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After Mumbai attack, former England cricketers recall 1984 tour


London : As English cricketers develop cold feet on returning to India for a Test series in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, former cricketers here recall the time when India was plunged into a turmoil after prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination but the 1984-85 tour was not cancelled.

David Gower’s team landed in India in the early hours of Oct 31, 1984, hours before Indira Gandhi’s assassination. They did not cancel the tour and spent some days in Sri Lanka before returning to India for the series.

England tour manager Tony Brown recalled in The Times, London: “I was woken up by the telephone ringing. I did not really know where I was and the person asked for Graham Morris. The caller told me Mrs. Gandhi had been assassinated. I immediately woke up then. I told David Gower but we didn’t wake the lads up straight away.”

“The players called a meeting and Allan Lamb said they wanted to go home. I explained to them what we were doing and there was no reason for anyone to be frightened. I offered them their passports and said they were free to go.”

England batsman Graeme Fowler said: “I remember getting in the lift to go down for breakfast and an American in there said ‘You guys have picked a great time to come to India.’ The squad were left kicking their heels in the hotel and friction soon developed.”

“Tony Brown really lost it. He asked us what our thoughts were. We all sat down and had a chat and then called Brown in and told him that there was no point staying. We were willing to go anywhere to get some practice until it calmed down. We did not want to go home.”

England were advised that it would be unwise to leave before Indira Gandhi’s funeral while there was unrest on the streets.

A two-week period of national mourning was announced. England were invited to Sri Lanka, where they played two warm-up matches before returning to India for the Test series.