‘We are the Invincibles’: A Book Review

We are the Invincibles by Anindya Dutta. Amazon.com, 2019. Kindle edition $2.87, Paperback $6.99.

Book Review

A banker by profession, Anindya Dutta has become a prolific cricket writer publishing three books in two years. His latest one We are the Invincibles goes behind Don Bradman’s victorious cricket team which toured England in 1948.

Why invincibles? The Australians toured England for five months from May to September without losing a single match ”“ neither a Test, nor a first-class or a minor match. This was something which no Australian captain had achieved before or after on an Ashes tour.

Writes author Anindya Dutta, “This book is my tribute to Bradman’s Invincibles. It is a story that has been told before, but what I have tried to do here is weave the story around the tour of the characters who played such an important part.”

The young author certainly does that.

Statistics of every Test match is detailed as also the performance of every player on the tour in 3-D effect. But the book is not about runs, wickets and catches only. Far from it! It is full of controversies, jokes, anecdotes and interesting characters.

And the biggest character was all-rounder Keith Miller. There were conflicts between extrovert Miller and no-nonsense skipper Bradman on and off the field during this historic tour. Because of his bad back fast bowler Miller was not able to bowl but could bat. When Bradman threw the ball to him to bowl, Miller declined and just threw the ball back to him.

Bradman was angry as he did not believe that Miller’s back was that bad. There was speculation that bad blood existed between the two famous Australians. Bradman was annoyed, writes Anindya, that Miller refused to bowl but went to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall after the Test.

When Miller staggered back at breakfast time, Bradman was annoyed and made Miller walk from fine leg to fine leg every over. And a spectator kindly offered Miller a bicycle! The relation between the legends was getting worse.

During this tour Miller had become friendly with Princess Margaret and was socialising with her at the Embassy Club and Kensington Palace. She presented him her royal standard, the flag given to her by the King on her 18th birthday. She attended the match at Lord’s and Miller did not disappoint her by scoring 74 swashbuckling runs.

Another Test great in the team and future Australian captain Lindsay Hassett was full of witty comments. One of his famous jokes: When he saw a Middle Easter sheikh with his 199 wives, he had said, “One more and he’s entitled to a new ball!”

During a match against Surrey, almost the entire team had followed Bradman to watch Wimbledon tennis. When stop-gap openers Neil Harvey and Sam Loxton returned to the pavilion a nearly empty dressing room greeted them!

The book abounds with such anecdotes. The climax of the book is the final Test at The Oval. Australia won by an innings but Bradman scored a second ball duck in his final innings, ending up with a Test batting average of 99.94. Four more runs and he would have ended with a fabulous average of 100.

Zero notwithstanding, Bradman was cheered all the way back to the pavilion. Spin bowler Eric Hollies who had dismissed him for a duck said wistfully, “Best ball I’ve bowled all season and they’re clapping him!”

At the end of the book, TIDU’s Kersi Meher-Homji reveals his personal encounters with four invincibles in early 1990s: Bradman, Miller, Ernie Toshack and Neil Harvey.

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