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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.’
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!”
Few tweets from @sidvee
Jardine on Bradman in '28: He doesn't care for the batting manual. He could make scores none of us have dreamt of. (sounds like Viru to me)—
Sidvee (@sidvee) December 11, 2010
I'm shocked how hardly anyone mentions a crucial aspect of Bradman's career: He was dropped after one Test. Like dropped!—
Sidvee (@sidvee) December 11, 2010
Larwood to Jardine before Bradman's debut in 1928: "He's never played England. We'll take him, Mr Jardine. We'll have him for dinner."—
Sidvee (@sidvee) December 11, 2010
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!”