Thursday, July 27, 2017

What Indian cricketers from the Australian tour of 1947-48 felt about Don Bradman. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’

Amarnath, on his part, was unstinted in his praise for Bradman. He wrote in The Sportstar: “I am yet to see another Bradman. Probably none would in the times to come. When people make comparisons between Bradman and others, I laugh. Such was Bradman’s mastery that even Test cricket was One-day cricket for him. Has anyone made 300 in a day in a Test? So please don’t insult The Don by making silly comparisons. I know he never came to India but then it was good for our bowlers. On our pitches, where the ball does nothing, it would have been like going shopping for him and he would have batted day and night.”

Regarding the characteristics of Bradman’s batting, Amarnath observed: “Bradman’s eyesight was remarkable. He would spot the ball so easily, when batting or fielding. Bradman was essentially a back-foot player. And an absolute delight to watch. Among the shots he played, the pull obviously was the most outstanding. He could pull any ball from anywhere, even those going away on the off-stump. His square-cut came from the middle of the bat and the speed with which the ball travelled to the boundary was amazing. I remember in the first Test at Brisbane, he played a square-cut off (S.W.) Sohoni and the ball came back five yards after hitting the fence.”

Hazare referred to Bradman’s tendency to often run, or jog, back to the pavilion after being dismissed. In an article in The Week, Hazare stated: “Whenever he got out, he always used to run to the pavilion! He never questioned the umpire’s decision. Most of the time he started running to the pavilion even before the umpire’s finger went up. We didn’t find him getting angry on the field. He was a cool person. He didn’t want to waste energy on anger.” Bradman’s exit was quite in contrast to his entry towards the crease. Then he would walk in slowly, collecting his thoughts, taking in the atmosphere, getting used to the light. When his job was done he would depart hurriedly, getting away from the heat of battle to relax and rejuvenate in the dressing room.

Sarwate spoke more about the personal qualities of Bradman. He said in The Sportstar: “He was a great tactician, a great captain. But he was also a great sportsman, a perfect gentleman and a true ambassador for cricket. I have not seen many opponents appreciating a good stroke or a good ball. The Don always had nice words if you played a good shot or bowled a good ball to him. Signs of a good sportsman who appreciates a good act and it did not really matter to him if the player was on his side or the other.”

Sarwate also recalled in The Week, “Don was very confident but not arrogant and that was the way he behaved with us. He never tried to show that they were playing against a very inferior side.” All this may sound bizarre and outlandish in the modern age of sledging. True, this is a very different era, of cut-throat commercialism, but abuse on the field is certainly a bane of present-day cricket. If players find it difficult to be gentlemanly nowadays, they should at least refrain from being loutish, particularly in this electronic age when impressionable minds watching on live television are quick to imbibe crass behaviour as being an acceptable way of life.    

Equally effusive in his appreciation of The Don, C.S. Nayudu also told The Sportstar: “As a cricketer he had no match and he was simply a lovable character as a down-to-earth human being. I know people said he was aloof at times, but we all found him such an easily approachable man.” The verdict was unanimous. Bradman and the Indians got along very well.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

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