Surrey's Indian adventures - Jardine - 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. He starts today with Douglas Jardine.

1933-34: First Test, Bombay

England had beaten India in their maiden Test at Lord’s in the summer of 1932 and now embarked on their maiden tour to the subcontinent.

It was a trip on which making friends was deemed as important as results, which perhaps made MCC’s choice of Douglas Jardine as captain somewhat unlikely.

Surrey’s skipper had been the man who enraged Australia – quite deliberately for much of the time – the previous winter when he unleashed a barrage of short-pitched bowling, which he described as “leg theory” but which was dubbed Bodyline.

As a method of quelling the genius of Donald Bradman, and thus winning back the Ashes, that proved highly successful even if kicked off a mighty row almost threatened the cohesion of the British Empire. Jardine showed his mettle against the West Indies in the 1933 summer when West Indies briefly adopted the same tactics, making 127 at Old Trafford. And he relished a return to India, having been born in Bombay (now Mumbai).

The venue for the opening Test was the Bombay Gymkhana club, who had to suspend their rule that the only Indians allowed into their clubhouse were servants to avoid the home side being refused admission. England provided the umpires, which included former Surrey fast bowler Bill Hitch.

A crowd of 50,000 saw the hosts, fielding five debutants, dismissed for 219 with one of the quintet Lala Amarnath – who would go on to become one of Indian cricket’s great figures – top-scorer with 38. There were three wickets apiece for Stan Nichols, James Langridge and Hedley Verity, Yorkshire’s left-arm spinner the only member off Jardine’s Bodyline attack.

Also missing some of their leading batsmen, England’s reply was headed by opener Cyril Walters (78) but it was 25-year-old debutant Bryan Valentine, one of two new faces in the team, who took the starring role in making 136. His 145-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Jardine (60) ensured the tourists amassed 438, Mohammad Nissar claiming 5-90.

Amarnath became the second debutant of the match to score a century when India batted again, making 118, but India could only reach 258 as Essex speedster Nichols (5-55) and Northamptonshire’s Nobby Clark (3-69) did the damage. England were left needing 40, which they knocked off to win by nine wickets.

They went on to win the three-match series 2-0 but it proved the end of Jardine’s international career. Test captain since 1931, he knew the English authorities were apprehensive about what might happen if he were to lead England in the following summer’s Ashes renewal. MCC had already announced a change in the laws of the game aimed at preventing intimidatory bowling.

Jardine, whose availability for Surrey had often been interrupted by business commitments, announced he would be unavailable, handing over the county captaincy to Errol Holmes, and had played his final first-class match.