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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Court and Bowled: extras

Work on my forthcoming book on cricket and the law continues. In the meantime, I have found a few interesting videos and other research material on the way, which I will post here from time to time.  Here is the first, an interview with the greatest cricketer of all.  It was recorded during the 1930 Ashes series, in which Bradman scored a world record 974 runs (still a record today), including the-then highest test score of 334.

The interview was given just before the Oval test, with English cricket in something of a panic.  If Bradman could annihilate them on their home turf, the feeling went, imagine what he would do at home. The former England captain Percy Fender studied him closely at the Oval and concluded the one potential weakness was in the way Bradman played short-pitched bowling.  Since he scored a double century, it cannot have been much of a weakness, but it was all the English had to go on.  Fender duly relayed his theory to the captain of the return Ashes series - one Douglas Jardine.

None of that could have been known to Bradman and his interviewer in this clip.  There is much to savour: Bradman's slightly unorthodox technique (which seemed to work alright for him in practice). The speed of his wrists and the way he keeps his head still.  The fact that he always recommended hitting the ball on the ground, but clearly smashes one over midwicket.  I used to think Ricky Ponting played the pull shot in his own style - here we have an interesting antecedent.

Bradman's clipped Australian tones are interesting as well.  I assumed that because it would have been novel for anyone speaking to camera in 1930, he was probably affecting his accent somewhat, but an Australian colleague confirms that his accent is not atypical of his generation.  What is amusing is the way in which the interviewer feeds him stock questions and Bradman gives the same sort of pat replies any player might do today - plus ca change ...

A slightly better quality version of the same clip can be found here.