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It has been nearly 65 years since the famous Invincible side of Australia went through the 1948 English summer undefeated. Only two members of that great side are still living: Neil Harvey, the pup of that team, and opening batsman Arthur Morris. Gaurav Joshi caught up with 92-year-old Morris – hailed by Sir Don Bradman as the greatest opening bat with Barry Richards — last week at the Bradman Museum.
Excerpts from an interview:
Gaurav Joshi (GJ): When did you first meet Don Bradman?
Arthur Morris (AM): I was nine years old. My father was a school teacher in a suburb of Northern Newcastle. Bradman was travelling for a sporting organisation and was in town having a coffee at a shop next to our place. I was outside, in the front yard with shorts and no shoes and my dad said “come here and meet Don Bradman”. I went outside and asked, “how are you, Mr Bradman?”
I cannot remember what Bradman had said at the time. It was later in life that I went on to realise I had met one of the finest cricketers; it was even more extraordinary that I had played under his captaincy in 1946.
GJ: What was Bradman like as a man and as a captain ?
AM: He was very conscious of being a good role model not only as a cricketer, but for the entire nation. I remember him mentioning how important it was to tour England in 1948 after the war. As a captain he always encouraged the idea of playing against all the counties on that tour. In those days there use to be large crowds even for our matches against the counties. The more the people, the more the money for the counties. Bradman had thought this would assist in rebuilding cricket and lifestyle of people after the war.
GJ: There is so much said about the rift between Bill O’Reilly and Sir Don Bradman. Your comments?
AM: I get this question all the time since I got along with both Tiger and Bradman equally. It is like having two people working for a multinational organisation who do not get along, but their objective at the end of the day is ensure the organisation grows and makes a profit. It does not mean that they need to go home and spend time together after work.
It was similar between Bradman and O’Reilly they had mutual respect for each other on the field, but had their own ways off the field. Both believe the other one was the best batsman or the bowler they ever played against.
GJ: You were the first person to score 100 in both innings of First-Class debut match (Only two people have done it since — Nari Contractor and Ajud Ahmed)?
AM: I don’t remember the details of the actual innings but I remember I did not even have a bat of my own and had to burrow one from St George Club cricket kit. I played at St George Club with Tiger O’Reilly, and he took me down the staircase of the pavilion and told me to pick out a bat I liked and use it for my first match for New South Wales (NSW). It proved to be a lucky bat.
GJ: The Baggy Green now has become such an iconic symbol was it similar in the past ? Did all the players discuss its value and the meaning of donning the Baggy Green?
AM: Not really. It was obviously a privilege to play for Australia, but the players did not really talk about the cap in such. There was The War, and then, all of a sudden you were playing for Australia and you would think to yourself what am I doing here. I was also extremely delighted too when I had donned my NSW cap the first time.
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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