Saturday, December 26, 2015

Don Bradmans Antics in Bombay: Was he a Racialist ?

Don Bradman was Great but not the Greatest
Donald Bradman played cricket for Australia. He played cricket at a time when the British empire reigned supreme all over the world. The Don has a test batting average of 99.94 and on the basis of this average many people consider him the greatest player ever in cricket. But a recent interpolation through the computers where all the innings of the Don were analyzed reveals that if the Don had played on all wickets in India ,South Africa and West Indies his batting average would have been considerably lower. For the Don played all his cricket only in England and Australia. Thus his experience was limited to playing on Australia and English wickets.
Don and India
There are many people who opine that the Don had great love for India and he would have toured India if given the chance. but his attitude belies this claim. In 1948 while on the way to England his ship docked at Bombay( Mumbai). Many Indian cricketers including Vijay Merchant went up to the Don's cabin and requested him to come on deck to greet the many Indian's who were his admirers. But the sad part is the Don refused to come out of his cabin. A man who would not come out of his cabin to meet Indian is not expected to tour India even if given the chance.
Fair weather batsman

The Don was a fair weather batsman and scored heavily on wickets conducive to batting. On the 1947 Indian tour of Australia Don Bradman failed on a rain soaked wicket in the second test. Though in the other tests on batting wickets he scored heavily.
The Don's average of 99.94 did not hold true when facing Douglas Jardine 'e team in the famous body line series when Harold Larwood ran into the Aussies as a tornado. He averaged just about 60 in that series and was effectively cut to size. At that time England had only one super fast bowler in Harold Larwood. I shudder to think what would have happened in case Bradman had to face a quartet of lethal fast bowlers like Marshall, Roberts, Holding and Garner. Wearing or not wearing a helmet is hypothetical as in that age and time nobody wore a helmet.
Jim Laker in his autobiography has written that Bradman was suspect against high class spin. Jim laker took 19/90 against Australia( 1956) and this is the only record ever that will stand for all time. He claims that when Australia was racing to 404 for a win and Bradman made 173*, he was let of twice of his bowling. In any case Bradman never faced the likes of Ghulam Ahmed, Subhas Gupte and Mankad on rank turners, where the ball turned square like at Calcutta and Kanpur at that time. we have only the computer to rely on interpretations.
Last Word
Bradman was a great player, but to label him the greatest is a misnomer. I would rate the West Indian Vivian Richards higher than him. He was the real king of cricket and his swagger and walk to the wicket itself intimidated the bowlers. Talking of helmets, he didn't wear one. More over he played all around the world and all types of wickets and everywhere he left an indelible mark.
Bradman is no more. But most people are apt to hero worship, hence people forget about the Don's antics at Mumbai and his failure on rank turners. Not with standing this Don Bradman was perhaps the greatest Australian batsman, though not of the world.