwalior, Baroda, Kathiawar and Central India had all met to discuss the proposed formation of a centralised controlling body for cricket in India.

At a further meeting on December 10, by unanimous consent, a provisional Board of Control was formed to represent cricket in India. By late 1928, local Cricket Associations had been formed for Southern Punjab, Bengal, Assam, Madras, and Northern India. The Provisional Board had then met at Bombay in December during the Quadrangular Tournament and a Board of Control for Cricket in India was formally launched, with Govan as the first President and de Mello as the first Secretary.

The 1930s were troubled times in India from a political point of view. A proposed English tour of India scheduled for the winter of 1930-31 had to be cancelled in the face of widespread incidents of civil disobedience in connection with a move for self-rule in India.

Altering their plans, MCC thought it more prudent to invite India over to England for another cricket tour in 1931. Because of the lack of time in preparing for the tour, the venture was postponed till 1932, the final confirmation of the date coming on August 31, 1931.

There was to be a new and momentous twist to this, the fourth tour of England by an Indian team. Although history records that India had been theoretically accorded Test status at the second session of the Imperial Cricket Conference conclave of 1926 held at The Oval in England (along with West Indies and New Zealand, all three nations being accorded the status of full members), this was to be the first Test-playing tour for India, and an Indian team was to take the field in a Test for the very first time.

Preparations for the tour began at a frenzied pace. Given the backdrop of political upheaval in India during this time, with Gandhi undertaking the salt satyagraha, the Bombay Quadrangular had, perforce, to be suspended, giving the selectors no opportunity to gauge the current form of the players likely to make the trip to England. Under the circumstances, it was thought prudent to arrange for a series of trial games to allow players to prove their credentials. Protesting against the idea of playing cricket in England during a phase of political disagreement with the English administration, the Hindu Gymkhana refused to send a team to Punjab for the trial games.

After prolonged deliberations, it was decided to arrange for four trial matches, two at Patiala (the Maharaja had generously volunteered to arrange for these games), and two at Lahore. The first of these games was a three-day, 12-a-side game played at Patiala between Vizzy s team and LImbdi s team. Vizzy s team won by 11 wickets. There were four debutants in the game, CS Nayudu, Lall Singh (born at Kuala Lumpur), Peter Pereira, and Yadavindrasingh, the Yuvraj of Patiala, destined to have a dominating presence in Indian cricket in later years. Limbdi scored 57 and 36.

The next game, also a 12-a-side affair, was played between Patiala s team and Pataudi s team. The drawn game was a relatively low-scoring encounter, the highest team total being 265. Pataudi himself scored a measured 77. Mohammad Nissar, playing for Patiala s team, gave notice of his potential by taking 5 for 57. Not to be outdone, CS Nayudu (5 for 58) took his second five-wicket haul in the Patiala 2nd innings.

The scene then shifted to Lawrence Gardens, Lahore, where a 12-a-side game began between the Probables against the Possibles (not a very inspired choice of names, one would be forced to admit). It was another relatively low-scoring game that the Possibles won by 8 wickets. Naoomal Jaoomal remained undefeated on 100 in the last innings of the game, and Nissar (6 for 68) picked up his second five-wicket haul in successive matches. Shankarrao Godambe (6 for 44) shone with the ball for Possibles.

The last of the trial matches was between India and Rest of India. India won the match by a handsome margin of 153 runs, and Jahangir Khan made a very good impression with 6 for 41. Nissar enhanced his rapidly growing reputation with this third five-wicket haul (6 for 54 for India) in successive matches.. The only other standout performance was the century by Wazir Ali of Rest (107*).

With the trial games out of the way, it was now time to select the touring party. Vijay Merchant was not under consideration, being a member of the Hindu Gymkhana that had boycotted the trial games; nor was his idol, the supremely talented LP Jai.

KS Ranjitsinhji, the Chairman of Selectors (the other selectors being Ahsan-ul-Haq, Limbdi, and Vizzy), prevented his nephew Duleep from participating in the tour. Pataudi made himself unavailable on short notice, ostensibly because he was not in line for a position of responsibility in the touring group.

The next important issue under consideration was the choice of captain. Given the various factions within the framework of Indian cricket at the time, often at loggerheads with one another, the first thought was of sending one of three Englishmen already playing cricket in India, AL Hosie, CP Johnstone, or RB Lagden, as skipper. The idea was soon scrapped when BCCI decided to send an Indian as the captain.

Patiala, now in his 40s, was the initial unanimous choice for the captaincy role, with Limbdi as vice-captain. Vizzy, who was reported to have been prepared to underwrite the expenses for the tour to the tune of 40,000 from his own enormous personal fortune, was selected as deputy vice-captain , a selection that did not go down well with the Maharajkumar, who had felt that his projected portfolio was not commensurate with his royal stature. The selectors announced the names of the 15 members in addition to the three senior appointees on February 4, 1932.

Barely two weeks before the tour was to get underway Patiala, the captain-designate, made himself unavailable, citing health issues. He was soon followed by Vizzy, who cited poor health and loss of form. As late as March 15, Porbandar was selected as skipper for the tourists, with Jahangir being drafted into the squad to replace Vizzy. It may be mentioned here that Porbandar (who was married to the eldest sister of KS Limbdi), had made only one solitary First-Class appearance prior to this, scoring 22 and 7. It must be added, however, that the remaining 15 members of the team were selected strictly on cricketing ability.

Standing on the deck of the ship conveying the team to England, Porbandar is reported to have said: Au revoir, India, we shall bring you laurels as you wish us to. Limbdi was not aboard the mail ship Strathnaver with the rest of the squad when it sailed from Bombay on April 2. Not to make too much of a secret of it, it may be stated that Limbdi was to be married to Rajendra Kunverba Sahiba of the royal family of Kalsia in April 1932. He later made his way to England from Bombay in the end of April.

The vessel docked at Marseilles on April 15, from where the tour party made their way across France by train, arriving at Victoria Station, London, the next afternoon. Their London headquarters was at the Midland Grand Hotel, St Pancras. With the touring Indian team arriving in England, Evening Standard thought it fit to make the following comment: No politics, no caste, just cricket. This is the unofficial slogan of the cricket team that has come from India after a lapse of 21 years. There has never been such a team of contrasts meeting on the common footing of cricket. The 18 players speak eight to 10 languages among them and belong to four or five different castes.

The story of the first Test-playing tour of England by an Indian team has been told and retold by several scholars over the years and we need not go into the fine details of it in this narrative. Suffice it to state that only one Test was played on the tour, fittingly, at Lord s, from June 25, 1932. The story of how England, under Douglas Jardine, had been 19 for 3 (with Percy Holmes, Herbert Sutcliffe, and Frank Woolley all cooling their heels in the pavilion) early on the first day, but had still gone on to win the match by 158 runs has been recounted too many times for repetition here.

Apart from all 11 Indians, the other debutant in the game was Bill Bowes for England. While the Indian bowlers, Nissar, Amar Singh, and Jahangir, in particular had been able to give a reasonable account of themselves, the batting had not been up to Test standard. Only skipper CK Nayudu (40 in the first innings) and Amar Singh (51 in the second) had been able to make significant contributions with the willow.

Let us, then, take a look at the performances of skipper Porbandar and vice-captain Limbdi in the other games on the tour. Porbandar played 4 First-Class games on the England tour of 1932, and his scores were: 0, 2, and 0. He also played 3 Second-Class games on the tour, for which his scores were 0, 2, 2, and 2. In all, therefore, Porbandar scored a grand total of 2 runs from his 4 First-Class matches and 6 runs from his 3 Second-Class games. All of these games were played before the Test got underway. Being a realistic man, Porbandar soon realised that he was a liability in a team about to play its first Test. To his credit, he stood down for the Test, stating that doctors had advised him rest after a bout of malaria.

Limbdi played 4 First-Class matches before the Test began, scoring 2, 11, 0, 1, and 11. That gives a total of 25 runs from 5 innings. He did a little better in the 4 Second-Class games in the same period, his scores being 46 (top-score of the innings), 1, 4, 35, and 100 (retired out). It was said at the time that he had damaged his back while compiling his century against the Eastern Counties in the last game before the Test began. Well, that gave him a legitimate reason for sitting out the Test match.

With both Porbandar (captain) and Limbdi (vice-captain) out of the Test, the responsibility of captaining India s first Test match fell on the 36-year old Colonel CK Nayudu, a man of proven cricketing credentials and fitter than many others in the squad . Wisden chose him as one of the five cricketers that year. The nomination of CK Nayudu as skipper, however, was not without problems of its own.

Deeply seeped in a feudal mind-set going back many hundreds of years in Indian history, coupled with the colonial influence of the last almost 200 years, the commoners of the 18-man squad were not easy in their own minds about the propriety of a commoner leading the team for such an important match. There was, however, another twist to the tale in this case. Stories are told of how the Porbandar was awakened by a knock on his door at about 4 AM to find a group of his agitated players expressing their unwillingness to play under Nayudu, the protest coming in the early morning of the scheduled first day of the inaugural Test for India.

It was said that CK Nayudu, a strict disciplinarian, had taken exception at the lack of self-discipline exhibited by some of the players on the tour, and had made it clear that he would not, in his capacity of captain, tolerate any laxity on that count, even threatening to exclude the guilty from the proposed team.Indeed, Edward Docker, in his 1976 book History of Indian Cricket, mentions the following: The reports reaching India told of drunkenness and late hours and alleged that when CK tried to call some of them to order and threatened them out of the Test match if they didn t improve, fist fights had broken out and CK had been angrily abused.

This was a situation that would have tested the sang-froid of the most seasoned man-manager. Cables were sent flying back and forth in a frenzy of anxiety, and it was only anincoming message from India on behalf of the influential Maharaja of Patiala that succeeded in defusing the situation in the last possible minute, and allowed India to keep her tryst with her cricket destiny on 25 Jun/1932.

Only four of the Indians totalled over 1,000 runs on the tour, as follows:

Batsman Matches Runs HS Average 100s
CK Nayudu 26 1618 162 40.45 5
Naoomal Jaoomal 26 1297 164* 30.88 2
Wazir Ali 23 1229 178 32.34 4
Nazir Ali 20 1020 109 31.87 1

Among the bowlers, there were 4 players with more than 50 wickets on the tour, as follows:

Bowler Matches Wickets Best Average SR
Amar Singh 22 111 8/90 20.37 57.42
Mohammad Nissar 18 71 6/32 18.09 44.95
CK Nayudu 26 65 5/21 25.53 61.63
Jahangir Khan 21 53 4/48 29.05 84.26

The Indian tourists departed from Victoria Station via the boat-train on September 18, took the Channel ferry, and then travelled overland by train to Marseilles. From there they boarded the P & O liner, the Viceroy of India on September 22. They finally reached Bombay on October 3.

Replying to a message of goodwill from the King of England at the conclusion of the tour, Porbandar, known more his oratorical skills than his cricketing abilities, is reported to have said: The gracious hope of His Majesty that we have enjoyed our time here has been abundantly fulfilled. We are gratified at the measure of success achieved and our enjoyment has stood the test of the strenuous, non-stop work of the English cricket season. The greatest kindness has been shown us on every hand and we shall retain the happiest recollections of British hospitality and sportsmanship. I cherish the hope that an All-England team will visit India in the cold weather season of 1933-34, as diplomatic a response to the royal message as can be imagined.

Back home, life gradually returned to normalcy for both Porbandar and Limbdi. The first wife of Porbandar, Her Highness Rani Shri Rupaliba Kunverba Sahib, eldest sister of Limbdi, passed away on October 26, 1943 without leaving behind any issue.

On June 12, 1941, Porbandar had adopted the son of Rana Shri Shivsinhji Motiji Sahib Jethwa of Shrinagar as his son and successor. The successor, born at Shrinagar on October 6, 1910, was given the ceremonial name Patvi Namdar Maharajkumar Shri Udaybhansinhji Natwarsinhji Sahib, Yuvraj Sahib of Porbandar.

Porbandar was married a second time on November 20, 1954, this time to Anantkunverba Sahib (nee Annie G Job, former wife of AEA de Silva of Colombo). His second marriage also failed to produce an heir, his second wife passing away at London on December 5, 1989. Porbandar himself passed away at Anant Niwas, Khambala, on November 5, 1979.

Limbdi played his last First-Class match as captain of Western India in a Ranji Trophy game against Sind at Karachi in 1942-43, having just crossed 40. His team won the match by 9 wickets but the skipper s contribution in the victory was a score of 9.

Having received many ceremonial titles, medals, and honours in his lifetime, Shri Ghanshyamsinhji Daulatsinhji Sahib, Kumar Shri of Limbdi, passed away at Bhavnagar on November 10, 1964.

The passing of the two royal personages in charge of the historic Indian tourists to England for the 1932 tour brought a graceful curtain down on the epic story of India s inaugural Test match.