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)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

Amla feels Proteas more acclimatised to conditions

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Suresh Raina gifts Aditya Garhwal an autographed bat

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Bangladesh gain upper-hand over Zimbabwe at stumps on Day 1 of 1st Test

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

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

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone to meet South Zone in final

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: David Warner admits that Australia is not scared of big targets

Suresh Raina gifts Aditya Garhwal an autographed bat

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Younis Khan scores 26th ton to establish Pakistan record

Younis Khan becomes seventh Pakistani cricketer to score two hundreds in a Test

Virat Kohli and others with 20 ODI hundreds

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Strangers, Brothers and Cricket— the English novelist CP Snow’s lasting passion for the game

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Anil Kapoor ropes in a new director for son Harshvardhan’s next?

Apple to merge Beats Music with iTunes next year as music sales fall 14 percent in 2014: WSJ

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Pakistan vs Australia 2014, 1st Test, Day 4: 5 interesting highlights of day’s play

Shah Rukh Khan: I don’t know whether Fan will do Rs 200 crores business or not!

Dear IAF, every smartphone not just Xiaomi could be a security threat

Pakistan vs Australia 2014 1st Test, Day 3 in Pictures

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here