The ground breaking tour by the Parsees was the first by any Indian side to play in England.
The team was drawn from the highest echelons of Indian society and its players were considered ‘gentlemen’ according to the social division of English cricket at the time. While the Australian Aboriginal cricketers who toured in 1868 had been treated with curiosity, the high-caste Parsees were treated more as equals in British society, even playing one match against a team captained by Prince Christian Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria.
Of the 15 players, 12 of them came from the long-established Parsee club of Bombay, but the remaining three were from Karachi in the future Pakistan. Their tour began at Sheffield Park and ended at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park in a match organised at the express desire of Queen Victoria. The Parsees requested that WG Grace be included in the MCC team to play at Lord’s; he scored 65 and took 11 for 44 as MCC triumphed by an innings. Ardeshir Major was the Parsees’ best performer in the match, claiming the first five MCC wickets on his way to figures of 5 for 91.
The Parsees were outclassed in most of their fixtures and recorded only one victory during the trip, in a one-day match at Normanhurst, Sussex. But from the outset they had viewed the tour as a learning experience. The Parsee cricketers who made the journey were only those fortunate enough to be able to fund their trip independently, as some of their better cricketers had to stay behind. None of them had any experience of the game outside of Indian conditions. Harsh lessons were learned about the difficulties of cricket on a foreign continent, but they would serve Indian cricket well in the decades to come.