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In the company of a legend

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Tom Fordyce | 09:38 UK time, Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sydney, New South Wales

It's been a giddy few weeks out here during this Ashes series - innings victories, record-breaking partnerships, calamitous collapses and the urn retained by England for the first time in almost 25 years.

The thrills and spills have been wonderful, but at times it's been hard to keep the heroics in perspective. Which is why, this Sunday, I find myself in a small room at the Australia Club in the centre of Sydney, sitting opposite an avuncular 88-year-old Ashes legend by the name of Arthur Morris.

If you don't know who Arthur is, you're going to enjoy meeting him. In five series against England, three of them victorious, he scored 2,080 runs at an average of 50.74 with eight centuries. Only three Australians have a better average against England. The principal among them, Don Bradman, was Arthur's best mate.

He was playing grade cricket against adults at the age of 12, and on his first-class debut aged 18 he scored centuries in both innings - the first man in history to do so. All of which makes it somewhat surprising to hear that in his first two Tests, when he scored just two and five, he was "scared as hell".

"It was quite something ," he says. "When I walked out, I thought, 'What the hell am I doing here?

"I think I've got an inferiority complex. It probably comes from growing up in the country where you think everyone in the city must be so superior in every way to us country fellas.

"I would smoke a cigarette before going out to bat. It was the thing to do in those days, from looking at the movies - the drama of it, standing on the balcony, drawing on a cigarette and saying, 'Ah, what shall I do today?'"

Never has self-doubt been less appropriate. Arthur announced himself in Ashes cricket with 503 runs in the first series after the World War II, averaging 71 and scoring centuries at Melbourne and Adelaide, but it was during Australia's 1948 tour to England that he secured his place in the pantheon.

These were the Invincibles, arguably the greatest side in cricketing history, unbeaten in 31 first-class tour fixtures, feted by royalty, watched by record-breaking crowds, 4-0 victors in the Ashes series and heroes to a nation for ever more.

Morris averaged 87 on the 1948 "Invincibles" tour to England

The tour lasted 144 days. They played on 112 of them. At five weeks, the boat journey to England alone lasted longer than most modern tours.

"Now that really is living," chuckles Arthur. "Somebody asked me one day, how did you keep fit on the ship? I said to him, 'Well, we'd get up at 9 o'clock and have breakfast, and then I'd wander up on deck and read for a while, and then the bar would open at 12 o'clock so we'd have a few drinks, and then we'd have a snooze for a few hours in the afternoon, and when you woke up you'd put your black tie on for the first cocktail party of the evening...'

"We'd have about three weeks on arrival before we really started playing, so you'd play a bit of squash, practise as much as you could. It was a long tour, so you didn't want to be in the shape to run 100 yards at the start of it."

Morris, a short, left-handed opener, was series top scorer, pulling and lofting his way to 696 runs at an average of 87 in Tests, the only player on either side to score three centuries. "A menacing bouncer colliding with Morris' bat," wrote journalist Ray Robinson, "was like a rocky fist against an iron jaw."

"We had huge crowds everywhere, mainly because Don Bradman was the big star," says Arthur, still in tip-top shape as he approaches his tenth decade. "We were just the supporting actors. And so we should be, because he was a great player and a great man.

"It was a marvellous series - it was hard going, because playing six days a week wasn't easy. We had a very good team, and England had some great players too - Hutton, Compton, Edrich, Evans, Bedser. We were able to be a little bit better, and we did very well. The more you play the better you become."

Don Bradman is out for a duck in his final Test. Arthur Morris was batting at the other endMorris had the best seat in the house as Bradman went for a duck in his final Test innings

Arthur's modesty tells a fraction of the tale. The team's finest hour came during the fourth Test at Headingley. Set 404 to win from just 345 minutes on the final day, they were expected to capitulate by lunch.

"Don wrote in his book, 'I fear we will be beaten tomorrow', and I thought that was an understatement," remembers Morris. "My feeling was, 'I'm bloody sure we're going to get beaten tomorrow!' It was a dry wicket, and the ball was starting to turn a bit."

When Bradman joined his young team-mate at the crease, English golden boy Denis Compton bowling his tweakers, 347 were needed in 257 minutes.

"Don wasn't picking his wrong 'un. Jack Crapp dropped him at slip off a very difficult chance, but I was determined to get at Denis. After lunch I really got after him, and drove him off the back foot, lofted. I gave him a bit of a thump, a bit more than Don at that stage. But I had to get him out of the way, so we did.

"We really battled on the first morning, and we thought after lunch, there might be a chance we can draw this. We got on top, and suddenly there was this thought: we could win this. And that's how it happened.

"It's just one of those things. We were both on top of our games, we had a bit of luck early, and their captain had to keep his field up because he was going for a win. So if you got one through the field it was four."

Bradman suffered a fibrositis attack. Morris had to shield him from the strike. Despite that the pair added 167 during the afternoon session. By tea Morris was on 150, his side 288-1. When he was eventually dismissed for 182, the partnership of 301 in 217 minutes had taken Australia to within 46 runs of victory.

"It was a battle all the way through," recalls Morris. "It's never been done before or since, to get 400 on the last day to win a Test match."

He beams at the memory. "I think it was the best I ever batted, and it gave me a great thrill, because when everybody believes at the start of play that you must be beaten, you do too. The English movie people were there, so I thought, let's see how this looks. But I've never seen one second of it - I think they got it and destroyed it!"

It took me a little time to track Arthur down - four weeks, in fact. There were old phone numbers, dead ends, out-of-date addresses and shrugged shoulders. Even Cricket Australia had no idea where he was.

Then last week, during a trip to National Sports Museum at the MCG made possible by the early finish to the fourth Test, I spotted a glass case containing his bat, whites and pad from the '48 tour. A plea to the manager led to a word with the archivist and a number for a retirement complex two hours outside Sydney. Seldom has a little wait and effort seemed so worthwhile.

The last Test of that 1948 tour was also Bradman's final Test match. As every cricket follower knows, he needed to score just four to end his career with a Test average of over 100. Morris had the best view in the house.

"Years later I was at a luncheon, talking to a chap who didn't know much about cricket. He started talking about how Bradman got a duck in his last match. So I said, 'Yes, I was there.' And he says, 'Really? What were you doing over there?' And I said, 'I was up the other end.'

"He went, '"Oh. Did you make any runs?' I said, 'Yup - 196'. And I thought I'd emphasise it, so I added, 'Run out'. The fact of Don getting the duck was the big thing. If I'd got 450 I don't think people would have realised I was playing.

"When Don had arrived at the crease, the English players had all gathered round and sung 'For he's a jolly good fellow', and it was all very nice.

"I don't think anybody knew what that duck meant. I'm not sure Don knew. He got two very good balls. The wicket was doing a bit, obviously, nice and juicy for Eric Hollies, and he bowled a leg-spinner and then a wrong 'un right on the right spot, and he bowled Don.

"There was silence, complete silence. I think if it happened today, the greatest player out like that, poor old Eric wouldn't have got more than 20m before they'd all have tackled him and jumped on his back, and the place would have gone mad. But there was just silence. Although I think I did hear one voice say, 'Jolly well bowled, Eric'."

Bradman was a constant in Morris's life - childhood hero, team captain, lifelong friend.

"I'll never forget the first time I met him. My family lived in Dungog, a little town of 2,500 people. He was travelling through, and had a little afternoon tea laid on for him," he says.

"I'm eight years old, walking round in no shoes or socks, a kid in the country. My father, a schoolteacher, was mad-keen on cricket. He said to me, "Arthur, meet Mr Don Bradman'.

"And my first words were, 'I'm pleased to meet you, Mr Bradman'. There I was, a child - never in a million years would I dream that I would play under him as captain."

As a baggy green stalwart, Morris enjoyed opening with Sid Barnes. But he loved batting
with Bradman. In partnership the pair averaged 108, two boys from the backwoods putting the world's best bowlers to the sword.

"We must have liked each other, because neither of us ran the other bloke out!" he smiles. "There was none of this going up and down the pitch talking to one another - we just left each other alone. Occasionally you might say something. Like, 'help'!"

He laughs again, and looks out of the window across to the Opera House and naval dockyards at Woolloomooloo.

Morris is an admirer of England captain Andrew Strauss

"Don was everybody's idol," he continues. "To play with him was a wonderful experience; he was a great captain, a good friend, a person you could rely on. I had great admiration for him.

"He was a very private person - a very shy person too. He would come down to the pub with us for a couple of drinks after the day's play, but there wasn't really much he could do. He used to get 100 letters a day, at least, and he would answer the lot of them.

"He had this great belief that he wanted to represent Australia on the cricket field, and he wanted to be somebody who would be remembered and admired. Maybe it comes from our old days, but we wanted to prove that we're equal to everybody else, that we're good, decent people, and that's the way he was."

Morris could find cricket a difficult sport. "We'd go out to the middle as openers, Sid and I, and we'd discuss what we were going to do, but it was a nerve-wracking thing. Particularly when you get out for a duck, and you have to walk all the way back out again, and you're waiting for them to clap but nobody does, and you can see them all thinking, 'What an idiot this bloke is...' You can feel all those little stabs coming at you from everywhere."

But he also enjoyed himself immensely. The stories from those tours are legion - the adoration of a public starved of fun and frivolity by the preceding wars, trips to shows and nightclubs, the team bus stopping so often at pubs that its average speed was reported to be 16kph.

"Occasionally, as I was single, I might take a girl out for dinner or something... They never came off my tab, of course - they probably came off the captain or the vice-captain's tag, but anyway..."

It was on a trip to London's Victoria Palace theatre during the Ashes tour of 1953 that Morris first noticed a young English showgirl named Valerie Hudson, a dancer with the Crazy Gang vaudeville show.

After a hurried courtship, the pair married. Valerie, just a few years after moving to Australia with her new husband, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She tried to keep the illness secret to prevent it distracting Morris from his cricketing career but failed. Her decline and death hastened his retirement at the age of just 33.

Half a century later, Morris is one of the three oldest Ashes combatants left alive, beaten to an unwanted honour by Sam Loxton and Reg Simpson. He has few regrets.

"I would have liked to have captained Australia regularly, but it wasn't to be," he shrugs cheerily. "I was vice-captain to Lindsay Hassett for five seasons, and we were a good team. I never lost a game as vice-captain."

He can even laugh at the way he was sacked as skipper of New South Wales, informed by local pressmen rather than the committee, supposedly given the boot for the crime of being "too genial".

"I know there were a couple of selectors who didn't like me," he says, chuckling again. "One of them certainly thought there was something of a stink about me. He said, 'Morris wears these suede shoes, and he even wears his jacket with a cut up the back or something'. He probably thought I spoke with an English accent, and that would have been absolute disaster."

Morris was named in both Australia's Team of the Century and the country's Cricket Hall of Fame. As he sees me to the door, we discuss the series in progress and the prognosis for this week's fifth Test at the nearby SCG.

"The English side is one of the best sides I've seen," he says. "I think they're well run, the captain I admire very much - his attitude, his control of the game and the team. They've bowled well, they've fielded well and they've batted well. That's not to knock our fellas - they're a good side, but they've run into a really top one."

Frank Tyson called Morris "one of cricket's patricians... endowed with a genteel equanimity, without seeming aloof or less than cordial and friendly". John Arlott, doyen of Test Match Special, said he was, "one of the best-liked cricketers of all time - charming, philosophical and relaxed".

As I wave farewell at the door, I find myself smiling in silent agreement.

You can hear the full interview between Tom and Arthur on Test Match Special during lunch on the second day of the fifth Test - and it is available to download via the TMS podcasts page.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Great player Morris - he certainly made our all-time Australian Ashes XI as does a certain D.G Bradman.

    http://thereversesweep.typepad.com/blog/all-time-australian-ashes-xi/

    and for good measure, here is our England Ashes XI: http://thereversesweep.typepad.com/blog/all-time-england-ashes-xi/

    Keep up the good work Tom

  • Comment number 2.

    Brilliant read, cheers Tom.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great article Tom; splendid read.

    I knew Morris was a fine cricketer but it is good to know a bit more about him.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wonderful article about a wonderful man. Many many thanks for this Tom. It must have been an honour to meet Arthur.

  • Comment number 5.

    What a hugely informative and enhancing read. Cheers!

  • Comment number 6.

    That is a truly moving story. Imagine the legends who live around the corner from us all. Good effort Tom.
    Stephen, Moffat Beach Qld.

  • Comment number 7.

    Lovely article Tom, thank you

  • Comment number 8.

    Very nice Tom, glad to see you taking the time and effort to bring this clearly wonderful chap into view

  • Comment number 9.

    Never written on one of these blogs before but I felt compelled to write in praise of the article. More like this please, Tom.

  • Comment number 10.

    Tom, a great story about a very good player and a great time for test cricket. I sometimes wish we could go back to that time for ideals and behaviour but must admit I do like a lot of aspects of the modern game. Please do more stories like this of the yesteryear players who made test cricket what it is.

  • Comment number 11.

    What a a lovely man and thanks to the both of you for that enchanting trip down memory lane.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well done tom, its nice to know we still have gentlemen in our game.

  • Comment number 13.

    Your writings Tom have for me absolutely made this series. Another excellent and authoritative article - excellent stuff.

  • Comment number 14.

    If I was to pick an all time hero, it would be Hedley Verity, not many would argue that I think!

  • Comment number 15.

    Wasn't Morris meant to be Bedser's rabbit? Some rabbit!
    I'm intrigued that he says he didn't lose as a vice captain: the first Ashes celebrations that I dimly remember were in 1953 - did he miss the Oval test match? If so that might of course have made the difference, although it's impossible to say any such thing for certain.

  • Comment number 16.

    A superb read, thanks Tom. Particularly liked the on-ship fitness routine. Arthur, a great fella for sure. Pure legend!

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    Tom, I applaud your dedication, you are a credit to this great game and to the craft of journalism. Well done on yet another well-thought-out piece of work. The quality and sensitivity of the end result is a pleasure to imbibe. Thank you.

  • Comment number 19.

    Shame Cricket Australia had lost touch with Arthur - the cricket world had certainly not forgotten him last July, when he gave the first address at Alec Bedser's memorial service at Southwark Cathedral. I attended with a mate from work and couldn't believe I was in the presence of so many of my cricketing heroes. But how can you write about Morris without mentioning his nickname - Bedser's Bunny?

  • Comment number 20.

    As others have said, what a lovely piece.
    It warmed the cockles on a dull morning.
    Cheers Tom, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your articles, the only blot being the patronising comments about Tim Bresnan's mother that did you no credit.

  • Comment number 21.

    What a great start to the New Year, reading such an interesting and informative article. Arthur Morris, what a wonderful cricketer and lovely man.

  • Comment number 22.

    thanks Tom, another fantastic piece and one of the best so far.

  • Comment number 23.

    I've been watching cricket for 3 years now, and this piece has been a piece of invaluable education on the history of the game. Thanks a lot Tom.

  • Comment number 24.

    Great article Tom, and I've enjoyed all your pieces through the year. It is lovely to hear from these greats from the past so well done for tracking him down. Arthur sounds a lovely character with so many tales to tell. Cricket is a great sport for recounting tales of days gone by, even at village cricket level. But the old Test players stories are even more thrilling to listen to. Can you imagine what Swanny will be like in 30/40 years time recounting his tales from the Ashes of 2010/11?
    Keep up the great work Tom, love reading your articles.

  • Comment number 25.

    Most enjoyable and interesting article Tom.

    I lived in SE Queensland from 1987 t0 2005 and through a friend some 40 years older than me, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sam Loxton socially and becoming good friends with him both socially and sometimes on the Golf Course.

    Fascinating fellows these old members of "The Invincibles" and Arthur Morris sounds as as modest about his own achievements as Sam was. If you care to speak with Sam I will be happy to help facilitate a contact for you for I know that Sam loves a good cricket yarn with anyone who really understands the game of cricket.

    All of that team seemed to hold Bradman in the highest esteem as a player, catain and most of them as a team mate - certainly Sam also did. Sam's views on Test and other forms of cricket during the 1990s were and probably still are worth hearing.

    The team were not called "The Invincibles" for no good reason and I would be very surprised if most Australians, players and public alike, did not still regard them as the finest team of all time, certainly from Australia.

    Very good read, as have all your articles been throughout the tour - both to read and think about and also to read the exchange of comments and to participate from time to time. Well done, and I'm sure I speak for the large majority.

  • Comment number 26.

    Tom this has been a great read as have all the others, I;ve just been reading yesterdays posts, very very funny, the yorkshrelad was brilliant.
    He has shown with todays post that he does have some respect.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tom,

    Your writing has been top stuff throughout the series. Another great article, thanks for bringing us this story. A lovely read.

  • Comment number 28.

    Fabulous article...and what a reminder of what tours used to involve. Didn't the 1948 team play every county, 5 tests and a few festival games as well? I just love the thought of a touring bus full of fabulously talented larrikins, sports scholars and cricket geniuses touring England stopping off at wayside inns for a few jars when they fancied it, but playing hard as nails when required to.
    Romantic nostalgia of course...but what a warm glow this piece gave. Wonder how KP, Swanny and the rest of them would have suited that lifestyle...and what the Don might have made of a sprinkler dance!

  • Comment number 29.

    Brilliant article, thanks very much!

  • Comment number 30.

    A lovely and most enjoyable article; what a lovely fella!

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done Tom - that's a terrific article and a wonderful read.

  • Comment number 32.

    If he's 88, he is approaching his 10th decade, not his 9th.

    Pedantic.

  • Comment number 33.

    Tom: you have surpassed yourself with this article - which given the quality of your previous articles takes some doing.

    I am delighted that you took the time and trouble to track down Arthur Morris and to spend time with him.

    I hope that this piece, and some of your previous articles,will appear in print so that they are preserved for future enjoyment and can reach a wider audience.

  • Comment number 34.

    Many thanks for this wonderful article about a great and humble cricketer, a model for others to emulate but unfortunately the modern cricketers, so well paid, humulity is not their forte. A great batsman and I used to love the commentary when I was young in Calcutta listening to the scores between Australia and England

  • Comment number 35.

    This and 'Australain Cricketers I have Feared' are great Tom, really thoroughly enjoyed them.

  • Comment number 36.

    That is as good as it gets.
    I am old enough to remember the events of the `48 tour (I was 10 years old)
    I also well remember Eric Hollies bowl out Bradman,it was just as you describe (or how Arthur Morris described to you) I was a Warks supporter and Hollies was one of my heros (and one of the worlds worst batsman)
    The other great Left hand opening bat from the Antipodes at the time played for Warks against The Aussies (Martin Donneley)
    Once again .... a 1st class article.

  • Comment number 37.

    Truly a great player but always in the shadow of "The Don". By the way, Tom, if he's 88 he's already in his ninth decade. The first decade is the 0 - 9 one, or in modern parlacne, the 1 - 10 one.

  • Comment number 38.

    A wonderfully touching article Tom, expertly written. It has been great to read your pieces over the course of this tour, as they are always balanced, considered and well researched. Many congratulations.

  • Comment number 39.

    Excellent work Tom. Pity you didn't take Kevin Pietersen with you.

  • Comment number 40.

    The biggest surprise I got from the entirety of this blog was the photograph of Arthur Morris now, at 88. I suppose we carry around a permanent photo of the way they were then. Neither do I carry around much of a memory of him being "avuncular," certainly not with a bat in his hand! hehehe

    I saw Morris bat a few times; I "heard him bat" many more times, on what we used to call "the wireless." If I remember the 1948 tour well enough, Morris's opening partner Sid Barnes caught one hell of a blow while fielding and provoked all sorts of wireless consternation about standing in suicide positions.

    Of the famous 1948 moment, one apocryphal story was that Bradman was so overcome with emotion tears blinded his eye to Hollies' two deliveries. It was certainly an emotional moment. England's captain was Norman Yardley. As Bradman approached the wicket, he called for three cheers. My father assured my brother and me, "Now you'll see something." - Did we ever 'see something!?' - It's true it went quiet. I didn't even dare look at my father, because he'd been wrong. Palpably wrong! In an age when fathers were never wrong!

    In 1953, although the jig was up before play began on the final day, Miller & Lindwall gave it a blast until only 3 or 4 runs were needed. Then Hassett brought himself on - a sure signal that the Ashes were forfeit - and finally Arthur Morris. - And if I may take the liberty of apostrophe, although he remains my highly respected senior, "Arthur, mate, great batsman though you were, your left-arm lollipops took runs off-ration."

  • Comment number 41.

    A great trip down memory lane... someone who had previously been a Top Trumps card without knowing a great deal more about him. From a legendary era.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tom, that is a SUPERB article.

    I could read stuff like that all day, everyday.

    Interesting that scoring rates could be so high in those days. And the tragic tale of Mrs. Morris (so reminiscent of Glen McGrath's suffering) compounds the sense of the downright decency of the man.

    Perhaps test cricket hasn't changed in all respects. It's so difficult for recent generations (I'm 50 and include myself among the ignorant) to imagine what cricket was like during what comes across so often as a golden age; and so easy to mock it with uneven comparisons.

    Your warm article redresses the balance a little. It also sheds light on why Eng/Aus rivalry is so intense and yet once so chivalrous.

  • Comment number 43.

    At the risk of masking your big head even bigger, I'll add to the plaudits you've received above me and will receive below me. Your blogs throughout this tour have been infused with humour, intelligence, and - with this piece - a deference to the great history of cricket. Very well done.

    Cheers.

  • Comment number 44.

    I was at that Headingley 4th test in 1948. I had to queue at 6.30 every morning, from Thursday onwards, and it was a full house each day. The temperature varied between 75F and 90F each day. Apart from the wonderful score that Australia made from 12.30pm on the final day of 404 for 3 wickets, therewas wonderful opening partnerships of over 160 and 120, by Hutton & Washbrook, beuatiful fast bowling of Lindwall, Miller and Johnston, a brilliant 111 from Neil Harvey, who was only 21 years old. It was called the greatest ever Test in the UK, and maybe, it still is.!!!!!!!!!!!!! Malcolm Shillan

  • Comment number 45.

    Your commentry was great!!!!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    I really hope Collingwood and Swann have amazing matches to shut Papa Shango up!

  • Comment number 47.

    Journalism is an oft-derided profession. But once in a while, someone comes along with such a loving instinct for his subject, who so senses the power of an understated story simply told, who recognises those moments when sport can transcend winning and losing, who lets the unassuming storyteller illuminate the past while revealing the mores of the modern day in the reflected light. Good work.

  • Comment number 48.

    Just to add my echo to the chorus of how much your blogs have added to this whole ashes experience. Not having a tv the well written word has a lot to give. Many thanks for your Frank funny and illuminating style. Are you reporting after the ashes too or is that it for now?So much for now?

  • Comment number 49.

    Thanks for an excellent article Tom. Arthur Morris was an outstanding batsman (much more so than he has been given credit for). He played hard and to win but he was a true gentleman of the game, he knew how to behave. A pity that more Australian players from 1970 onwards chose not to follow his example.

    P.S - if I may correct you Arthur played in the Ashes series of 1946-47, 1948, 1950-51 (which Australia won) 1953 and 1954-55 (which England won), so he was not victorious in four out of five Ashes series.

  • Comment number 50.

    This is my 3rd time through the article - just a great read. I know its a different era but he's a real character and a gent. Puts some of our modern day stars in the shade really.

  • Comment number 51.

    A wonderful and touching article Tom. I always enjoy this blog (and by the way your book with Ben Dirs is extremely funny). What's lovely about cricket is the way it builds friendships across teams and nations, and how so much of the pleasure of the game is from the yarns that surround it. Its not just down to the ferocity of the competition (though of that there is clearly no doubt). The interviews with Justin Langer and others on here also show that many profoundly decent people are still involved and that the great story continues. Of course TMS and the BBC coverage epitomise this side of the game and your interview is a sheer pleasure. Thanks and happy new year

  • Comment number 52.

    40. At 4:32pm on 02 Jan 2011, FleetJackHobbs wrote:
    In 1953, although the jig was up before play began on the final day, Miller & Lindwall gave it a blast until only 3 or 4 runs were needed. Then Hassett brought himself on - a sure signal that the Ashes were forfeit - and finally Arthur Morris. - And if I may take the liberty of apostrophe, although he remains my highly respected senior, "Arthur, mate, great batsman though you were, your left-arm lollipops took runs off-ration."

    ===================

    FleetJack, I can't top that, but I can try to add to it...

    Arthur Morris was often referred to as "Alec Bedser's bunny" as it was Alec who usually took his wicket and often cheaply (mind you, in the 1953 series he was just about the only England bowler who took wickets). In the 3rd Test in 1953 Arthur Morris was brought on for a bowl when the match was completely dead due to rain (he actually bowled an over a two quite often in that series) and with only an hour or so left, finally finished off the England first innings by clean bowling Alec Bedser. The pair then walked off, arm in arm, with Morris proclaiming loudly "I have to look after MY bunny".

    The game finished on a bizarre note with Australia collapsing to 35-8 before time was called, although there was never any chance of a result.

  • Comment number 53.

    Mr Fordyce

    Excellent article.

    Have you thought of meeting John Woodcock, the former Cricket correspondent of The Times.
    I'm sure he would have some great tales to tell.

    CMJ will know Mr. Woodcock.

  • Comment number 54.

    One of the wonderful things about cricket is how it honours its' past, and in such a warming way. Thank you Tom for continuing that great tradition.
    #42 Don't forget that in those days the over rates were 20+ per hour. My very sketchy research suggests that typical scoring rates per over were similar to today i.e between 3 and 4. Nevertheless, scoring 404 in the last innings was a very considerable achievement.

  • Comment number 55.

    evning all, Mr Fordyce, a brilliant article yes, do you think you could do one on my hero, Hedley Verity?
    ps your grate on strictly.

  • Comment number 56.

    Following up my previous post (#54)

    On day 5, England went from 362/8 to 365/8 declared. Australia scored 404/3 in 114.1 overs at 3.53 per over. Source : Cricinfo

  • Comment number 57.

    #55. I think an appropriate time would be next time an Ashes Test takes place at Headingley. Patience, my friend !

  • Comment number 58.

    #55 this isn't the right time or place, do as #57 has recommended if you must.

  • Comment number 59.

    On a more appropriate note, what a great article! Fantastic to read about someone so prolific while they're still alive so that they can impart some of their memories to a modern audience.

  • Comment number 60.

    #57 ok pal
    #58 dont be so disrespectful

  • Comment number 61.

    Great article; says so much about sport, the spirit in which it should be played and the man himself.

    Should be required reading for any young sportsperson - and not just those who play cricket.

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm not about to get dragged into some bizarre childish game with you following a wonderful article like this. Show some respect to the tone that everybody else has shown! This is a wonderful look back at the great career of an Ashes great, and all you want to do is demean the feedback.

    You should be ashamed.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    Tom, your blog has been wonderful every day but this has been my favourite article. I'm amazed at the quality and quantity. I'll be writing an inferior one for the world cup in India/Sir Lanka so maybe see you there...

    Bradman's average of 99.04 is one of the most famous numbers in Australia. I've even heard a rumour that some enthusiasts have searched the scorebooks to find him 4 runs that were wrongly recorded. I love the image of the England team singing "For he's a jolly good fellow" and a young Morris living the dream on the ship over. Great stuff.

    One last question. What with all this doubt surrounding Clarke as new captain, am I crazy to suggest Watson as an alternative? Hussey is too old otherwise he'd be great too. No doubt the aussies have a big change coming when Ponting does step down/retire but I think people are over-exaggerating their so called 'lack of leaders' in the team.

    Can't wait to see how Khawaja and Beer perform!

  • Comment number 65.

    Dear Tom/BBC

    Is there something that can be done about posts such as the above that are completely against the rest of the tone of all the other contributions, including that of the main article? I'm sure there are places on the BBC website for levity, but this particular article isn't about that... unless I've got something badly wrong?

    I refuse to respond any further to the immaturity being displayed by the above post-er.

    Many thanks.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Un pedant écrit :

    #64 - the famous number is actually 99.94

  • Comment number 68.

    Friends of ours live in the same retirement complex that is mentioned in Tom Fordyce's article and are in turn friends of Arthur. I was thrilled when, as a surprise, they arranged for Arthur to send me a signed Christmas greeting. It certainly helped to warm up a snowy Christmas!

    So it added to my pleasure when I came upon this beautifully written article about one of my favourite cricketers of all-time. As a youngster I marvelled at Arthur's batting achievements and read avidly about him.

    Cricket is such a different game nowadays (alas, not always for the better). All too often players and fans are ignorant of, or have forgotten about, some of the greats of yesteryear. Arthur Morris is certainly one of those and this article also brought out what a great character and person he is. His warmth and his love of the game were brought out so well. Good on you Arthur (and Tom).

  • Comment number 69.

    Excellent blog, Tom

  • Comment number 70.

    It's interesting to compare-and-contrast with those days. Moriss had to over-achieve for years to gain relatively little recognition compared to today's superstars, and for far less money. Then he apparently suffered the indignity of dismissal as new South Wales captain for the wrong trousers, shoes, shirt or accent. To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that has yet happened to Kevin Pietersen or his agent.

    It shows that, in cricket at least, some things have got better. He certainly deserves any and all recognition he now gets from these kind of articles.

    However, some things, apparently, haven't changed much since those days: What was the role of the press about his learning of his demotion, instead of learning it directly from the committee? Would Arthur Morris now trust a 'committee' more than the 'press'? He's probably too nice to say.

  • Comment number 71.

    Can only agree with what has been said. Great read, great man.

  • Comment number 72.

    "If you don't know who Arthur is, you're going to enjoy meeting him."

    A fine piece of understatement; congratulations on tracking him down, and thankyou very much for sharing. It's always nice to "meet" a real star of the past, but the fact that he seems like such a thoroughly nice bloke and not just a great batting average is what really makes it. I look forward to hearing the interview on Tuesday.

  • Comment number 73.

    Happy to add my appreciation to this post and your other recent articles, Tom. How about printing out a copy and sending it to Arthur, so he can see what esteem he's held in.

    Seems like a lovely bloke, and probably rather modest - so definitely worth the effort.

  • Comment number 74.

    Thanks for all the kind comments, gang - glad you enjoyed the piece. Meeting Arthur was both a pleasure and a privilege. I could have happily talked to him all day long.

  • Comment number 75.

    Wasn't Hammond playing during the same period. Was it just a co-incidence that all these great batsmen (with very high averages) were playing at the same time or was batting easier ?

  • Comment number 76.

    Tom, it is a wonderful piece. Mind you, I find them all pretty good. let's hope that you can Blog good news tomorrow, although it is probable that I won't be able to read it (I have a commitment with some of your colleagues from Manchester).

  • Comment number 77.

    sorry 99.94 is obviously what i meant, the cricket gods forgive me...

  • Comment number 78.

    Thanks for this article Tom, very enjoyable and touching. Yet another thing to savour about this season down under.
    I agree with Arthur Morris about Strauss' captaincy. Strauss doesn't really get the credit he deserves. You can see how the other players respect him. He should have been captain before Flintoff and Pietersen. At least the selectors got there in the end.

  • Comment number 79.

    Short film of Lords 1948.

    http://www.timeimage.org.uk/

    Click the link "Digitised Films", it's called Cricket!

  • Comment number 80.

    Reading this article is both a joyful and sad experience. Despite all the runs and the achievements, all of that is put into perspective by the tragic death of Valerie Hudson. The other sadness for me is that I'll never get to experience the ethos of cricket as it was in the days of the Invincibles. The modern professional game makes true athletes of cricketers, of that I have no doubt. Whether the modern professional game allows the artistic side of cricket to flourish as it once did is open to debate.

    A superb article, Mr Fordyce.

  • Comment number 81.

    Again, just echoing all of the above. Another great article Tom.

  • Comment number 82.

    This lovely article about a cricket legend of the past really made my day.
    Arthur Morris is certainly a warm funny man with a lot of humility,alas many cricketers would do well to read this article and follow his and the Don's example.
    It's a shame Athur couldn't read this and answer a few questions for me.
    Just how good was Harold Larwood,and what was he like as a cricket and person.
    Thank you Tom, for writing a great piece.

  • Comment number 83.

    I would just like to add my thanks to Tom for all the entertaining articles during the series. This one was especially enjoyable.



  • Comment number 84.

    absolutely excellent article, Mr Morris seems like a fantastic man-and what a cricketer! Tom I hope you have sent this article to him,im sure he would love to have a read himself!

  • Comment number 85.

    Ahhh, they don't make 'em like that any more. Great article on a true sporting legend.

    Thanks to the BBC for all the great online & TMS Ashes coverage. Here's hoping England can finish it off in style.... & that I can re-adjust to a sociable sleeping pattern.

  • Comment number 86.

    #79 Thanks for the link, great stuff. Really enjoyed watching the film. As someone who really enjoys cricket, but isn't too clued up on it's history, it was a delight. Thanks!

  • Comment number 87.

    Congrats to Tom yet again on a fabulous piece of writing. As a blog it has been great to follow, but Tom, you must realise that your good work has been hijacked by 2 or 3 muppets. Please stop them, it detracts from the excellent stuff that you, and most others' contributions.

  • Comment number 88.

    You champion Tom Fordyce. What a ripping yarn. This is what happens when an Incorrigible journalist meets an Invincible cricketer.

    Congratulations on your patient sleuthing and tracking down the wonderful Mr Morris and bringing us to this Arthurian legend. Clearly from the comments already posted, you have summoned in us something that goes beyond mere sentiment or a viewing of history through cataracts and sepia coloured glasses.

    We seem to be collectively longing for values and codex so often discarded
    along with soiled whites and sullied reputations. But, it would be a falsehood to suppose that each generation does not toss both sides of the same coinage.

    Arthur's fine heart was matched with your fine pen. Thank you for bringing him forth from the marginalia of cricket history. We learn about so much more than cricket from this article.

    I hope you also interview Sam Loxton and Reg Simpson and I hope your article and interview with Arthur is placed in the National Sports Museum at the MCG - and that the audio is made available and interactive.

    I also hope that Cricket Executives see to it that Mr Morris receives some sort of Gold Pass ( along with Sam and Reg ) to all Test/major cricket events and that they organise at least one major Testimonial Dinner
    where these gentlemen are feted and accorded respect and acknowledgement of their sporting prowess and historical significance.

    These Darlings are treasures and they are Elders of the Game. And this is not to say they - or cricket - are any more or less worthy of acknowledgement than anyone else.

    We live in a world of paradox, of natural and man-made calamities.
    And yes, there are arguably more important and critical issues pressing upon the world -and indeed,in Australia, our floods but one of them.

    I'm just asking that some time be set aside for them from within the Australian Cricket Family and Fraternity. And by those of us who are spectators. Including those of us who have become disaffected and disillusioned.

    I'm sure their Obituaries will ultimately be full of charming rhetoric and anecdotes. But why not honour them now, before the nightwatchman is called onto the pitch.

    And Tom, you should be the MC at the dinner. And please film a doco with
    all three and give The Ashes a good raking.

  • Comment number 89.

    Heart warming article about an absolute gentleman and legend.
    (Joined up just to comment on this article!)

    @TESS LAWRENCE Perfectly put!

  • Comment number 90.

    Great article Tom, made being in the office this morning that much more bearable! Inquisitive, perceptive, well-researched and sincere. In short, great journalism. I am just sorry that more of today's players are not as 'genial' as Mr Morris!

  • Comment number 91.

    Nice article. Great man. Touching story.

    Thanks Tom.

    Subhendu

  • Comment number 92.

    Nice story which reminds us that in a different time players and people from Australia and England had quite civil relations. Seems odd today

  • Comment number 93.

    Lovely piece, Tom.
    Really appreciate your reporting/comment from Australia. Thanks.

  • Comment number 94.

    Great article Tom, it brought back some memories, thank you. I read the comments and got to No 12 and 14, and thought to myself that the yorkie boy must have read my comment about him last night, and decided that trying to spell things the way he seems to think we speak up here in the north was just being a twerp, and had come to his senses and had decided to speak (spell) in the English language he was supposed to have been taught at school, but then we get to 55 and he is starting again with his so called "yorkie speak", it then gets worse at 60, then he gets his comments taken off @ 63 and 66 for breaking house rules, what a muppet. Anyway gentlemen, that is 4 down, now let us see if we can skittle them all out and then get a good first innings lead over them, then skittle them all out again and win by another innings and whatever. I shall be keeping my fingers crossed and cheering them on. Again Tom, great article, well done.

  • Comment number 95.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece Mr Fordyce, thank you very much. If you are going to spend time tracking down reclusive sports stars from way back when.....how about an interview with Steve Ovett (who I believe is now settled in Australia?). Would be fun to hear what he thinks of his one time arch rival's efforts with the Olympics and to hear what he is upto himself!

  • Comment number 96.

    Great piece Tom - Arthur Morris is a legend. I feel the need to comment even though I have been thoroughly entertained since our boys got off the plane.

    To supplement my withdrawal symptoms since the last test I have been re-watching ROME (the HBO/BBC collaboration). I couldn't help making certain comparisons:-

    Lucius Vorenus - Paul Collingwood
    Titus Pullo - Graemme Swann
    Mark Anthony - James Anderson
    Octavian Caesar - Tim Bresnan

    These are a few of my thoughts. I wonder if any reader would care to assign a male/female character to anybody else in the Australian or England camp at present?

  • Comment number 97.

    Superb again Tom, you have surpassed yourself. A smile permanently on my face as I read this article as a wave of nostalgia and longing for a time long past came over me. Nice for a change that, despite one humourless individuals attempts, the comments remain true to the original blog after nearly 100 posts.

  • Comment number 98.

    #88 - Tess, a great suggestion.
    It reminds me that when growing up Plum Warner, Rhodes, Hobbs and such like always seemed to be watching (or for Rhodes listening) in the pavilion crowd. Maybe it was really only at Lords, or different legends at different grounds; I don't know now. But it would be a great tradition for the game in all countries. The immediate past can mostly be found in the media boxes, but it would help to keep the names of such as Morris in our minds if they were at least asked to matches. It's interesting to wonder why they are not there if it's purely a question of choice, rather than opportunity.

  • Comment number 99.

    Tom - as many others have said, this is a wonderful and heartwarming piece of writing; Arthur sounds like a wonderful chap, congratulations for tracking him down and thanks for letting us share in his memories. Your blogs over the course of this series have been second to none. Great work, for which many thanks.

  • Comment number 100.

    Hi Tom, listened to your interview with Arthur Morris overnight on TMS. Thoroughly enjoyed listening and my only regret is that the lunch break wasn't much longer, he sounds a lovely man to chat with. Well done.

 

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