Archive for August, 2011

Don Tales

Alright, so we got whipped! I had predicted a 1-1 series, and not even in my wildest dreams envisaged a 4-0 whitewash.

To alleviate the pain I was looking for something to read, and stumbled upon the a few tales revolving around Sir Donald Bradman that had been shared by Cricinfo readers during a long rain-break in a long forgotten India-SL match. Somehow I had the foresight to copy all the interesting tales in one location; re-sharing those tales here. Obviously I am not the source, I’m just an accumulator for this post.  All credit goes to the millions of readers of Cricinfo.

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There is, for instance, the tale of Bill Black, an off-spin bowler playing for Lithgow, who on a memorable day in 1931 bowled Bradman for 52. The umpire was so excited that when the ball hit Bradman’s wicket he called out: “Bill, you’ve got him.” The ball was mounted and given to Black as proof that he had dismissed the greatest batsman in the world.

Later that season Don Bradman again played against Black. As the bowler marked out his run, Don said to the wicketkeeper: “What sort of bowler is this fellow?”

The wicketkeeper, a mischief-maker like the rest of his tribe, replied: “Don’t you remember this bloke? He bowled you out a few weeks ago and has been boasting about it ever since.”

“Is that so?” said Bradman. Two overs later Black pleaded with his skipper to be taken off. Bradman had hit him for 62 runs in two eight-ball overs. He made 100 in three overs and finished with 256, including 14 sixes and 29 fours.

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On Bradman’s first tour of England in 1930 there was a popular rumour that the English pitches would sort him out. As an ardent subscriber to this theory, George Macauley, the feisty Yorkshire seam bowler, couldn’t wait to get at Bradman.

When Yorkshire played the Australians Macauley demanded loudly of his captain: “Let me have a go at this bugger.” His first over was a maiden. Bradman then hit him for five fours in the second over and took 16 from the third. A spectator yelled, “George, tha’ should have kept thi’ bloody trap shut.”

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Bradman could read a batsman and tell you how to bowl to him, but he did it obliquely, as with Bill Edrich, who tended to play across the line, at Lord’s in 1948. Ray Lindwall habitually placed a short leg behind the square leg umpire. When Edrich came in, Bradman asked Lindwall, “Do you want that short leg behind or in front of the umpire?”

“No, leave him there,” Lindwall said.

He bowled a couple to Edrich and would have had him caught by the short leg if he had taken Bradman’s hint. He asked Bradman if he should move the fielder.

“It’s too late now,” Bradman said; “he won’t play that shot again.”

Edrich played against Australia for another five years; Lindwall says he always had him in trouble as a result of Bradman’s tip.

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Lindwall recalls that the team attended a black tie function while a match was in progress, and that three of the bowlers on duty, himself, Colin McCool and Ern Toshach, were then invited to a party 15 miles out of London. They had to make three separate cab trips to get there; this persuaded them to stay at the party rather than attempt a complicated trip back in the early hours of the morning. When they did get back, still in dinner suits, they went up the hotel stairs in case Bradman was in the lift, but met him doing his exercises. The great man said no more than: ‘Have a nice night? You had better do all right today.’

They had a shower and took the field. Bradman bowled the three of them all morning; each took three wickets. Lindwall was on the rubbing table at lunch when Bradman ‘smacked me on the behind’ and said: ‘You were pretty lucky today.’

‘Why? We got them all out.’

‘If you hadn’t I would have liked to see the three of you bowling all afternoon.’

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When the Don scored 334 runs in a 1930 Test at Leeds, and a London newspaper finally trumpeted just two grateful words on posters around the city: “HE’S OUT!”

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Few tweets from @sidvee

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It was told to me by the great Australian batsman, Dean Jones, who positively swore on the head of his daughter it happened, and I have since been told that Merv Hughes also confirms its truth.

The scene is set at a Test match between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval back in February 1989. These were the days when the Windies were the greatest power the cricketing world had ever seen, the days when they used to select 11 fast bowlers in the team and a 12th man who was a fast bowler just to be on the safe side.

And it was into just such a furnace that the young bowler Mervyn Hughes walked – with bat in hand. Figuring fortune favoured the brave, Hughes wielded the willow like an axeman his axe, and somehow – after snicking fortutiously, connecting full-bloodedly, and missing entirely – he finished the day’s play at 72 not out.

The tradition in Test cricket is that the batting side take a few beers into the fielding side’s dressing-room afterwards, but not on this evening. Instead, Merv took an ice-box full of bottles, so keen was he to give the men of the Windies the full blow-by-blow account of every run he’d made. So it was that half an hour later, Jones – who himself had contributed 216 – and Hughes and several other Australian players were in the Windies dressing-room, when a sudden hush fell upon the gathering.

They looked to the door and there was Sir Donald Bradman himself, being ushered into the room by several South Australian cricket officials. The Don had expressed a desire to meet this mighty team, and now here he was.

For the next 15 minutes or so, the great man was introduced to the visiting players, with each West Indian standing up well before Sir Donald got to their position on the bench. Then, when their time came, they warmly shook his hand and had a few words.

This all proceeded splendidly until Sir Donald got to the last man on the bench, Patrick Patterson – the fastest bowler in the world at that time. So the story goes, not only did Patterson not stand, he simply squinted quizzically up at the octogenarian. Finally, after some 30 seconds of awkward silence, Patterson stood up, all two metres of pure whip-cord steel of him, and looked down at the diminutive Don.

“You, Don Bradman!?!” he snorted. “You, Don Bradman?!?! I kill you, mun! I bowl at you, I kill you! I split you in two!”

In reply, Sir Donald, with his hands on his hips, gazed squarely back at Patterson and calmly retorted: “You couldn’t even get Merv Hughes out. You’d have no chance against me, mate!”

Book Review: The Secret of The Nagas – Amish Tripathi

Update: Oath of Vayuputras is up for grabs!

As soon as I had read (and reviewed) “The Immortals of Meluha“, I knew I had to read the sequel. It was too interesting to leave the trilogy midway and not know what happens next. So it was no surprise that 80K more people agreed with me. That is the number of copies of The Secret of The Nagas that had been pre-ordered as per some article I had read. Thanks to Flipkart the book was delivered within a day after its official release and the wait was not too long. Now I cannot wait to pre-order the book-3, hope Amish Tripathi comes out with it soon.

The Secret of The Nagas picks up from where Meluha ended; and steams ahead for a few chapters before resorting to a tranquil place in the events that take place at Kashi. After those few languid chapters, the book keeps on speeding ahead with new revelations, new opinions and ends with a nice twist (although a tad foreseeable), and yet keeps the readers hanging for the part three of Shiva Trilogy – The Oath of Vayuputras. Many new characters have made an appearance. Primary of those are the sons of Shiva/Sati, the royal families of kingdoms in Swadweep, and a few Naga characters too. There were a few parts of the book where I felt Amish was going on a tangent, but later on realized that events that took place earlier always had an impact on the happenings later on.

While the events in book-1 took place in Meluha and ended in Swadweep, events in book-2 unfolded in Swdweep and ended in Dandak Forest – the Naga territory. Going by the same logic I’m assuming events in book-3 would be concentrated around the Dandakaranya. Comparing this book to “The Immortals of Meluha“, I feel the first part of trilogy was better – but then that book was a genre changer. While “The Secret of The Nagas” pales in front of Meluha, it is better than most of the books I’ve read this year. Amish Tripathi is a very good storyteller and has rarely penned in any flab in the book. Each word, each event, each chapter moves the story forward with an eye on whatever is to happen in the next chapter or next book. The author has a very firm control on the flow of the book.

If you’ve read The Immortals of Meluha, you must read The Secret of Nagas. And if you’ve not read the books of Shiva Trilogy and are even a tad interested in Indian Mythology, go buy both the books now and read them.

Wide Angle – Anil Kumble

Wide Angle by Anil Kumble

Buying Wide Angle by Anil Kumble is without a doubt one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Most of my real life investments are giving me shallow returns, but I’m sure this book will rarely, if ever, lost its value.

This book is a collection of the photographs taken by Kumble throughout his cricketing career and it is a great experience to see glimpses of the life cricketers have when on the road, and while playing – whether losing or winning.

There is nothing in it to *not* like the book. The only actual complaint I have is why was the book not longer? Why weren’t there more photographs?

If you are a cricket fanatic, this book is a must must buy. Wish the hardcover version was not so steeply priced. Would love to own a copy of the hardback sometime.

Preview the book.
Wide Angle @ Stack your Rack.


Meet the Blogger…

I write! Topic does not matter, can be my life, or my travels, or any match I saw, or the Hyderabadi life, or reminiscing about Raipur, or penning Short Stories & 55s.

I can be contacted at kunalblogs[at]gmail[dot]com.

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