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Frozen In Time - January 18, 1985


England's match-winners celebrate their nine-wicket victory in the fourth Test in Madras and going 2-1 up on their turbulent 1984-85 tour of India. England were not expected to do well: lan Botham chose not to tour and the previous summer they had lost 5-0 to West Indies. Within a few hours of the squad's arrival in India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. The squad flew to Sri Lanka to escape the ensuing riots; on their return, they went to a party hosted by the British deputy high commissioner, Percy Norris, who was then shot dead on the eve of the first Test, which England lost. Despite all this, David Gower's side won the series 2-1 to become the first England team to win from behind in India. Michael Vaughan's men are bidding to become the first England side since then to win in India (the tour starts next week).


'If anyone was going to get shot it would be either [captain] David Gower tossing up, Foster bowling his first ball, or me opening the batting,' says Fowler of the political unrest that marked the early part of the tour. 'Foxy' was still alive by the fourth Test, however, and scored 201, the first double century by an England cricketer in India. Despite his success - he averaged more than 50 in the series - the lefthander, who made his international debut in 1982, was left out of the team the following summer after suffering neck trouble and never played Test cricket again. He continued to be a reliable performer for Lancashire and, later, for Durham before retiring in 1994. He setup Durham University's Cricket School of Excellence and, at 48, is a regular member of BBC Radio's Test Match Special team.


The Essex fast bowler, playing in his first Test of the series, excelled by taking 11 wickets in the match, though he remembers that, while Fowler and Mike Gatting were given champagne and chocolate cake for their efforts, he received nothing. Having made his debut for England in 1983, Foster played 28 Tests until the summer of 1989 when he left the pitch in tears having signed up for Carting's rebel tour of apartheid South Africa. He was banned from international cricket, but returned for one Test against Australia in 1993, only to retire soon afterwards. He now works as a physiotherapist and is 43.


'To win the series was a wonderful effort considering what happened,' recalls Gatting, now 48. On hearing of Gandhi's assassination he remembers looking out of the hotel and seeing 'fires everywhere, buses burning'. The players were invited to Sri Lanka to escape the chaos, 'yet it wasn't much better there as the Tamils were rioting, it rained heavily and we didn't get any practice anyway'. Gatting had a superb series, scoring 575 runs at an average of nearly 100. The highlight was his innings of 207, in Madras - which, he says now, 'in terms of going to plan probably was my best knock'. In 1986 he replaced Gower as England captain, but was forced out in 1988 following tabloid headlines about his off-field conduct. The following year, he led the rebel tour to South Africa but, like Foster, reclaimed his England place (to the disgust of many) in 1993. He made the last of his 79 Test appearances in 1995. Since then he has been an England selector and is a columnist for The Observer. OSM
The Observer – February 2006

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