Tepid endings and glorious beginnings: Vijay Lokapally remembers India tour of England in 1996

Tepid endings and glorious beginnings: Vijay Lokapally remembers India tour of England in 1996


In this episode, we chat with the veteran cricket writer Vijay Lokapally on India’s 1996 tour to England.

Vijay relives the incandescent innings and spells he witnessed through the tour – both in the Tests as well as the tour games. He also gives us a detailed recap of Navjot Sidhu quitting the tour and remembers a special interview he did with Sachin Tendulkar.

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Talking Points:

  • India playing a Test series after more than seven months of one-day cricket
  • The focus on Mohammad Azharuddin – for cricketing and non-cricketing reasons
  • Vikram Rathour’s string of runs in the tour games – and his reputation in domestic cricket
  • Javagal Srinath confronting a strange autograph seeker
  • The Navjot Sidhu fiasco – and Vijay’s role in the series of events
  • Tendulkar’s symphony in the Edgbaston wreckage
  • Devon Malcolm’s fan-boy moment after Derbyshire’s game v the Indians
  • Sourav Ganguly’s take-that moment at Lord’s – and the pristine strokeplay
  • Rahul Dravid’s immaculate technique – as well as his love for books
  • Venkatesh Prasad’s break-out tour
  • Sandeep Patil’s challenges on his first assignment as team manager
  • The captaincy changing hands at the end of the tour
  • The players who faded away at the end of the series


Vijay Lokapally (@vijaylokapally)

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee)

Mahesh Sethuraman (@cornerd)


From Bedi to Kohli: a cricket writer’s journey – 81allout podcast with Vijay Lokapally

Ganguly all set to make his Test debut – Vijay Lokapally’s piece on the morning of the Lord’s Test in 1996

Navjot Singh Sidhu’s sudden mid-tour retirement raises questions – India Today archive

Lele reveals why Sidhu walked out of 1996 tour – Times of India

The man who stole the show – Wisden Almanac profile of Dickie Bird

Golden debuts – R Mohan’s report on the Lord’s Test

Highlights of the 1996 Lord’s Test – YouTube video

Rahul Dravid 95 at Lord’s on debut – YouTube video

Interview with Sourav Ganguly after his debut hundred – YouTube video

Sledges brawls and epic contests – 81allout podcast with Vijay Bharadwaj and Hemang Badani

Meaning of Sport – Simon Barnes

Breath of Sadness – Ian Ridley


Lead image from here.

4 thoughts on “Tepid endings and glorious beginnings: Vijay Lokapally remembers India tour of England in 1996”

  1. This is a certainly a great recap of the 96 tour of England. Back then, Starsports and ESPN were 2 separate entities even though they’re now ESPNSTAR. While Starsports showed the county games, all the international fixtures were telecasted on ESPN. Unfortunately, ESPN’s relay was restricted. I think cable operators had to pay extra money for s the feed due I missed most of the games.

    Still remember Azhar scoring 70’s in almost every tour game. Deccan Chronicle which was Hyderabad’s leading English daily at the time and needles to mention slightly partisan to the local boy showed headlines such as ‘Azharuddin in cracking form’. 😊. Azhar needed such good luck on his side back then.NDTV which was the erstwhile StarNews group ran Navjot Singh Sidhu’s story as it’s no. 1 news item on the 9’o clock news.

    I as a listener which have loved to have little more insight on why exactly there was a fallout between Azhar, NSS and the rest of the team. Supposedly JY Lele in his book mentioned that NSS wasn’t all that happy the way he was treated etc. However, we could have also touched upon the resolution committee that was set up subsequently with Lele, Jimmy Amarnath, Sunil Gavaskar heading it and its subsequent verdict.

    Nevertheless. Thank you for the walkthrough of the memory lane. One of these days, will you please recap the glorious year of 1998 when Tendulkar was at the height of his powers and Azhar had his best shot as the Capitan of the Indian cricket team.

    1. Thanks Siddharth. We would love to chat on the glorious year that was 1998 – with India’s wins against Australia at home, the Coca-Cola Cup in Sharjah and the Independence Cup in Bangladesh. Such a magical year for Sachin and Azhar. And Sidhu too! – Sidvee

  2. I agree with Siddharth Ananthula that it’s a great recap of the tour and the related memories.

    One of them would definitely be about ESPN (and the mayhem it caused). In the home series vs New Zealand (1995), I remember noticing a placard “Thank you ESPN” and I had no clue what ESPN is and why is this person thanking them. But ESPN (or its exclusivity) was felt during the Sahara Cup tournaments. In the area where I lived (in Jhansi), we had either Doordarshan or dish antenna, both of which didn’t air those tournament. So I remember a street vendor selling boiled eggs and stuff had ESPN connection (don’t know how). He used to have bumper sales during those days. Imagine people standing outside his stall during rains and having boiled eggs so that he doesn’t shoo them away. And some of the local newspapers used to click photos directly off the TV screen and used to publish them. There were things in those days that you cannot do now.

    One more thing you mentioned is that number of tour matches we used to have and yes I remember Star Sports broadcasting them. I, in fact, remember one of them (vs Northants) in which a bowler was swinging in so prodigiously. He bowled 4 in-swingers to Azhar and them bowled a straight one and Azhar duly nicked that one and walked off. That was perhaps the first time I saw a bowler setting a batsman up. Here’s the match link and the bowler was Tony Penberthy.

    Link: https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/india-tour-of-england-1996-62278/northamptonshire-vs-indians-tour-match-580520/full-scorecard

    The bit about Sidhu was hilarious – I watched a video last year in which the vlogger mentioned the particular word, why Sidhu was triggered, and how it eventually got solved. It later turned out it was a non-issue. May be that’s the reason Sidhu was so embarrassed to talk about it.

    Lokapally sir’s recollection of the last podcast episode and the bits about Dodda Ganesh are so innocent yet so funny.

    1. Thanks Vivek. Lovely insights about the exclusivity of ESPN and the things one needed to do to watch TV coverage back then. Boggles the mind especially because India is such a massive TV market these days. Tony Penberthy! What a blast from the past. – Sidvee

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