English tours are never without some drama

2006 Feb 19 by DreamCricket

From food poisoning to assassinations, player indiscipline to removing shirts, England's tours of India are never without a touch of controversy.

England's tours of India have rarely been free of controversy. Here is a list of some of the stormiest incidents:

1972-73: Captain: Tony Lewis. India 2/1.

England sent a second-string team as had been the practice right from the 1950s. Lewis had never played a Test match before this tour.

For the first time, the tourists were guarded by heavy security following death threats from the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). This just a few months after the massacre of Israeli sportspersons at the Munich Olympics.

1976-77: Captain: Tony Greig. England 3/1.

England's victory was marred by allegations from Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi that England's pace bowlers, particularly debutant John Lever had used Vaseline on the ball to make it swing. Lever was the most successful bowler and he and the team management have continued to deny the allegations for three decades.

1980: Captain: Mike Brearley. England won by 10 wickets

England made a short trip on the way back from Australia for the one-off Golden Jubilee Test at Mumbai, commemorating 50 years of the BCCI. India were led for the second and final time by GR Viswanath. He withdrew the appeal after Bob Taylor had been given out caught behind. Taylor and Ian Botham rescued England from 58 for 5 and spoilt the host's birthday bash.

1981-82: Captain: Keith Fletcher. India 1-0

The tour was almost cancelled by the Indian government due to links between opener Geoffrey Boycott and apartheid South Africa. However, Boycott's public condemnation of the racial system saw Prime Minister Indira Gandhi giving it the green signal. Ironically, Boycott and others throughout the tour were hatching plans to take a rebel England side to South Africa. Boycott was sent home after being caught playing golf during the Calcutta Test, having skipped the day's play as he claimed he was unwell.

1984-85: Captain: David Gower. England 2/1

The day the side landed in New Delhi, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards. The players were stuck in their hotel while the city burned. They then flew to Sri Lanka for a few days. On their return, another tragedy struck on the morning of the opening Test at Mumbai. British High Commissioner Percy Norris, who had hosted the team the night before, was gunned down by a terrorist.

1988-89: Tour cancelled. Captain: Graham Gooch.

The tour was cancelled as the Indian government refused to grant visas to eight of the team, including captain Gooch as they were on a UN blacklist for having played in South Africa.

1992-93: Captain: Graham Gooch. India 3/0.

This tour had it all. It began with the nation in turmoil following events in Ayodhaya. This forced the cancellation of the first ODI at Ahmedabad. Due to a strike by Indian Airlines' pilots, the tourists had to travel by train for the first few weeks. The Englishmen came under heavy criticism from their own media for their sloppy appearance off the field. On the field, they were whitewashed 3-0. Chairman of selectors Ted Dexter blamed the smog in Calcutta for the first Test trouncing. Then captain Gooch and Mike Gatting were forced to miss the second Test at Chennai due to food poisoning apparently brought on by eating too much prawns.

2001-02: Captain: Nasser Hussain. India 1/0.

The tour was almost cancelled due to security fears following the 9/11 attacks in the US. Hussain's negative tactics, bordering on Bodyline, to bottle up Sachin Tendulkar was attacked in the British media. Andrew Flintoff tearing off his shirt and charging round the field at the Wankhede Stadium after England won the final ODI to level the series would have repercussions a few months later in England.