Home > Features > Moments in history >

When Nat King Cole tried to lift Alan Davidson’s spirits

Nat King Cole © Getty Images
Nat King Cole © Getty Images

March 1955. Alan Davidson had just become a father for the second time, but he was miles away from home in Jamaica, morose and limping because of an injured ankle. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the day when the celebrated American singer Nat King Cole tried to lift the spirits of the Australian all-rounder.

The often exciting lives of touring cricketers come with the downside of prolonged absences from home and far from perfect family equations.

There can of course be triumphs off the field.

For instance, the 21-year-old Neil Harvey stumbled upon the 16-year-old Iris Greenish at a dance at Johannesburg’s South Africa Party Club during the 1949-50 tour. After the girl’s father told the newspapers that he would not consent to the engagement until she had turned 18, Harvey played out time and married her on his return from the 1953 Ashes tour.

Similarly, during the same Ashes tour, Colin McDonald met Lois Ahlston, an Argus artist. They were engaged in August 1955 and married at the end of the 1956 tour at Chelsea’s St Columba’s church, with Ron Archer acting as the best man and Ian Craig and Len Maddocks as ushers.

However, not always are tours such happy occasions for the heart. Davidson, the famed colleague of Harvey and McDonald, was one defining example.

Especially in the days of yore, with email, Skype and webcam yet unheard of, wives were often left at home and becoming a father was frequently an experience of yearning rather than joy. More often than not, the cricketer was informed of his fatherhood in short, economical telegrams cruelly shorn of words or cheer.

Davidson’s first son was born while Australia were playing the fourth Test of the 1953 Ashes series in England. The boy was named Neil, after his father’s great colleague [Neil Harvey] in the Australian side.

Things did not improve as he progressed along the family path. Davidson was not around for the birth of his second son either. Australia were playing Jamaica during the Caribbean tour of 1955 when he received the telegram from his bank colleagues. To make matters worse not only was he away from home, he was also not playing cricket. Having severely damaged an ankle, he cut a morose forlorn figure, walking around Courtleigh Manor on crutches and re-reading the telegram: “Congratulations on new son. Sorry about sympathy pains.”

A guest at the hotel was the celebrated Nat King Cole. And when the American singer came to know about the homesickness of the left-arm pace bowler, he tried to comfort him by singing, “Pretend You’re Happy When You’re Blue”, followed by “Dinner for One Please James.”

It did not help.

Later Davidson confessed, “Made me feel 10 times worse, actually.”

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (08:50 IST)   at Sydney

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Chittagong

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

More

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 87 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Melbourne

Australia won by 3 wkts

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 20, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled(Match rescheduled to 21/11/2014)

Photos

Australia vs South Africa, 3rd ODI at Canberra

Videos

SL vs Eng: Buttler practices wicketkeeping in nets

PCB’s biggest challenge is to bring back international cricket to Pakistan: Subhan Ahmad

Tim Southee’s 50 Test sixes and related records

India vs Australia 2014: India may have heavy dose of pace in store in 1st Test

Ross Taylor’s crucial knock against Pakistan will boost his sub-par subcontinent record

Stuart Binny — can the all-rounder be a trump card for India in ODIs?

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014

Live Cricket Score Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney

Live Streaming: Australia vs South Africa, 5th ODI at Sydney

Live Scorecard: Australia vs South Africa, 5th ODI at Sydney

Bhuvneshwar Kumar says rhythm is key ahead of India’s tour of Australia 2014-15

India vs Australia 2014-15: Harry Conway replaces Gurinder Sandhu in CA XI squad

Is Dhawal Kulkarni a contender for India’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

World Cup 1992: Arjuna Ranatunga masterminds first ever 300-plus ODI chase

India vs Australia 2014: How crucial are India’s practice games ahead of the first Test?

Rohit Sharma: India are serious contenders

South Africa may lose momentum ahead of ICC World Cup 2015

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

Selfie stick listed in Time magazine’s best inventions list

PSN, 2K, and Windows Live hack claims by DerpTrolling are reportedly a hoax

Bigg Boss 8 highlights: Karishma Tanna and Dimpy Ganguly safeguarded; Ali Quli lashes out at Dimpy Ganguli for calling him ‘Gay’

Live Cricket Score Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney

Zee TV launches it’s newest show Satrangi Sasural!

How many calories do bananas have?

Is Dhawal Kulkarni a contender for India’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

5 smart tricks to make your grocery shopping healthy

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here