It was a horror movie, right there on my TV. We refer, of course, to the so-called English cricket team.
Dodgy Perth has already told the story of the time the English side pretended to be the crew of a meat ship in order to win a game against Wyndham Cricket Club.
So today we look back to 1932 when England played Australia at the WACA and The Don was simply awful. The tour is now remembered as the Bodyline series, but this three-day game took place before the first test in Sydney, so was the first chance to see the visitors in action.
The West Australian Cricket Association brought over five players from the Eastern States, and made up the rest of the team from locals. But what a five: Donald Bradman, Victor Richardson, Stan McCabe, Albert Lonergan and Jack Fingleton.
Trouble was, other than McCabe, none of these batsman could bowl. And, as it turned out, nor could any of the Western Australians. And they were up against Douglas Jardine’s bodyline side.
Our local bowling hero, Richard Bryant, managed to strain his leg early on the first day and had to leave the field. As a consequence, The Don was asked to take his position. Great batsman he might have been, he proved completely unsuited to this new role.
The English played the weak bowling without trouble, getting to 7/583 before becoming bored and offering the Aussies a go on the Saturday morning.
Trouble was, overnight rain made the wicket treacherous and this was where Hedley Verity was lethal. His left handed slow style made the ball fizz and kick off the pitch, and he was practically unplayable.
You want proof? Donald Bradman (c. Hammond b. Verity) scored three in the first innings. We’d like to repeat that. Three.
The huge crowd was completely unimpressed with the Australian batting display and made their feelings known. By the time the side was all out for 159, the follow on was inevitable.
The Australians responded defensively with slow, unattractive batting, and stretched out a tedious draw with 4/139. This time The Don outdid himself and got 10 (c. Pataudi b. Allen).
But some things never change. When the star player was caught in the second innings, large numbers decided they’d had enough and left the WACA. Some latecomers decided not to even bother buying a ticket when they heard Bradman was out.
And who was this Pataudi who caught Bradman, and scored 129 in the first innings?
Iftikhar Ali Khan (1910–1952) was the 8th Nawab of Pataudi and later captain of India. Known as ‘Pat’ to his English friends, Nawab is a title given to Muslim princes.
He had scoring strokes, a strong defence, quick footwork, and, above all, patience (a test match essential). Perhaps what England now needs is another empire from which they can grab great cricketers. And they need it bloody quick.