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Spinwash ’93: Michael Atherton Previews His Documentary About The Crazy Tour From England To India | Cricket News




Spinwash '93: Michael Atherton Previews His Documentary About The Crazy Tour From England To India | Cricket News



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A tour like no other … Watch our Spinwash ’93 documentary on England’s trip to India this summer on Sky Sports Cricket.

A tour like no other … Watch our Spinwash ’93 documentary on England’s trip to India this summer on Sky Sports Cricket.

Using behind-the-scenes footage captured by Dermot Reeve, Michael Atherton takes a look at the very eventful 1993 tour of England to India in our summer documentary Spinwash …

The game has changed a lot since our trip in 1993. India too. We wanted to do a show to reflect this.

Dermot, who was one of the players on the tour, had taken a camcorder with him for three months, and for a long time I had wanted to do something with the footage. We came to an agreement and I spent the winter doing this program.

What you get are completely unattended players. Modern documentaries might perform a lot better than this hour-long show, but there’s no actor or game that lives up to the camera here. It’s very natural – guys didn’t expect it to ever be shown. His images behind the scenes of the camp, completely as they were.

There’s a lovely moment, for example, where Chris Lewis walks in and says a prayer in the corner of the locker room after scoring his first Test 100 in Chennai, with everyone congratulating him.

For the most part, however, it was a memorable tour for unforgettable reasons. England were “washed”, or whitewashed, as you want to call it, losing 3-0 in the Test series.

It was the kind of tour where anything that could go wrong went wrong. There was a pilots’ strike the first month, we had to travel everywhere by train; the first ODI was abandoned in Ahmedabad because of the violence; a lot of people got sick – we had a virus going around – which meant we had to change teams every game, and we got run over on the pitch.

And yet, despite all of this, it’s a tour that everyone who took part in it fondly remembers. It was just such an amazing experience. Any trip to India is, but given the exceptional circumstances, this one is even more so.

When you travel across the country on these trains – some 6pm, sleeping at night – you are almost forced to come together as a team.

The type of entertainment we offer will be very different from today, where you have cell phones and connections that allow you to talk at home, play any game. At the time, it was reading books, playing cards, playing charades.

I remember these trips very well. Bob bennett [then England tour manager] having to invent hundreds of corned beef naans to feed us along the way.

After the pilots’ strike ended, we also had one or two mind-boggling flights. One where we flew in a flock of birds, and another where we had a hydraulic failure.

Phil Tufnell, in many ways the star of our show, is and always has been a truly shocking aviator. We have some footage from one of those flights where Tuffers looks particularly pale.

On the show, Tuffers speaks so brilliantly about his issues and struggles on the pitch, as well as how he’s gotten away with it once or twice. We have crisp movies of him, in places you wouldn’t exactly expect to see him, like a Rajasthani hotel gym – with a lit cigarette.

Phil Tufnell is one of the contributors to our documentary Spinwash '93

Phil Tufnell is one of the contributors to our documentary Spinwash ’93

As for the action on the pitch, the result was not much different from England’s tour of India last winter. In the first test, we made a mistake in our selection, choosing four seamers and one spinner, while India chose three. And these three spinners – Anil Kumble, Rajesh Chauhan and Venkatapathy Raju – represented 46 wickets between them.

The one that didn’t fall into the water was an Alec Stewart leak in Mumbai. I was sick for the first two Tests, but I tried the third and had this disastrous race with Stewie.

Quite a funny outing – the keeper dropped it when the pitch came in but we were both on the same side. He maintains it was my fault and I gave him the final say on the documentary but, privately, I’m not sure there was a leak there.

This is what adds to the show. Combined with this behind-the-scenes content, we have the archive footage from the tour. It was the first Sky was covering in the subcontinent and, in fact, the first match of this tour, in Jaipur, was the very first match to be broadcast on satellite TV in India.

It was the start of a radical change for cricket in the subcontinent, with more money going into the game. It was the start of what you are seeing now, the end of the IPL match and the players winning millions of pounds.

And coming to the fore just at the perfect moment in this transition was a Sachin Tendulkar. He’s another star of the show as we see him scoring his first Test 100 in India, in Chennai. He looks so young! As indeed we have all done.

Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test 100 in India during their 1993 England tour

Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test 100 in India during their 1993 England tour

There is a lovely moment where we have young Sachin talking about his excellent record-breaking partnership with Vinod Kambli – who was injured two hundred in the third test – in a school game, where they played over 600 set.

There are many key moments in Indian cricket. There is obviously their victory in the 1983 World Cup; the 2007 T20 World Cup which paved the way for the IPL. This tour was important in a minor, but major way.

It’s not a project that people will necessarily consider revolutionary, but it was the start of a journey. It was the first tour in which Doordarshan, the state television channel, did not have a monopoly on television rights.

I think this tour was sold to the BCCI for £ 600,000. In three years the World Cup was there, for £ 10million, and now you watch TV rights being sold for billions.

It was also the only test tour in India where I participated as a player. Nowadays, England goes to India every two minutes these days, whether for the IPL, the Test or the day tours.

The documentary helps show how life and cricket have changed. And a pretty quick change to that.

Watch Spinwash ’93 on Sky Sports Cricket Wednesday at 7pm. The show will then be available to watch on demand from 9 p.m. on the same day.





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