Debuting in India: A Short History

England's batsman Haseeb bats on the fifth day of the first cricket test match between India and England in Rajkot, India, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Haseeb Hameed has shown in three Tests a level that not many could have realistically expected from a 19 year old in his first series. He joins a long list of players who have made their debut in India and Keaton Jennings will be hoping to do the same in Mumbai on the 8th of December. Since India’s rise in status as a Test team in the 1970s, playing in the subcontinent has become one of the most unique challenges for batsmen from around the world. Batting in India is to enter the domain of some of the game’s greatest spinners from Bishan Bedi and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar to Anil Kumble and Ravi Ashwin. This spin challenge is made tougher by the weather and atmosphere, on and off the field, which is alien to most players who arrive from England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Caribbean. Touring India is therefore tough for even the most experienced batsmen, which means that those who are chosen to debut in the country are often exceptional talents who go on to have stellar Test careers.

In the 1960s India were not the same beast as they are now. However, when the West Indies toured in the winter of 1966 the team they faced did include the spinners Venkataraghavan and Chandrasekhar who would continue to be an important part of the excellent 70s side. It was in this tour that a 23 year old Clive Lloyd made his Test debut, coming into the side for Seymour Nurse who had a finger injury. The West Indies won the three match series 2-0 with Lloyd making a significant impact on the first Test in Mumbai (then Bombay). The West Indies gained a healthy first innings lead of 125 in no small part down to Lloyd’s 82. However, it was in the second innings that Lloyd made the greatest impression, as his team faced a tricky chase of 192 on a spinning pitch, his score of 78* and unbeaten stand of 102 with Garry Sobers eased West Indies to victory after wickets from Chandrasekhar left them feeling nervous on 90-4. Lloyd’s superb match winning debut was elegantly summed up in Wisden;

“The performance of this bespectacled left-hander, who hit the ball with great power off the back foot, and the all-round brilliance of Sobers and Holford were the highlights of West Indies’ victory against defiant opposition.”

This performance was enough to secure his place when Seymour came back into the side for the second Test at Eden Gardens where a riot on New Year’s Day could not interrupt the West Indies wining by an innings and 45 runs, largely inspired by the bowling of Lance Gibbs and Garry Sobers, with Lloyd scoring just 5.

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Rain may be the only obstacle to Durham’s promotion push

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The fixtures for Durham’s first Division 2 campaign since 2005 made miserable reading for the county’s supporters. Trips to Derbyshire and Leicestershire were the last thing on the mind of Durham’s players following their magnificent, hard fought win against Surrey at the Riverside which secured survival. Following the ECB’s draconian sanctions which have seen the club relegated, Durham now face a steep task to secure promotion as they begin the new season on -48 points.

However, all is not lost in the North East. Durham have the stand out squad in the second Division with opening bowlers Chris Rushworth and Graham Onions being arguably the best in the country. Further experience is brought by captain and club legend Paul Collingwood who extended his contract for another year to help Durham cope with the loss of star batsmen Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick. With these stalwarts alongside some incredibly promising young players – such as Keaton Jennings, Jack Burnham, Paul and Josh Coughlin, Adam Hickey, Brydon Carse and Barry McCarthy – Durham will go into every Championship game this season as favourites and expecting victory.

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