As the Indians arrive on our shores for their brief visit, let us glance back to 1932, when the first Indian side to play a Test Match in England (there had been an earlier tour in 1911) dropped in at Kettering to play Northamptonshire from the 4th to the 7th of what appears to have been a rather chilly June.
Among the crowd was my mother’s father (on the far right of the picture in the front row). A very tall man (about 6’6″) with legs like a stork, he opened the bowling for Kettering in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties. Here we see him resting his feet on the boundary fence, while grappling with the difficult task of smoking and applauding at the same time (in a posture I have often adopted myself).
I think I am correct in saying that the man in the turban in the back row is Capt. (later Major) Sardar Joginder Singh Baidwan. He played in 8 of the 32 matches on the tour, and seems to have been a decent cricketer. He was also the Commander of the Rajindra Lancers, and acted as ADC to the original captain of the tour, the Maharaja of Paliala. When Paliala dropped out through illness, he may have played the same role to his (largely non-playing) replacement, the Maharajah of Porbander.
The photograph presumably shows the Northamptonshire openers coming out to bat on the first day of the match, in which case they are Fred Bakewell and John Timms.
Bakewell was described by R.C. Robertson-Glasgow as –
“Nature without veneer ; he feared neither tradition nor bowlers, and he hated convention as a boy hates tight collars and polite talk … he remained the boy who just wouldn’t touch his cap to the important visitor. The artistry was always there, waiting to be uncovered, but among the bright colours there lurked a dull thread of negligence, even apathy. Neither his own temperament nor external comment could always make him care; but when his mind and fortunes were warm, he could have batted with Bradman on not uneven terms.”
Bakewell played six times for England, but, as with Colin Milburn, whom he in many ways resembled, he should have played more often.
Northamptonshire’s other England player of this period was the Captain and Secretary Vallance Jupp (“Of a rough and pentrating humour … under the rock I have not found a kinder man” – R.C. R-G) who, in this match, was involved in a curious incident. 3 not out overnight after the second day, he failed to arrive at the ground on time in the third, and the umpire (Frank Chester) refused to allow him to resume his innings. He appears on the scorecard as “Retired out”. I can find no record of how he – or the crowd – reacted to this.
By unfortunate coincidence, I see that Joginder Singh died in a car crash in 1940, at the age of 42. Bakewell’s career ended in August 1936 when he was being driven home from Chesterfield after scoring 241 in the last match of the season against that season’s Champions, Derbyshire. The car, driven by his opening partner Reggie Northway, came off the A6 as it passed through Kibworth. Northway was killed and Bakewell’s arm damaged so badly that he never played again.
Vallance Jupp was also involved in an unfortunate incident involving a motor car. He missed the 1934 and 1935 seasons, having been sentenced to six months in prison for manslaughter, after he ran into a motorcyclist and killed the pillion passenger. Apparently he’d been driving on the wrong side of the road.
Having their best players variously incapacitated, in prison or dead cannot have improved Northamptonshire’s performances during this period. Between 1935 and 1939 they went 99 matches without a victory, and finished last every year between 1934 and 1938.
All of which confirms me in my view that motor cars are nasty, dangerous things and best avoided by all right-thinking folk. My Grandfather, on the other hand, who had been an enthusiastic motorist since the 1920s, was still just about on the roads as late as the 1990s and must, I think, have been one of the last people to drive legitimately without having passed a driving test. Perhaps concerned about the carnage involving Northants cricketers, the Authorities introduced a compulsory test for all new drivers in 1935.