The Indian team felt the full weight of Bradman’s prolific bat. He was at the airport to receive them, as he so often did, was courteous, even helpful, off the field, but completely ruthless at the crease. He was clinical in the first Test at Brisbane, sharing a half-century stand with Morris, and then century partnerships with Hassett and Miller. Chandu Sarwate was one of those at the receiving end, and he reminisced in his chat with The Sportstar: “Vinoo (Mankad) was bowling with a field of six on the off. It was difficult to hit Vinoo and Bradman must have realised that he had to be different. His lightning footwork and his class saw The Don hammer three boundaries (in one over), all to the on-side. It was a daring assault and one which left even a bowler like Vinoo dazed. The bowler quickly reverted to five men on the off. You couldn’t have contained The Don because he had a tremendous range of strokes.”
By close of play Bradman was unbeaten on 160. Nayudu recalled with delight how he beat Bradman four times in an over, unable twice to pick his googlies. He said Bradman later complimented him on his bowling and was curious to know about those googlies. This revealed the perfectionist in Bradman. The champion that he was, he still wanted to unravel the mystery of those wrong ‘uns, and to understand why he had not picked them. Next day rain played spoilsport, and early on Day Three he was hit wicket off Amarnath’s bowling for 185. It was an object lesson in batsmanship to the Indians in a stay of 12 minutes under five hours. He faced 336 deliveries and hit 20 boundaries. Bradman, in fact, wanted the pitches covered on that tour but the canny Amarnath would have none of it. The Indian captain wrote in The Sportstar, “I did not agree for the simple reason that Australia would have scored two thousand runs in one Test. I dread to think how much he would have.” Amarnath observed in that article: “For those who make uncharitable remarks that Bradman played only at home and in England, let me remind them that when he played his cricket, the pitches used to be uncovered. Only those who have played on wet pitches and dew-affected pitches would know what I mean.”
On this occasion, though, Amarnath may have regretted his decision not to have the wickets covered, for rain swept away whatever little hopes of a fight his men may have harboured. At stumps they were 41 for four, but in the second innings! In the first outing they crashed for 58. At one stage they were 23 for five, Lindwall, debutant Bill Johnston and Miller sharing the wickets. Hazare and Amarnath added 30, when at 53 Toshack struck. He ran through the lower half, grabbing those five wickets for 2 runs off 2.3 overs. N.S. Ramaswami, writing about that ‘glue-pot’ wicket in his book From Porbandar to Wadekar quoted Hazare as saying: “We had seen a few sticky wickets in England, but the Australian sticky ones are quite different and difficult to play with the ball doing all manner of unexpected tricks.”
In the little time that the game was possible on Day Four, opener Sarwate and Hazare pushed the score to 70. The fifth day’s play was washed out again. On the final day, India could do no more than add another 28 runs. This time Toshack prised out the middle-order, bagging six for 29. His match haul was an incredible eleven for 31 in 19.3 overs. Sarwate battled for nearly three hours for his 26, and hit no boundary. It was a heavy defeat by an innings and 226 runs.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).
Don’s Century’, published by Sporting Links, ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0.
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