The Indians (and Brits) who fought on Hitler’s side

By now you know all about the heroic (?) deeds of the INA in East Asia. But you would not know about the Indians who fought in Hitler’s SS. The SS was not really racist-it had units from much of the Commonwealth, even a British unit as well as numerous non-Aryans from all over.

The main reference is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Waffen-SS_foreign_volunteers_and_conscripts#British_Commonwealth

though I am summarizing the main points below:

India: 2,500 in the
Indisches Freiwilligen Infanterie Regiment 950 or “Tiger Legion” This is described in some detail (including Netaji’s role) here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Legion

Stranger still was the story of the Britischer Freikorps in the SS (which had a peak strength of 27, not enough for a platoon).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Free_Corps

This was indeed so obscure that few people in Britain had heard about it until the publication of the popular novel “The Eagle Has Landed” in the mid-70s. It does not seem to figure in the movie.

The British government did, indeed, execute a few individuals such as William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) and John Amery for participating in broadcasts for Germany’s Ministry of Propaganda (headed by Herr Goebbels); as we know, Goebbels Jayanthi will be celebrated on a large scale in India on October 29 🙂 . But the irrelevance of the British Free Corps meant that nothing much happened to them.

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Obscure byways of Pakistan cricket

Everyone knows about Bradman’s 99.94 and most cricket fans know about A.G. Ganteaume’s freak average of 112.00 .

But have you wondered who scored the most runs in his Test career without ever being dismissed? The answer is Pakistan’s Afaq Hussain of the 1960s, whom most Pakistani cricket fans may not have heard of:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/38975.html

Cricinfo does not have a picture for him.

Here is a list of those who scored the most runs in Tests without ever being dismissed:

Unbeaten-1

But Afaq played in only 2 Tests and 4 innings. Whom do you you think played the most Tests and innings without ever being dismissed? The answer is another Pakistani player, who is somewhat better known but is not likely to play Tests again:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/39821.html

Here is the list of those who played the most Tests and innings without being dismissed;

Unbeaten-2

Note that this list includes Niaz Ahmed who has been mentioned as the only East Pakistani to have played for Pakistan. He was born in Varanasi, so this may or may not be true.

There have been only three instances of 4 wickets in 5 balls, and Pakistan has been involved in two of them:

4 in 5

Scorecards of these matches:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63211.html

Here Pakistan went from 125/6 to 126/9, with Wasim Bari, Iqbal Qasim and Sikander Bakht being out first ball.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63542.html

Here Akram dismissed tailenders Ambrose and Walsh first ball.

And finally, the lesser known Pervez Sajjad held the record of best Test return for 4 wickets from 1965 to 2013:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/42324.html

He was the the first to reach 4 wickets for 5 runs in 1964-65. This was equalled by England’s Ken Higgs soon after but was not beaten until Zimbabwe’s A.C. Cremer took 4-4 in 2013.

A blast from the past-Francis Gary Powers

The name of Francis Gary Powers may not mean much to the present generation. But in early 1960 he was one of the most well-known (if not infamous) people in the world.

I remembered him while reading this report of the latest atrocity in Pakistan:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34287385

This mentions an attack on the Bedber air force base on the outskirts of Peshawar. While this is not the main airport in Peshawar, it was a centre of CIA surveillance on the USSR in the 50s and 60s.

That was at a time when satellite surveillance was in its infancy, so the next best tool available was the U-2 aircraft which was supposed to fly so high that no Soviet weapon could hit it. Francis Gary Powers was among the American pilots who made regular flights from Peshawar into the Soviet Union. He had started off in the USAF and later became a specialist U-2 spy pilot for the CIA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960_U-2_incident

Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Gary_Powers

As you can see from the map, it was an ambitious mission stretching all the way from the erstwhile Tadjik Soviet Socialist Republic to Murmansk on the Arctic ocean before it was to land at Bodo in Norway.

He took off from Peshawar on May 1, 1960 while his flight was monitored at the CIA facility at Bedber. His luck ran out at a height of 65,000 feet near Sverdlovsk when a salvo of missiles brought down his plane (besides a Soviet fighter whose pilot was killed). He baled out and was promptly captured. Perhaps he forgot to swallow his suicide pill.

As the US took some time to figure out what exactly happened, the wily Soviet Premier Khruschev had a nice time pulling President Eisenhower’s leg. However Powers did not have to spend much time in prison and was released in February 1962 in a spy exchange.

Ultimately he returned to civilian life and died piloting a helicopter in 1977 while working for a TV news channel in the Los Angeles area.

Travels in the deep South

Today we have a longish account of a series of train trips (mainly Tamil Nadu and Kerala) in 2006. Includes the now-vanished Sengottai-Punalur MG line, the jinxed bridge at Ariyalur and much more. For instance, why would Harry Potter feel at home at Tirunelveli Jn? Why should a North Indian not take punga at Park station in Chennai? Why do internet users dislike the small station of Senji-Panambakkam near Chennai? And who are Kerala’s notorious Gang of Four? All these important questions are answered below: Trip Report_ Southern Odyss..

Wish him happy birthday on Sep 17

As you know, several famous Indians were born on September 17. Some are fortunate to have Mallika Sherawat singing birthday greetings for them. Here we look at one who is not a politician but is famous in his own right as

  1. India’s best Test all-rounder, surpassing Kapil
  2. The second-best spinning all-rounder in all Tests, ahead of bigger names like Mankad and Benaud.

In these tables we are considering a cutoff of 1000 runs, 100 wickets, batting average above 15.00, bowling average below 45.00. Ranking is by (Batting average-Bowling average).

Indian all-rounders:

Ashwin1

Spinning all-rounders from all countries.

Note that Statsguru does not seem to consider Sobers and Greig to be spinners, since they bowled medium-pace as well.

Ashwin2

Tail piece: he is also India’s leading opening bowler of the 2010s (ie bowling at no 1 or 2)-far ahead of regular opening bowlers such as Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma:

Ashwin

Brian Close R.I.P.

Much has been written about Brian Close, a name which may not be remembered by the present generation of cricket fans. Admittedly his individual performances were not that impressive-no centuries or fivers in Tests. But he did provide effective leadership as captain in 1966-67 when the morale of England’s Test team was quite low. His captaincy record was 6 wins and a draw out of 7 Tests, probably surpassed only by one-offs like Ravi Shastri who won the only Test he captained. More than his statistical record, it was his typical Yorkshire doggedness which he is remembered for.

He remains the only England player to make his Test debut before his 19th birthday, being 18 year and 149 days old in his debut against New Zealand in 1949. He played his last Test 27 years later, in a career spanning four decades.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/10754.html

A little more about the circumstances in which he became captain. In 1966 the all-conquering West Indies team captained by Gary Sobers had won 3 of the first 4 Tests (two by an innings, another by over a hundred runs). When Close was pulled out of near-oblivion as captain, the 5th Test started predictably.

In reply to WI’s 268, England got to 166/7 with Close run out for single figures. Then followed one of the greatest tail-end recoveries in all Tests:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62995.html

Graveney and JT Murray put on 217 for the 8th wicket, while the no 10 and 11 (K Higgs and JA Snow) scored fifties apiece in a stand for 128 for the 10th wicket, bringing the total up to 527. Stung by this unexpected resistance, West Indies made 225 and lost by an innings and 34 runs.

In 1967, he oversaw a 3-0 sweep of India which had its moments in the first Test, remembered by Boycott being dropped for an over-cautious double century and Pataudi’s fightback of 64 and 148. India collapsed abjectly in the next two Tests. The only blemish of the summer was a draw against Pakistan, which Pakistan saved with some difficulty thanks mainly to Hanif Mohammed’s 187 not out.

It was equally typical of Close that he got into a quarrel with a spectator in a county match later in the season. This led to him losing the England captaincy as well as his exit from the team. It was thought that was the last international cricket had seen of him, until he was recalled to play 3 Tests against Clive Lloyd’s team of 1976. Here is a typical picture of that series (when helmets were not in common use).

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/image/632388.html?object=10754;dir=next