Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Anniversary

Today is the 64th anniversary of Bradman's last Test innings, perhaps the most famous duck ever made, and certainly the most statistically significant.

John Arlott was the BBC commentator as Bradman came to the crease. Arlott was 34 years old at the time, five years younger than the Don. Rex Alston had described Bradman's entrance, and he handed to Arlott as Bradman took guard. The day had already been dramatic enough, with England dismissed for 52 and Australia already past a hundred when Bradman walked in.

"I'm not as deadly as you Rex," Arlott began, "I don't expect to get a wicket, but it's rather good to be here when Don Bradman comes into bat in his last Test. And here's Hollies to bowl to him from the Vauxhall End. Bradman goes back across his wicket and pushes the ball gently in the direction of the Houses of Parliament, which are beyond mid-off. It doesn't go as far as that, merely goes to Watkins, the silly mid-off. No run."

The scene was set. No-one, Arlott included, could have known immediately the full implications of what happened next. There might have been a second innings for start, but the moment had weight even as it occurred. Here is what Arlott said:

"Hollies pitches the ball up slowly and... he's bowled... Bradman bowled Hollies, nought. And what do you say under these circumstances? I wonder if you see the ball very clearly in your last Test in England, on a ground where you've played some of the biggest cricket in your life and the opposing side has just stood round you and given you three cheers and the crowd has clapped you all the way to the wicket. I wonder if you see the ball at all."

The way that "I wonder if you see the ball clearly" is echoed in his final sentence is the work of a poet. "In through the eyes, out through the mouth," Arlott used to say. He drank it in that day.

6 comments:

David said...

Bats may have gotten bigger, averages higher and fitness levels much more important, but I am not sure commentray has gotten better over the years. it is a long way from the poetry of Arlott, or even the economy of Benaud, to DLF maximums and the seemingly never ending roster of ex players clogging pay tv with their banality. There are still good commentators, but they are not the norm.

You can imagine the same scene today:

"Hollies pitches the ball up slowly and... he's bowled... Bradman bowled Hollies, for a DLF duck! And what do you say under these circumstances? I wonder if you... THIS MID WICKET BREAK BROUGHT TO YOU BY SAHARA"

Steve P said...

I stumbled upon your blog today and found myself reading it all. Your quiet brilliance almost eclipsed Jonny B's 72 at Lord's... Well played, sir. Hope there's plenty more to come.

The Old Batsman said...

Thank you Steve, very kind!

Jack said...

I wonder if it won't be too long before the Pay TV channel in question adopts the Aussie Channel 9 format and has 3 commentators a time doing a stint?

Especially with another Ex-England captain free and available!!!

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Hostpph.com said...

oh I did not know about this Anniversary, but I want to take advantage of the space you give us to congratulate for this awesome event, Bradman's Last tTest innings