Surrey's Indian adventures - Stewart - 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 starting with Douglas Jardine, he continues this week with Micky Stewart.

1963-64: Second Test, Bombay

Micky Stewart had started the tour in handsome form. Vice-captain to Mike Smith, Surrey’s skipper was determined to win back the Test place he had lost the previous summer during a bruising series against West Indies.

Stewart made 119 and 82 against a President’s XI in Bangalore and, although he missed out in the following match against South Zone, went into the first Test at Madras in confident form.

Unfortunately, the touring party were hit by ill-health during the match, India having made 457-7dec and England ended the second day on a tenuous 63-2.

MS: We had a bug which ran through the team, more than the usual food problems because it was a flu virus. At the start of the next day the dressing room was virtually empty.

Luckily Brian Bolus grafted his way through 415 minutes for 88 and after nightwatchman Don Wilson’s 42 was ended, Ken Barrington made 80 over more than six hours, buying valuable time. Left-arm spinner Bapu Nadkarni’s 32 overs were played out with great care as he conceded just five runs, delivering 27 maidens but failing to break through.

Even then they still needed the sickly Stewart to go in at number 10 with follow-on not saved. His 15 ensured that did not happen.

MS: Fred Titmus said to me ‘let’s not have any of your sharp singles’. Three balls later I was dusting the dirt off me having been sent back after he called for a sharp single and sent me back!

England claimed a draw easily enough but by the time they got to Bombay for the second match, the situation had worsened. Stewart had felt well enough to captain the match against West Zone against Ahmedabad in between Tests but his Surrey colleague Barrington broke a finger and on the journey afterwards illness began to work its way through the squad again.

It meant Stewart’s opening partner at The Oval, John Edrich, was confined to hospital alongside him plus Phil Sharpe and John Mortimore. Tour manager David Clark admitted that they were down to 10 fit men. The former Kent captain himself was one possibility, although by then he had not played at first-class level since 1951 and was almost 44.

The other candidate was Henry Blofeld, covering the tour as a journalist, who had forged an excellent reputation as a young cricketer until a motorcycle accident almost cost him his life.

As it was, Stewart crawled out of his hospital bed and down to the ground, where India had won the toss again. His involvement did not last long.

MS: I reckoned 10% of me was still better than 100% of Henry Blofeld. He had been a fine young player but Test cricket is rather different.

Unfortunately his involvement was short-lived.

MS:I was fielding at short-leg to Fred Titmus and dived for a catch. I landed on the pitch, which was like concrete, and that was the end of my involvement. And my Test career.

Stewart was soon back in hospital, alongside his comrades, and Barrington then joined the quartet.

MS: Kenny didn’t need to be in hospital with a broken finger but he reckoned the food was a thousand times better than what we’d been having. He ended up regretting it. They pulled the curtains round his bed and gave him an enema.

Too unwell to play any further part in the tour, Stewart was unfit to travel for a week travel either and stayed with an English couple before being evacuated. Reinforced by Colin Cowdrey and Peter Parfitt, England drew all five Tests.