Elephant entered the ground; Farokh Engineer recalls 1971 Oval Test
New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) Former cricketer Farokh Engineer recalls Team Inda’s amazing maiden Test win in England at the Oval in 1971 with an interesting story.
Fifty years ago, an elephant, named Bella, was brought to the ground, borrowed from Chessington Zoo, by Indian fans, thinking it would bring them luck. And according to Engineer, the former India wicketkeeper who helped his country to a history-defining series triumph after the first two Tests were drawn, “they (fans) weren’t wrong, were they”.
A Daily Mail report stated that the elephant was brought to the Oval to mark the Ganesha Festival. Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles, and the elephant watched on as Ajit Wadekar’s side smashed down a barrier that had proved insurmountable since their first Test in England back in 1932.
Not that Wadekar himself was paying too much attention. “He was asleep in the dressing room,” Engineer was quoted as saying. “There we were winning the most important game in the’country’s history, and he was having a s’ooze! I’m amazed the cr’wd didn’t wake him up. There can’t have been any other Indians left in London – they were all at the Oval!”
It was a breakthrough that changed the cours’ of India’s cricket history.
“I got £1 a day for the England tour, so for winning at the Oval I got £5 for the five days”” he said. “You hardly played cricket to become rich back then. Mind you, when I played Test matches in India, I got 50 rupees a day, something like 50p a day.
“Forget the money, though, that series played a massive part in turning Indian cricket into what it is today. Suddenly all the players on that tour returned home as superstars. They were at the ‘rime Minister’s place… they were all heroes, it was like they had just conquered Everest.”
So,’50 years on, it’s all to play for at the Oval again and, given the unpredictable nature of the series, Engineer is confident about only one thing. “‘he elephan” won’t be bac”,” ‘e laughed. “She’ll be far too big to get on the Victoria Line now.”