First Cricket Tour of Team India

I was wondering when Team India played their first cricket match so I googled and came to know that India played their first Test match in 1932 at Lord’s but that wasn’t the first tour of Indian Cricket Team. First 'All-India' cricket team went on their official tour of England in 1911.They only played against English County teams and not the national England cricket team but that was a historic tour in every sense.

The most interesting part of this tour was its unthinkable assemblage of team members. The team’s flamboyant Sikh captain, Maharaja Bhupindersingh was the newly enthroned ruler of one of the biggest Indian princely states - Patiala. Its star bowler - Palvankar Baloo and his brother Shivram Palvankar were from an "untouchable" caste, the lowest community of Hindu Society. The rest of the team belonged to different religious communities like Hindu, Muslim Sikh and Parsi.

Seven member selection committee was formed after couple of failed attempts and had the very difficult task of choosing the team as local teams were formed on the communal or regional lines during that time. The team was sponsored by several ruling princes and merchant houses.

Here are the names of Team members

-His Highness Bhupinder Singh of Patiala
-Manek Pallon Bajana
-Maneksha Dadabhai Bulsara
-His Highness Shiwajirao Gaekwad of Baroda
-Bangalore Jayaram
-Dr. Hormasaji Damodarrao Pai
-Balkrishna "Baloo" Palwankar
-Shivaram Palwankar
-Rushtomji Perozsha Meherhomji
-Col. Kekhashuru Maneksha Mistry
-Hormasji Furdungi Mulla
-Salam-ud-din Khan
-Kilvidi Sechachari
-Shafkat Hussain
-Syed Hussain
-Jehangir Sorabji Warden

The team played total 23 matches, won 6, lost 15 and 2 were drawn. Baloo Palwankar was the star of the team, taking 114 wickets at an average of 18.84. The historian Ramchandra Guha has said, "He received several offers to stay in England and play as a professional but he chose to come back." Later, he became friends with Bhimrao Ambedkar and fought for the rights of untouchables.

Another interesting fact about that team was its member Shafkat Hussain - one-eyed player who played official cricket way before Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was born.

Famous Historian Dr. Prasanth Kidambi whose research on 1911 cricket team is featured in Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack, noted that, "Educated Indians followed the progress of the team with great interest. As one might expect, the interest in Bombay was high but educated middle class people in other major cities - especially Culcutta and Madras - also took an interest in the doings of the Indian Cricketers."

The loses may have hurt but there’s no denying the historical importance of the tour and the formation of the first independent 'All Indian' team competing against other Test playing nations.

Pic courtsey : Wisden

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