Saturday, May 4, 2013

Excerpts from Indra Vikram Singh's book 'Don's Century' ..... 16 - Chapter 7 : PEERLESS RUNGETTER AND OTHER MASTERS OF THE WILLOW (18. Left-handed Australian opener Arthur Morris)

It would be pertinent to discuss one more batsman of the Bradman era, his compatriot, the left-handed Arthur Morris, whom The Don chose in his all-time dream team to open with Barry Richards. It was with Morris that Bradman put on 301 for the second wicket in the famous run-chase at Headingley in 1948. They got together after Lindsay Hassett fell at 57, and set up the magnificent victory, the first time that a side scored 400 in the fourth innings to win a Test. Morris made 182 before he was dismissed on the very threshold of the historic triumph.

The perceptive Bradman always had immense faith in Morris. A brilliant strokeplayer all round the wicket, Morris made a century in each innings on his first-class debut against Queensland at Sydney in 1940-41 as an 18-year-old. But he fared poorly on first appearance in Tests against Australia in 1946-47, managing only 2 runs at Brisbane, and 5 at Sydney. Bradman, though, persisted with him and the youngster repaid his skipper’s faith in abundant measure. Morris delighted the crowds in the next two Tests. He scored 155 at Melbourne, and then a hundred in each innings - 122 and 124 not out - at Adelaide. It was, after all, a glorious initiation in top grade cricket.

Eight of Morris’ 12 Test hundreds came against England, three in the 1948 series, when he topped Australia’s averages with 87, having hit 696 runs; Bradman averaged 72.57 for his 508 runs. Morris scored Test hundreds in South Africa and the West Indies, and also against India at home. In his 46 Tests he aggregated 3533 runs at an average of 46.48, with a top score of 206. Bradman probably wanted a classy left-handed strokeplayer to open his All-time XI, which is why he included Morris.

Had the great man lived longer, he might have been tempted to consider Matthew Hayden, who only began his ascent to the pinnacle on the Indian tour of 2001 just after The Don passed away. After a close look at Morris’ career, one can see Bradman’s point, even though many might still not agree. It takes quite a lot to bypass the claims of the likes of Grace, Trumper, Hobbs, Hutton and Gavaskar, even if they were all right-handers.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

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