On the 3rd of October 1955 a New Zealand cricket side left for its first tour of the subcontinent. With 16 matches to played throughout Pakistan and India, it would be mid-January 1956 before they returned home.
Their captain on the tour was Harry Cave, the opening bowler from Whanganui who was often described as “popular” among teammates and opponents alike. In foreign conditions which continue to provide the toughest of tests for visiting players, Cave led from the front. Through five Tests in India he would bowl more than 250 overs, including 119 maidens – a series record for New Zealand that is unlikely to be bettered.
Harry was also an avid record-keeper, writing a daily diary which kept note of his work on the family farm and his movements as an international cricketer. These diaries offer a fascinating insight into the life of an amateur cricketer and, in these 1955 entries, show in Harry’s own words the dramatic contrast between the family farm Seafield and the streets of Karachi or Hyderabad.
Tuesday 27 September 1955, Seafield
[Ate breakfast] Docked lambs with Ken, Rhys & Frank in 15 & 13. Did 168 lambs in all from 144 ewes. [Ate lunch] Dug a bit of garden. Went into town for practice & saw Weka [Lionel] Wood for a while. [Ate tea] Went in to Club and played Dick Sewell in final of Handicap Billiards. Won 200-95.
Saturday 1 October 1955, Wanganui – Christchurch
Flew to Christchurch after farewells to family and others at airport. Henry Cooper & Eric Petrie on board plane going down. Met by Wal Hadlee, Sam Luttrell & Owen Gowrie at Christchurch.
Wednesday 5 October 1955, Karachi
Talked about health of team and what to do here to clean up misunderstandings. […] Heat still very apparent at midnight.
Saturday 8 October 1955, Karachi
Went down to boot shop and collected handmade boots. 30 rupees or £2.5. Very reasonable.
Thursday 13 October 1955, Karachi
All water has to be brought 50 miles to Karachi. Highly impregnated with minerals.
Wednesday 19 October 1955, Karachi
Very pleased to leave Karachi.
Sunday 23 October 1955, Bahawalpur – Lahore
Travelled through flooded areas during night. Not much water left now but nothing else left either.
Saturday 29 October 1955, Lahore | Second Test v Pakistan, Day 3
About 30,000 at ground today.
Tuesday 1 November 1955, Peshawar
Went round to Services Hotel and looked in. What a dump! Eight of boys in small dormitory. No bath or hand basin or shower or lavatory.
Thursday 3 November 1955, Peshawar
Told of hold up to 10 Gunn & Moore bats tonight. Cannot be claimed until just before we leave country except on payment of R 500 tax. As that is 3.16 per bat we refused to pay. Bats have been in Karachi since about Oct 23rd but no one wants us to have them for Dacca Test. […] What a great country this is.
Saturday 5 November 1955, Peshawar – Dacca
Saw Himalayas in distance, 150 miles way and took a photo of Mt Everest.
Friday 11 November 1955, Dacca | Third Test v Pakistan, Day 4
… decided to start on time if possible although it was really a bit wet and outfield was much too greasy to field on. […] Won toss and batted. Probably a mistake … [New Zealand were all out for 70]
Sunday 27 November 1955, Bangalore
Matt [Poore] bitten by a local mongrel on the field today just before stumps. Has to have 14 injections, 1 per day henceforth as a protection against rabies.
Tuesday 29 November 1955, Bangalore – Mysore – Bangalore
… went for a conducted tour of Maharajah’s palace – a magnificent affair […] Solid silver doors, also doors of ivory and inlaid teak & sandalwood.
Sunday 4 December 1955, Bombay | Second Test v India, Day 3
Bert [Sutcliffe] made a fine 73 then went out when a terrific bomb went off just as bowler delivered the ball […] Must have been over 30,000 today, best yet for numbers but the worst behaved in other respects I have ever seen. No wonder there is a wire fence between the stands and the ground.
Thursday 8 December 1955, Bombay – Ahmedabad
… went out to ground for practice. Greeted by about 1000 unruly Indians who would not move out of the way, so we abandoned the practice …
Wednesday 14 December 1955, Agra – Delhi
… went to the Taj Mahal. A very wonderful feat of architecture as well as outstandingly beautiful. Took a lot of photos.
Friday 16 December 1955, Delhi | Third Test v India, Day 1
… ending up with total of 218 for 1, the best day for NZ cricket for years. Bert [Sutcliffe] was in his best form of the tour and played some beautiful shots, reminiscent of his 1949 form.
Saturday 17 December 1955, Delhi | Third Test v India, Day 2
Batted till tea time and then declared at 450 for 2. Fancy any NZ side with a score like that. Bert [Sutcliffe] batted very soundly to break all records with a score of 230 not out. John Reid made a chanceless 119 not out too.
Tuesday 20 December 1955, Delhi | Third Test v India, Day 4
Also heard about promoter for match absconding with Sunday’s Test takings. One bit of amusement at any rate. Police are paid 5000 rupees to look after match and have no control at all.
Friday 13 January 1956, Nagpur
Went and picked up a doctor to have a look at Tony [Macgibbon]. Diagnosed exhaustion etc, same as John Hayes [who the team had left in a Madras nursing home two days earlier after he collapsed].
Thursday 19 January 1956, Sydney – Christchurch
Ah! The great day at last.
These excerpts are from the 1955 diary of Harry Cave, part of the Cave Family Collection at the New Zealand Cricket Museum. Please contact us for more details.