“It was the series that saw Sir Donald Bradman lead an Australian side for the last time to the British Isles with but a single objective – return undefeated. Invincibility was the ultimate goal, a result that had eluded every Australian captain who had ever sailed to the isles before Bradman”
“In the summer of ’48, Don Bradman led a formidable Australian team across the oceans with intent, with resolve, with enormous talent in their ranks, and with the dogged will to win all that they could. The stories around those 56 days on the voyage and the 112 days of brilliant cricket (of the 144 days spent on tour in Great Britain), have become the stuff of lore, taking on a life of their own in the telling and re-telling over the past 70-years.
After years of destruction and loss of human life in a Britain where the populace continued to face rationing, this Australian team brought back the joy of cricket at its very best. Bradman had announced before the tour that it was going to be his last and, combined with the Australians’ swashbuckling style on the field and the swagger on and off it, this was a breath of fresh air to the thousands clamouring to get into the grounds to witness history being made. Attendance records would be broken that stand uncontested seven decades later.”
Thus begins Cricketsoccer columnist Anindya Dutta’s – We are the Invincibles, one of the most enjoyable books written in recent times on the famous 1948 Ashes series.
David Firth, the world’s greatest living cricket writer, has this to say about the book:
“I enjoyed the book very much. It sparked so many boyhood memories. And I knew so many players from both sides, some of them very well. (The picture on page 71 is on my book-plate, for a start.) I hope readers appreciate that cricket was once a very different pastime, and people enjoyed it through and through, without the problems brought by modern times.”
Martin Chandler in his review on Cricketweb writes:
“What shines through above all is his [Anindya Dutta’s] fascination with a series of Test matches that were played long before he was born and in a country far away from his own. The result is an account that anyone unfamiliar with this great series will enjoy reading and which has been written with some imagination. I had, for example, when reading about Bradman’s famous dismissal for nought at the Oval in the final Test, expected to read, as I so often have, the famous words that Arlott uttered whilst on commentary. It would have been the obvious thing to do, but Dutta instead makes a much better call and chooses a humorous aside from a member of each side, from the man who bowled Bradman, Eric Hollies, for the home side, and from Sid Barnes for Australia.”
It was the series that saw Sir Donald Bradman lead an Australian side for the last time to the British Isles with but a single objective – return undefeated. Invincibility was the ultimate goal, a result that had eluded every Australian captain who had ever sailed to the isles before Bradman.
In this age of non-stop cricket, it has become fashionable to complain about player exhaustion and maintain that previous generations had it easy. Anindya Dutta dispels this mislaid notion in no uncertain manner when he talks about the schedule of the 1948 Australian team:
“In the days of long travel across the seas followed by longer tours that lasted a few months, it was customary to play a number of first-class fixtures before the real battle started on the Test arena. In fact, the amount of cricket that teams had to play far exceeded the workload of modern players notwithstanding the many formats that exist today. On a typical tour of England, there was cricket played 6 days a week over a 5-month tour. Then there was the travel to and from matches on match days by train and bus.”
There are the references to the greatest chase, hitherto, in Tests – the 404 runs to win at Leeds in 344 minutes. Bradman, like Spofforth of the famous 1882 Test, said, “Come on boys, we can win this match, we can do it.” Inspiring words indeed but very few of us, however, know that the previous night Bradman had written in his diary: “We are set 400 to win and I fear we may be defeated.”
Bradman was always aware and conscious of history. Warwick Armstrong’s 1921 team had been thwarted by an Argentinian student Clem Gibson, who took 6 wickets at the Scarborough Festival Game. Bradman’s own team of 1938 had been similarly upset during the same game by the same opponents. In 1948 however, the sobriquet of the Invincibles had to be preserved. The local team picked up six of the current England players to upset them, but Bradman countered with a full-strength Australian team. Lindwall and Bradman himself ensured that Australia would never lose the match, and rain interrupted thus ensuring a draw. Not one to take any more risks, the Skipper himself played the last two matches against Scotland. As the writer says, ‘Bradman was not one for unfinished tasks’ and rounded off the tour with a brilliant 123.
While playing against Surrey, the Australians needed 122 runs for victory. The inexperienced pair of Harvey and Loxton knocked off the runs in 20 overs and ran back jubilantly, to be greeted by an empty dressing room. The entire Australian team had followed their captain to watch the Wimbledon final and had taken all the cars. “When Loxton finally made it to the Centre Court on the Tube and sat down next to Doug Ring, he turned to Loxton and asked: ‘Tell me, Sam. Did we win?’”
We are The Invincibles is full of such nuggets and the author has managed to squeeze them all into such a delectable small volume. One can understand the amount of research that must have gone into writing such an endearing book.
As former first-class cricketer, Chinmoy Jena says in his review: “Anindya Dutta must have had the courage of his conviction to travel 70 years back to recount a tour that took place and was immortalised. This is a book more to be adored than to be dissected.”
We are the Invincibles is available on Amazon Worldwide.
United Kingdom: https://www.amazon.co.uk/We-are-Invincibles-Incredible-Bradmans/dp/1719876479
United States: https://www.amazon.com/We-are-Invincibles-Incredible-Bradmans/dp/1719876479