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banner Monday, 5 November, 2001, 17:15 GMT
Shambolic from start to finish
Dexter and Gooch presided over the chaotic tour
Dexter and Gooch presided over the chaotic tour
Events off the field when England toured India in 1993 are recalled by BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos.

The tour of 1993 is remembered as an unmitigated disaster for England as they were beaten 3-0 by an Indian team superior in every department.

Hard as it is to imagine, however, off the field they were even worse.

Even before the squad gathered at Heathrow, the planning for the tour was nothing short of shambolic.

Jack Russell, far and away the best wicketkeeper in the country and no mean batsman, was overlooked in favour of Richard Blakey, who would have done well to be regarded in the top 10.

But of far greater concern as to the good health of the selectors' minds, David Gower, who had averaged 50 against Pakistan that summer, was unceremoniously ditched in favour of - wait for it - Dermot Reeve.

Gower was dropped, but Gatting toured
Gower was dropped, but Gatting toured

Gower, the selectors argued, was too old.

But at 35 he was five years younger than John Emburey, four older than Graham Gooch and the same age as Mike Gatting.

Furthermore, Emburey and Gatting were being welcomed back into the side at the first opportunity after serving the bans for their involvement in the most recent rebel tour of South Africa.

Understandably, there was public outrage.

A special general meeting of the MCC was called by "rebel" members - much to the establishment's dismay - and a vote of no confidence in the selectors discussed in a Lord's corridor.

The motion was upheld by 715 to 412 of those present, though a postal ballet just tipped the balance in the selectors' favour.

From such ignominious beginnings it is hardly surprising that the tour then lurched from crisis to crisis.

The tone was set when, hours after arriving in Delhi, Gooch, the captain, announced that his seemingly unbreakable marriage was ending.

Still, there was the cricket to occupy the players' minds - until, that is, the temple of Ayodhya was destroyed.

Hundreds were killed across the country in the ensuing riots and the first match, in Ahmedabad, was cancelled because the players' safety could not be guaranteed.

When it was not civil unrest that was unsettling the tourists, it was the weather.

It came as no surprise when they lost the first Test at Eden Gardens by eight wickets, and right on cue Ted Dexter arrived to explain all.

Dermot Reeve was favoured over Gower
Dermot Reeve was favoured over Gower

"The players have quite reasonably talked about levels of pollution (in Calcutta) and how it has affected levels of performance," said Dexter.

"I've decided to commission an immediate report into pollution levels in Indian cities."

The only sane voice came from Kamal Nath, India's forests and environment minister.

He retorted: "In view of Mr Dexter's unease, I've decided to commission a report into the effect of pollution levels upon the trajectories of India's spinners."

Farce upon farce followed: picking four seamers on spin-friendly surfaces and food poisoning from prawns on the eve of the second Test.

Then there was an Air India strike, and annihilation by Anil Kumble, the man who Keith Fletcher, after an expensive scouting mission to South Africa, said couldn't "turn a single ball from leg to off".

The ones with which he took his 21 wickets at 19.80 must have done something, Keith.

At the end of the tour, the TCCB sat down to discuss the catastrophic winter and there was widespread speculation that Dexter would go.

Then, to put the seal on a most bizarre tour, Dexter is only right that the last words should be from Dexter.

Out he came from the meeting, brushing down his lapel defiantly and stating:

"There is a modern fashion for designer stubble and some people believe it to be very fashionable.

"But it is aggravating to others and we will be looking at the whole question of facial hair."

As one of the players responded: "At least we now know that we didn't lose because we played terribly."

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