A Test match of landmarks for Bradman, Melbourne 1947-48 : Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’

DonIt was rain all the way in the second Test at Sydney. If there had been some more play than was possible, India might well have pulled off a win. The dismal conditions ensured that India were bowled out for 188 not long before play ended on the second day. Under the circumstances, Kishenchand (44) and Dattu Phadkar (51) did well to add 70 for the 7th wicket. How sodden the ground was, can be gauged from the fact that Australia were dismissed for 107 on Day Five. Hazare’s off-cutter crept through Bradman’s defence, sending the bails flying when he was on 13. This was The Don’s only failure in the series. By close of play India had slipped to 61 for seven. The final day’s play was washed out.

The third Test at Melbourne was momentous for The Don in more ways than one. The sun shone on the first day and he, predictably, made merry. On 29, he reached 6000 runs in Test cricket. It was only his 45th Test and 68th trip to the crease. With Morris, Bradman added 70 for the second wicket. Hassett joined him, and that afternoon Bradman raised his 25th Test hundred. When Hassett (80) left, the partnership was worth 169. Not long after, Bradman himself was leg-before to Phadkar for 132. He had been at the wicket for 199 minutes and faced 204 balls, hitting 8 boundaries. Miller was in a belligerent mood, clouting 3 sixes in his run-a-ball 29.

Australia were eventually all out for 394. India, on their part, stood up rather well to the top-class pace attack, and there was a rare sight of both Lindwall and Miller going wicketless. Mankad and Sarwate put up a century stand upfront. Sarwate (36) left with the score at 124. Mankad brought up his maiden Test hundred, going on to score 116. Down the order Phadkar hit up an unbeaten half-century before Amarnath declared at 291 for nine to take advantage of a wet pitch on the third day.

The perceptive Bradman simply reversed his batting order, sending in nine, ten and jack at nos. 1, 2 and 3. Sure enough Ian Johnson was out for a duck but, importantly, Bruce Dooland and Bill Johnston hung on for almost 12 overs between them. It was 13 for three when the regular openers Barnes and Morris got together. Barnes fell at 32, and that is when Bradman entered the arena with more than an hour having passed and the pitch in better condition.

Morris and Bradman simply took the game away from India. Bradman brought up his second century of the match. Morris reached his own hundred by close of play, and the partnership was worth 223. Bradman was unbeaten on 127 in under three hours, having faced 169 balls and struck 13 boundaries. He declared immediately in the morning at 255 for four, his decision influenced by a heavy overnight downpour.

The firm of Johnston and Johnson made short work of the Indian batting, bowling them out for 125, capturing four wickets each. Down the order, K. Rai Singh, playing in his only Test, and Khandu Rangnekar wielded the long handle, as India went down by 233 runs.

Having already brought up his 100th first-class hundred off this Indian attack, the Melbourne Test saw Bradman reach 6000 runs and 25 centuries in Tests, and also a hundred in each innings. These were surely a few of the many reasons why Bradman had a soft corner for Indians. After years of toil it was celebration time for the greatest batsman of them all.

Amarnath made his point in his tribute on Bradman’s 90th birthday in The Sportstar: I have bowled to some great batsmen like Wally Hammond, Len Hutton and Dennis Compton. I never thought they would never be out. But it was different when Don strode to the crease. Let me share a secret. Bradman was the only batsman who put the fear in me even before he had faced a ball.” That is high praise indeed, for it is hard to imagine Lala Amarnath, the original stormy petrel of Indian cricket, being frightened of anyone, even if it was Don Bradman. That told a tale and, statistics apart, it is observations like these that reveal that Bradman was different, greater than the greatest.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Don’s Century’, published by Sporting Links, ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0.

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110 001, Phones + 91 11 23417175 and 23412567.

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