From Bradman to Kohli: A Book Review by Vijay Badhwar

‘From Bradman to Kohli’ – Best of India-Australia Test Cricket

Author: Kersi Meher-Homji

Publisher: The Cricket Publishing Company

PP150; Price $45 Postage $10

Kersi Meher-Homji with Allan Border

Kersi Meher-Homji is a cricket writer and historian, statistician, as well as a scientist, – a rarity all rolled in one. Cricket has been his passion since his childhood days (talk of Vijay Hazare and his face lights up) and being a scientist/virologist is his profession.

He is a permanent fixture during cricket season at the SCG; everyone knows him, quotes him, asks him if there is a unique cricket statistic, such is his reputation since early days of Indian migration to Australia in the  early seventies. His love for cricket is such that in his spare time, even when he was working full time, he never sat idle but wrote one cricket book after another, the latest being his 15th, ”˜From Bradman to Kohli’, that charts Australia-India cricket history since Independent India came into existence.

Neil Harvey scored four centuries against India in his career

The book begins its journey right from its introduction to cricket in 1932 when they started playing Tests only against England. The Aussie connection starts with India’s tour Down Under in 1947-48 when the Australians were at their peak – ”˜Invincibles’ – with stars such as Don Bradman, Sid Barnes, Ray Lindwall and the like. Indians, too, carried their stripes with Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare and Vinoo Mankad. But they were no match for the mighty Australians while losing 0-4.

Nawab Pataudi  –  a  fine  captain
Dilip Sardesai – a class batsman

Although replete with match statistics that cricket lovers adore, the book’s strength is in its anecdotes, some funny, some historical, as it records Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in the middle of the 1947-48 tour and the team mulling over cancelling the rest of the tour.

India’s first ever Test win against Australia was in 1959 when in a magical spell at Kanpur, Jasu Patel took 9-69 in the first innings and 5-55 in the second, ending up with mind-blowing match figures of 14 for 124. “He became a national hero after only one Test,” Kersi writes. Jasu Patel was awarded with the prestigious ”˜Padma Shri’ on the following Republic Day.

B S Chandrasekhar

Readers will love the stories embedded in cricket as Kersi relates one of India’s victory in 1964 Bombay Test by seeking help to cast an evil eye on Australian hero, Norm O’Neill. “Titori Pav was a cricket fanatic but cricketers avoided him because he brought them bad luck. To be wished good luck by him resulted in the cricketer scoring a duck or dropping a sitter. To shake hands with him could result in a broken arm or catching influenza,” he writes.

A Cricket Club of India (CCI) member conceived the idea to take Titori to the club to wish Norm luck for the Test. Titori enthusiastically shook hands with Norm O’Neill, and, sure enough, with even the Australian captain, not knowing O’Neill’s whereabouts when he was to bat, found out that he had developed severe stomach pains and unable to bat. Australia lost the Test.

Sachin Tendulkar with Kapil Dev

The book is very detailed with its 29 chapters covering minute details of all the Indo-Australian matches – riots in the 1969 Bombay Test, the revolution brought about by media mogul Kerry Packer with World Series Cricket (WSC), Kersi providing eye-witness accounts of many Tests played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, especially the infamous Sydney Test of 2008 that soured the relations, healed somewhat only recently with IPL bringing cricketers together the world over.

The last two chapters of “From Bradman to Kohli’ are devoted to best Test sides for Australia and India which carry a lot of cricket statistics to back the selection Kersi has made. Being a scientist, Kersi is logical, I should say, clinical, in his approach to omit from the Australian Test XI, Shane Warne, the best spinner cricket has ever seen.

Right, or wrong, readers can form their opinions.

“From Bradman to Kohli’ should interest Australian and Indian cricket lovers immensely, not only for a one-time read but also as an anthology to cricket history between the two nations.

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