Surrey's Indian adventures - Butcher - Kia Oval Skip to main content

When England embark on their Test series against India this week, it will be a chance for Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope to write new chapters in their careers.

Richard Spiller will look back to the experiences of four Surrey predecessors – Douglas Jardine, Micky Stewart, Geoff Arnold and Mark Butcher – on previous tours over the next month. After Jardine, Stewart & Arnold in recent weeks, he ends today with Butcher.

2001-02: Second Test, Ahmedabad.

Beaten by 10 wickets in the opening match at Mohali, England were being tipped for a repeat of the whitewash which befell them on their previous tour nine years earlier under Graham Gooch.

The portents were hardly promising. Hammered 4-1 by Australia in the previous summer’s Ashes, Nasser Hussain’s men were missing a clutch of experienced players for a variety of reasons, two more dropping out over safety concerns following the 9-11 attack on New York. Mark Butcher, speaking from quarantine during the current tour, recalls it wasn’t just the cricket which was testing.

MB: We got used to having armed soldiers in our hotel corridors and having to plan every trip out of the hotel. In some ways it was a good preparation for the current situation, where everything is very organised and regimented by necessity.

Two Surrey players were omitted from the Mohali Test, Graham Thorpe flying home for personal reasons – replaced by Michael Vaughan – and seamer Jimmy Ormond superseded by fit again left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, although Mark Ramprakash remained in the side.

Hussain’s rare success at winning the toss gave England first use of the pitch, openers Marcus Trescothick (99) and Butcher (51) putting on 124 but the tourists needing Craig White’s 121 – his only Test century, adding 95 for the seventh wicket with wicketkeeper James Foster – to reach 407 all out. Leg-spinner Anil Kumble finished with 7-115 from 51 overs.

MB: Craig White was a very under-rated cricketer and he played a really important knock. It was an incredibly flat pitch – we thought our best chance of winning the series was going to be winning the first game but we’d been heavily beaten, so we were up against it.

India’s reply of 291 was built around Sachin Tendulkar’s 103, although there was controversy over England’s tactics, Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher devising a strategy to frustrate the ‘Little Master’ by having Giles bowl outside leg stump. It certainly frustrated Tendulkar although he still only needed 197 deliveries while VVS Laxman made 75.

MB: The idea was to stick it up his backside. There were a few arguments about it, like ‘why don’t you try and get him out when he comes in’ etc. We let Nasser cop the heat! It worked to an extent because Tendulkar got so fed up with it in the next Test that he ran down the pitch and was stumped, which was the only time that happened in his career.

Still limping slightly following ankle surgery, Giles claimed 5-67 from his 43.3 overs and England went in again late on day three to build on a lead of 116. This time Butcher made 92 but making headway against Kumble and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh – both county colleagues of the future – was made more complicated by a stomach bug. But for Butcher it was yet more confirmation that he had cemented his place in Test cricket, having been recalled the previous summer and making a glorious match-winning 173no against Australia at Headingley.

MB: There was a lot of illness on that tour and I was feeling pretty rough. It was disappointing to miss out on a century after working so hard. That was quite a turnaround year for me. I’d had a poor run and started the season playing for Surrey second team but I got back into the England side in the summer through quite a few injuries and by playing quite well again.

Hussain (50) and Vaughan (31) pushed England up to 257 all out, Harbhajan this time the main danger with 5-71, although Hussain was criticised for being over-cautious in leaving India just over a day to make 374 for victory.

They made no attempt at the target, batting out the day at 198-3. Despite getting the better of things again at Bangalore, dreadful weather left a draw inevitable to give India a 1-0 series victory.