Gunn & Moore’s half-century (and more) of Indian success

A short press cutting from 1932 marks the start of a long and successful connection between Nottinghamshire’s famous bat makers, Gunn & Moore, and some of India’s top cricketers. 

When the first All-India team to play test matches came to England, they also had fixtures against some of the counties, including Nottinghamshire and, according to the Evening Post of 2 July, “found to their pleasant surprise that Nottingham is the home of cricket bats, as well as the lace centre of the country”.

The team visited Birkin’s lace factory and then went to see bats being made at Gunn & Moore’s Nottingham headquarters. A group of them are seen here with bats in hand.

This was, says the report, “a new experience as none of the team had watched the manufacture of bats before”.

SHM Colah, one of the more successful of the Indian batsman on the tour who established a reputation as a hard hitter, “chose several bats for his own”.

It seems probable then that Sorabji Colah was among the first Indian cricketers to pick Gunn & Moore as their favoured bat makers.  Over the years, many more followed suit – including some of the biggest names of post-War Indian cricket.

Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Armanath, Madan Lal, Syed Kirmani, Dilip Vengsarkar, and Anil Kumble are among the international stars sponsored by G&M – as was Dilip Doshi, who had more opportunity than most to try the bats and equipment as he played for Notts for six years in the 1970s.

Four of that sextet were in the Indian squad that surprised the world – and themselves – by winning the 1983 World Cup. 

Armanath, Vengsarkar, Madan Lal and Kirmani were all in the team that played Australia at Trent Bridge in the early rounds of the tournament – a heavy defeat giving no clue that they were about to topple the mighty West Indies and make cricketing history. 

Vengsarkar was not in the team for the final but Jimmy Armanath and Madan Lal each took three wickets at Lord’s to help clinch the title.

Kumble started his international career too late for that side but was to become of his country’s greatest players – taking 619 test wickets and making many useful late order runs.  His one test century, 110no, came in in 2007 against England at The Oval, very shortly after he had started using Gunn & Moore bats…surely not a coincidence. 

Anil Kumble captained India in Test Matches and ODIs and in 2014 was inducted into the Wisden India Hall of Fame.

The long association between Indian players and Gunn & Moore has been reduced as the success of local manufacturers on the sub-continent, spurred no doubt by the lucrative contracts of the Indian Premier League, has meant fewer players now look to Nottingham for their bats and equipment.

But that courtesy visit in 1932, though it made only a paragraph in the local paper, was the start of more than five decades of fruitful partnership.

August 2021