Sunday, August 23, 2015


AND THEN THERE WAS ONE..

1948 looms large in the depths of my memory.  War had not long ended, rationing was still in force, the winter before had been one of the longest, coldest and snowiest even on the south coast of England.   I was nine years old and in those pre-television days (for us at least) my boyhood heroes were captured through newspapers and the good old fashioned steam radio.   And in the 1948 cricket season there was no shortage of heroes; only problem was that most of them were Australian.

The picture shows `Bradman`s Invincibles,` who toured England in 1948 and were arguably the strongest, most complete cricket team ever. And even if you make allowances for England having staggered out of wartime, the Aussie touring team of that year not only beat all before them but, in some cases, played a completely different game to their hapless opponents. 

Perhaps the best illustration is their annihilation of the Essex team at Southend in May of that year.   Batting first, the Australians scored 721 runs in a day (Brown 153; Bradman 187; Loxton 120; Saggers 104....and on and on it went.)  In reply, Essex were all out for 83 in their first innings (Toshack 5-31) and all out for 187 in the second (Johnson 6-37.) There were two notable absentees from the Australian team that day - one playing, the other not.   The playing absentee was Keith Miller who, witnessing the carnage all around him and wanting no part of it, lifted his bat from the first straight ball he received and was bowled without troubling the scorers. 

The other, real absentee that day was Arthur Morris and I was saddened to learn that he died a couple of days ago at the age of 93, marked by the current Australian team wearing black armbands at The Oval Test.  Arthur (they had names like Arthur in those days) was a key member of the Australian team and one of his country`s finest opening batsmen, scoring 3,533 runs in 46 Tests, averaging 46.48.   He was the leading run scorer on the 1948 tour, and scored 196 in the final Test at The Oval - his innings being overshadowed by Bradman`s duck in his farewell innings, thus denying himself the remarkable feat of retiring with a Test Match average of 100.

And so another of the Invincibles  has left us and now there is only Neil Harvey, at the age of 86, remaining from that 1948 touring party.   And whilst it marks the departure of yet another of my boyhood heroes, it also brings back lingering, wistful memories of that year and those far away formative times.  It was, of course, a different age, a time of real austerity, a time when nine year old boys growing up in a small village learned respect and where acceptable boundaries were clearly defined.   Arthur Morris was universally respected not just for his cricketing prowess but also for simply being a  true gentleman of the game of cricket and the game of life.  And even though England have regained the Ashes, it would be remiss not to pay tribute to one of the Australian heroes of the past.   

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