Friday, July 20, 2018

How Don Bradman’s batting brought succour to people during the Great Depression. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’


While Bradman was making his entry into the record books, a significant event that was to cast its shadow for more than a decade, was occurring on the other side of the globe. The United States of America, having experienced great prosperity in the 1920s, post World War I, saw soaring exports and booming stock markets, but much of the shares bought with borrowed money. This bubble that had consequently been created, burst on October 29, 1929, a day that came to be known as ‘Black Tuesday’.

The stock market on Wall Street collapsed. Countless fortunes were lost. The ripple effect engulfed the entire United States, and then the world. Banks failed, businesses and factories closed, and international trade came to a virtual standstill. The markets kept plunging and bottomed out only after three years. It is believed that 30 million people lost their jobs, half of them in the United States. Australia too took a big hit as nearly one-third of the people found themselves out of employment, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by as much as 25 percent. The Great Depression had set in. It was a period of great economic hardship that lasted more than a decade.

It was exactly during this time leading to the Second World War that Bradman regaled the crowds with his magical 2 lb 2 oz bat. People thronged to the grounds to watch his run-sprees, as much as to forget their own miseries. His deeds brought solace to the multitude that watched, heard or read about his exploits. In Australia there was the added glee of giving a hiding to the imperial masters, who protected the interests of their own merchants at the cost of the toiling masses. The impact of Bradman’s peerless accomplishments went far beyond providing entertainment and transmitting the joys of sporting excellence. His record-breaking feats helped lift, at least temporarily, the gloom in people’s lives, and enabled them to escape into a less depressing world.

When there was darkness all around, Bradman was one bright light that offered hope and instilled the courage to battle on. For many, Bradman became the very reason and purpose for their existence. Someone who has come close to replicating the joy that Bradman spread has been India’s Sachin Tendulkar. There has not been a more loved character in recent times than Tendulkar, nor one who people want to see succeed as much as he. When it was later pointed out to The Don that he had helped so many cope with the pain of the Great Depression, he merely replied, “I don’t know. I was too busy playing cricket.” Indeed he was, and so focussed was he on the field that the only things that mattered to him were runs on the board and victory for his team.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Don’s Century
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995
  


Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links:
A Maharaja’s Turf  ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket  ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century  ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory  ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It was 35 years ago that Kapil Dev played that explosive innings in the World Cup. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh's book 'The Big Book of World Cup Cricket'

Fantasy knock by Kapil Dev

NEVILL GROUND, TUNBRIDGE WELLS
18 JUNE 1983




This was the quintessential One-day innings. As India found themselves in deep trouble against a razor-sharp Zimbabwe side, skipper Kapil Dev strode in and played one of the greatest knocks in the history of One-day cricket. Kapil Dev ranks among the best allrounders the game has known. Yet he was a far more talented batsman than his records indicate. This innings showed exactly why.

It was a lively wicket at the Nevill Ground and the Zimbabwean pacemen Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran exploited it to the hilt. Sunil Gavaskar was leg-before to Rawson for a duck: zero for one. Krish Srikkanth was caught by Iain Butchart off Curran, also for a duck: 6 for two. Mohinder Amarnath was taken behind off Rawson for 5: 6 for three. Sandeep Patil was dismissed similarly off Curran for 1: 9 for four. Wicketkeeper David Houghton completed his third consecutive dismissal as he caught Yashpal Sharma off Rawson for 9: 17 for five; and it was an unprecedented calamity for India.

Roger Binny now joined Kapil Dev, and the skipper decided it was no time for half-baked measures. He launched a blitzkrieg. Binny was a resilient partner, and he helped his captain add 60 for the sixth wicket. Binny fell leg-before to John Traicos for 22. It was now 77 for six. Ravi Shastri scored only 1 before Duncan Fletcher had him caught by Andy Pycroft. India were precariously placed at 78 for seven.

Madan Lal came in now, and his role was limited to keeping his wicket intact while Kapil Dev was on the rampage. Kapil attacked in his inimitable style, hitting the ball to all parts of the ground. He drove, off the front foot and the back, through the gaps into the fence. Anything short was cut ferociously. If the ball was anywhere near, or outside, the leg-stump, Kapil would swivel in a flash and, as was his wont with his left leg bent in the manner of Lord Shiva, smite the ball anywhere in the region between mid-wicket and fine-leg.

Kapil Dev was a master in the art of lofting the ball out of the ground. One step forward - and bang - with perfect timing, and the ball would next be seen sailing high up in the distance. It was Kapil at his swashbuckling best. Madan Lal, no mean hitter of the ball himself when the bowling was less than genuinely quick, was left applauding for the most part. Madan Lal scored 17 before he was caught by Houghton off Curran. He had helped Kapil add 62 for the eighth wicket.

Syed Kirmani came in at 140 for eight, and now Kapil really let himself go. There was a shower of fours and sixes. Kapil blazed to his century off 100 balls. The pair added 126 runs before the overs ran out. Kirmani's contribution was 24 not out. Kapil remained undefeated with 175 off a mere 138 balls, which broke Glenn Turner's World Cup record score of 171 against East Africa in 1975.

Kapil had batted for a mere three hours, and hit 16 fours and 6 sixes - a round 100 in boundaries - in a stupendous innings which will never be forgotten. Zimbabwe, as they often did, went down fighting. But Kapil Dev had obliterated everything in the blazing morning's play. It was an innings of rare brilliance, the like of which is seen perhaps once in a decade. After this, Kapil's team never looked back and went on to wrest the title, creating one of the most stunning upsets in history. Hail Kapil Dev.


(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket is available at an attractive price on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.in/dp/8190166840

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Published in India by Sporting Links, 2011

Hardbound with jacket

Pages: 544

Fully Illustrated

Monday, June 11, 2018

On this day in 1975, was played one of the most exciting cricket World Cup matches. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh's book 'The Big Book of World Cup Cricket'

Dramatic last-wicket stand

PAKISTAN v WEST INDIES  EDGBASTON, BIRMINGHAM, 11 JUNE 1975

Deryck Murray.....the resilient gloveman played a stellar role with the willow.
The great paceman Andy Roberts could wield the long handle but this was an amazing effort.

     This was the quintessential One-day match, the kind its founding fathers would have envisaged. Fortunes fluctuated wildly, and with just three deliveries remaining the outcome hung in the balance. The favourites were on the ropes, with the challengers poised for a long time, trying to deliver the knockout punch. This match has gone into the annals as one of the most exciting.

Pakistan elected to bat and steadily built up a formidable score. The innate lazy elegance of Majid Khan, deputising for skipper Asif Iqbal, was in full evidence as he played a strokeful knock of 60. Mushtaq Mohammed drew on all his experience, and later Wasim Raja played some belligerent shots, both hitting up half-centuries.

The talented Pakistanis set a challenging target of 267 in 60 overs for the fancied West Indies. This was just the spur for the temperamental giant Safraz Nawaz to put pressure on the West Indies. In a devastating burst he demolished the top order. Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran were caught behind and Roy Fredericks was trapped in front of the stumps. Sarfraz had taken three for 8 in 3.4 overs. Veteran Rohan Kanhai helped his captain Clive Lloyd stage a minor recovery.

Then began a regular procession. At 166 for eight, with only wicketkeeper Deryck Murray and two tail-end pacemen left, an upset win for Pakistan seemed a certainty. The West Indies had long been rated as a team of brilliant players but often incapable of applying themselves under pressure. On this occasion Deryck Murray dug in his heels. He found an able ally in Vanburn Holder. They put on 37 runs for the ninth wicket. But just when the partnership was assuming ominous proportions, the wily Sarfraz returned to have Holder snapped up. At 203 for nine, surely it was all over bar the shouting. The sight of the phlegmatic Andy Roberts emerging from the pavilion could not have inspired much confidence among the Caribbean supporters.

Amazingly, the West Indies were not ready to call it a day. Run-by-run they inched towards their target. As they survived over-after-agonising-over, a tiny ray of hope began to emerge. For the Pakistanis it became increasingly frustrating, and as the crucial final overs approached, the alarm bells were ringing loudly. Murray and Roberts displayed admirable composure as they steadily chipped away. Leg-spinner Wasim Raja came on to bowl the final over in a desperate bid to coerce last man Roberts to miscue. The fast bowler was in no mood to fall into the trap with the goal so close at hand. He pushed the fourth ball to mid-wicket to pull off a sensational win for the West Indies.

A one-wicket victory with two balls to spare, and that as a result of an unbroken last-wicket stand of 64; it was not a match for the faint-hearted. Former England captain Tony Lewis wrote: "It was a superb triumph for the game of cricket which manages many things which politicians envy." As for the heroes, take your pick : Murray, Sarfraz or Roberts.

Pakistan          : 266 for 7 wickets (60 overs)
West Indies     : 267 for 9 wickets (59.4 overs)


The Big Book of World Cup Cricket is available at an attractive price on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.in/dp/8190166840




The Big Book of World Cup Cricket

Published in India by Sporting Links

Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The cricket World Cup began on this day, 7th June, 43 years ago

The cricket World Cup began on 7th June 1975.

So what was the first day of the tournament, then known as Prudential World Cup like? Four matches were played simultaneously at Lord’s, Edgbaston, Headingley and Old Trafford.

All the four winning teams on that day put up half-century opening partnerships, and all four of these sides - England, New Zealand, Australia and the West Indies - eventually advanced to the semi-finals. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, lost 8 wickets before they reached fifty.


It was a day of contrasting fortunes for the captains. New Zealand skipper Glenn Turner hit up an unbeaten 171, which was to remain the highest score in the World Cup until Indian captain Kapil Dev eclipsed it in 1983. But Sri Lankan skipper Anura Tennekoon had the mortification of registering the first duck of the World Cup. East Africa captain Harilal Shah was also dismissed for nought on that opening day.


Another hundred was hit up on this historic occasion by England opener Dennis Amiss who scored 137.


To complete a splendid picture there was a five-wicket haul too, by legendary Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee who bagged five for 34 off his 12 overs.


West Indies left-arm seamer Bernard Julien, though, earned the distinction of bagging the first four-wicket haul as he took four for 20.

The twelfth cricket World Cup starts on 30th May 2019 in England, where it all began 43 years ago.

Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket’ provides comprehensive coverage and photographs of this showpiece event right since its inception.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket is available at an attractive price on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.in/dp/8190166840

Friday, May 18, 2018

Test cricket needs a four-year, not two-year, championship, and with all 12 teams participating

WG Grace and KS Ranjitsinhji walking side by side in 1899. Test cricket is our great heritage that must be preserved carefully.

I don’t claim to be wiser than all the accomplished cricket administrators of the world or the great cricketers who have ventured into cricket administration. But I am surprised at the sloth of cricket administrators, and their apathy towards Test cricket which is inarguably the highest form of the game and from which stems every subsequent format. The administrators have been quick to truncate the game into One-dayers and Twenty20 to suit the times, but they have paid mere lip service to Test cricket which is timeless, and a charm very much its own.

I also do not wish to indulge in one-upmanship, turn around and say I told you so. But back in 1990, I wrote in my first book ‘Test Cricket: End of the Road?’ about the issues that are still being bandied about in cricketing circles. After the manuscript of this book was gone through by the publishers Rupa & Co., their boss R.K. Mehra told me that it should carry a foreword by either Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi or Sunil Gavaskar. I approached Tiger Pataudi in Delhi. He read the manuscript but declined to pen a foreword. Apparently, my book did not meet his standards. Rupa & Co. then sent the manuscript to Gavaskar but he too refused. Gavaskar was clearly irked by a chapter in the book about the Lord’s Test of 1990 when he and his former India teammate Bishan Singh Bedi, the then manager of the Test side, had had an acrimonious exchange through the media. Be that as it may, for Pataudi and Gavaskar were Indian captains and folk heroes, and I just a school, college and club cricketer - albeit with a fair amount of allround talent - and young first-time author. That though did not mean that I had no insight into the game, and certainly I had no less passion for the sport.

Those were the days when there was a debate whether Test cricket was dying and One-day cricket was the way forward. Wills, in fact, made a video on this anchored by none other than Tiger Pataudi. In the video Pataudi remarked whether One-day cricket was the future of the game. It was in this backdrop that I wrote my first book. I argued that Test cricket would not die but there were some changes required. Nearly three decades on, Test cricket continues to be played. Since then newer countries have earned Test status, two of which are making their respective debuts this year. It is, in fact, One-day cricket that is under threat from Twenty20, and indeed there are already talks about 100 balls a side and even ten over a side games.

So whither Test cricket? The traditional Ashes series between England and Australia continue to draw crowds at the grounds. In other countries, especially India, spectators are seen at the stadiums when the cricket is interesting. Obviously, times have changed. Earlier there were less forms of entertainment, there was no live telecast, and a Test match came to one’s city once every year or two. So people thronged at the venues. Crowds may have thinned at the grounds but there are still millions watching on television. And the nature of Test cricket is such that it allows companies to advertise liberally at reasonable rates. The problem really, as I mentioned earlier, is apathy of the administrators, and lack of proper marketing of Test cricket.

Clearly, this concept of rolling championship and ranking system is not working. I never thought it would. Who cares whether Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal is no. 1 in tennis at a particular time. But everyone wants to know who won Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, Australian Open….. and everyone wants to watch these tournaments.

Test cricket needs a long duration championship. A triangular tournament between England, Australia and South Africa was tried more than a century ago in 1912, and it was not a success. More recently in the 1990s an Asian championship was attempted but made no headway. I am convinced that Test cricket needs four-year championships between two One-day World Cups, not two-year ones as scheduled by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the 2019 World Cup. When there are twelve Test-playing nations, why are only nine going to participate in the Test championship? And why are these nine teams going to play three series at home and three series away in this two-year period? If we have all twelve teams participating in a four-year championship, they can easily play each other home and away in this time. The series can be of two, three, four or five Tests, as decided mutually by the respective boards. An interesting points system can be devised. Top batsmen, bowlers, allrounders, wicketkeepers and fielders will emerge over these four years, which is a reasonable period to decide such things. We will have a champion Test team at the end of four years. Why, isn’t there a champion One-day team every four years? Isn’t a soccer World Cup held every four years? Aren’t the Olympics held every four years? Why should a long game like Test cricket be confined to two years? The logic of ICC confounds me. A saying in Hindi goes thus: “der aaye durust aaye” (they came late but arrived in fine fettle). Here they came very late but not in good shape at all. There is no need for a final either. How can ONE Test match decide the fate of such a prestigious championship?

Again, as I wrote above, I presented these views in my book ‘Test Cricket: End of the Road?’, and also in an article in 2014 on one of my blogs. A link to it is given herewith:
https://indravikramsingh.blogspot.in/2014/02/world-championship-of-test-cricket.html
I sent a copy of it to the ICC. They acknowledged receiving it with the comment that ICC would consider it.

I also wrote about day-night Test matches and the need to do away with the toss in ‘Test Cricket: End of the Road?’. Of course, day-night Test matches should be played whenever and where the respective boards deem fit. Naturally, there will be more spectators at the stadiums, and television viewership will grow, especially in home series.

There is no need for the toss. The option of batting or fielding first should be with the visiting captain. The same ritual of the two captains and the match referee striding to the middle should be followed. There, after looking at the pitch, the visiting skipper could inform his opposite number about his preference, and they can exchange the list of teams as now. This will ensure that pitches are not doctored to suit the home side, and will be more sporting. It will lead to good cricket and a more level field (no pun intended!).

Test cricket will not just disappear. It is our heritage, a way of life. More books have been written on Test cricket, than on all other sports combined. It has more stories, tales and legends, as also intricacies, than any other sport. It has evolved over the last 141 years to what it is now. How we preserve it is up to us. More care is needed than is being shown. This is time for much more introspection.

Test Cricket – End of the Road?

ISBN 81-7167-080-6

Pages: 141

Published in India by Rupa & Co., 1992

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Some iconic cricket pictures

First tied Test, Australia vs West Indies, Brisbane, 1960-61

Gary Sobers hitting 6 sixes in an over

Dennis Lillee bowling to 9 slips and gullies

Glenn McGrath bowling to 9 slips and gullies

World Cup 1999 tie - Australia versus South Africa

Even spinners can fence in batsmen

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Recap of Don Bradman’s phenomenal Ashes tour of England in 1930. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’



It was a momentous tour. Having played a pivotal role in winning the Ashes, Bradman scored an unprecedented 974 runs in the series, still unequalled to this day, at an average of 139.14. He got all these runs at 40 an hour without hitting a six. Rarely did Bradman loft the ball. Some felt that this aggregate was the equivalent of Sydney Barnes’ feat of 49 wickets in four Tests against South Africa in 1913-14, but against better opposition. No other batsman from either side got even half of Bradman’s tally, nor even more than one hundred. Mammoth scores kept coming repeatedly from his willow like giant waves slapping the shore – a century, two double centuries and a triple century. The double hundreds decided the series. Without doubt the English would need to introspect deeply. C.B. Fry, himself a man of many parts and incredibly talented, was enchanted with Bradman’s display: “I wish I could have used my bat like Don. He is a gem of a batsman. I just love his finished technique and inevitable surety.”

As much as the runs that he scored, Bradman filled the counties’ coffers as never before. Jon Stock related a tale, perhaps apocryphal, in The Week: “Don was the bane of every bowler’s life, but he was also a commercial opportunity. Dai Davies, a Glamorgan player, recalls how he once came close to bowling Bradman in 1930. He was flabbergasted when instead of encouraging him, his captain Maurice Turnbull told Davies that his services wouldn’t be required that day. ‘But I’ll get him out the next over,’ Davies pleaded. ‘That’s what we don’t want,’ Turnbull replied. ‘Can’t you see, we’ve got to keep him in for Monday (the August bank holiday)?’ Glamorgan made a small profit at the end of that year thanks entirely to that game’s proceeds.”

By the final Test, his ninth, Bradman had reached an average of 100, and had as many as six three-figure knocks. His aggregate now stood at 1442 runs, the average 103. In all first-class matches during that tour of 1930, Bradman hit up 2960 runs, the most any visiting batsman has done, and notched up 10 hundreds. He topped the averages among all batsmen during that season at 98.66, which he did on all his tours to England. If anybody had lingering doubts about Bradman’s ability to cope with English conditions, they had been dispelled in the most vehement manner possible. From now on batting had only one don, perhaps forever. That Wisden selected Bradman as one of its cricketers of the year in its 1931 edition is only stating the obvious. A most telling comment came from the great allrounder Wilfred Rhodes, a shrewd judge of the game, and not one to shower praise lightly: “I bowled against all the best from 1900 to 1930 - Hobbs, Trumper, Grace and Ranji among them and many, many more - but Bradman was the greatest.”          

Ian Peebles, who bowled to Bradman during this series, wrote in the World of Cricket: “It was not until the series got underway that the cricket world gradually realised that this young man Bradman had inaugurated a new era and somewhat reinterpreted the old adage that ‘bowlers win matches’. Never before had an individual batsman so consistently given bowlers the opportunity of winning matches by the speed and extent of his scoring.”

Financially, the tour brought Bradman a bonanza. In addition to the ₤ 600 paid by The Board of Control for the six-month effort, which was easily double an average annual wage at the time, and the reward of ₤ 1000 bestowed on him by Arthur Whitelaw, was the contract for his first book Don Bradman’s Book of Cricket and its serialisation in the press. Bradman’s earnings came to a whopping ₤ 5000.

Don Bradman was now a folk hero in Australia, and he began receiving several offers for commercial endorsements. ‘Bradmania’ had besieged the minds of his countrymen. Whenever word spread that Bradman was at Mick Simmons, huge crowds would congregate outside. It was not long before a musical tribute was paid to him. ‘Our Don Bradman’ was an affectionate tune that became popular in the 1930s. Described as a ‘snappy fox trot song’, it hailed ‘Australia’s batting phenomenon’. Deft pianist that he was, Bradman himself composed a song ‘Every Day is a Rainbow Day for Me’.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Don’s Century
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995

Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links:
A Maharaja’s Turf  ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket  ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century  ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory  ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7

Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3 Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.

Available on amazon.in: https://www.amazon.in/s/ref=sr_hi_eb?rh=k%3AIndra+Vikram+Singh%2Cn%3A976389031&ie=UTF8&qid=1516365638&keyword=Indra+Vikram+Singh