Thursday, November 9, 2017

The legendary writer Neville Cardus’ comments on some great cricketers

Sir Neville Cardus (1888-1975) was a famous English cricket writer, music critic and long-timecorrespondent of The Manchester Guardian. His comments on some great cricketers make interesting reading.

On W.G. Grace and K.S. Ranjitsinhji, in his book Good Days (1934): “In the ‘nineties the game was absolutely English; it was even Victorian. W.G. Grace for years had stamped on cricket the English mark and the mark of the period. It was the age of simple first principles, of the stout respectability of the straight bat and the good-length balls. 
And then suddenly this visitation of dusky, supple legerdemain happened; a man was seen playing cricket as nobody in England could possibly have played it. The honest length ball was not met by the honest straight bat, but there was a flick of the wrist, and lo! The straight ball was charmed away to the leg-boundary. And nobody quite saw or understood how it all happened.”

On Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney  and Don Bradman: “Macartney, perfect of technique, none the less used his bat with an unmistakable pugnacity. He was less courtly in his stroke-play than Trumper, whose masterful innings had a certain effortless charm. Sir Donald Bradman annihilated all bowlers as though he was just performing the day’s work with a deadly efficiency. Macartney slaughtered bowling quite rapaciously. If he was obliged to bat through a maiden over he looked annoyed with himself at the end of it; and he would gnaw his glove. His forearms were formidably strong, his chin was aggressive and his eyes perpetually alive. They looked you in the face; they looked the best bowlers in the world in the face. Macartney employed a defensive stroke as a last resort. Nothing could daunt him. Before the start of a Lord’s Test match he came down to breakfast in a London hotel, looking through the window at the June sunshine and said:- ‘Lovely day, Cripes, I feel sorry for any poor cove who’s got to bowl at me today’.”

On Don Bradman’s 334 in the Leeds Test of 1930, in his book Play Resumed with Cardus: “At Leeds Bradman announced his rights to mastership in a few swift moments. He made 72 runs in his first hour at the wicket, giving to us every bit of cricket excepting the leg-glance. Every fine point of batsmanship was to be admired; strokes powerful and swift and accurate and handsome; variety of craft controlled with singleness of mind and purpose. Bradman was as determined to take no risks, as was to hit boundaries from every ball the least loose. And his technique is so extensive and practised that he can get runs at the rate of 50 an hour, without once needing to venture romantically into the realms of the speculative or the empirical.”

On Don Bradman: “People say ‘Oh, but he hasn’t the charm of McCabe, or the mercury of MacCartney, or the dignity of Hammond’; the objection is a little unintelligent, as though a lion was criticized for lacking the delicacy of the gazelle, the worrying tenacity of the terrier and the disdainful elegance of a swan or a camel.”

On Don Bradman: “Bradman’s achievements stagger the imagination. No writer of boys’ fiction would dare to invent a hero who performed with Bradman’s continual consistency. His batsmanship delights one’s knowledge of the game, his every stroke is a dazzling and precious stone in the game’s crown.”

On Gary Sobers: “He makes a stroke with moments to spare. The sure sign of mastery, of genius of any order, is absence of strain, natural freedom of rhythm.”

(These comments are reproduced in Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’, written in the centenary year of Sir Donald Bradman, celebrating his life and cricket career, and also presenting a panorama of batting from the 1860s to present times).  

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

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