Australia news August 22, 2015

'A better bloke you couldn't find' - Harvey

Neil Harvey (far right) says Arthur Morris (second from left) was "one of the best players this country has produced" © Getty Images

Neil Harvey has remembered his fellow 'Invincible', Arthur Morris, as "a great team man" and one of the best players Australia has produced.

Morris has died at the age of 93, leaving Harvey as the sole surviving member of Don Bradman's touring party that went through the 1948 tour of England undefeated and earned the Invincibles nickname. Harvey was 19 at the time and he said it was a great learning curve to watch Morris, a fellow left-hander, dismantle England's attack in that Ashes series during which he was the leading run-scorer.

"I learnt a lot off Arthur over the years," Harvey told ESPNcricinfo. "I was on four or five tours with him. We got to know each other pretty well. You wouldn't find a nicer bloke in the world: a great sense of humour, a great team man. Just one of those great fellas that you can spend a lot of time with and enjoy his company. A better bloke you couldn't find.

"He's been one of the best players this country has produced, a left-hander of great ability. He and Sid Barnes in my opinion formed the best opening pair this country has produced, in my time anyway."

During the 1948 series, Morris was a key part of one of Test cricket's highest successful run chases, when he scored 182 and Bradman made 173 not out in pursuing a target of 404 in Leeds. The task was made harder by the fact that the pitch was six days old (including the Sunday rest day), it had been rained on early in the match, and was providing plenty of turn for Jim Laker.

"That's probably the best partnership I've ever seen, the Bradman-Morris one," Harvey said. "To go out there on the last day - not even a full day's play, because we lost the first 15 minutes when England batted on - to get all those runs.

"They didn't really set out to win when play started on the last day. As soon as Hassett got out and Morris and Bradman got in, they pushed the runs along at a pretty fair rate. All of a sudden we guys in the dressing room said 'we could win this'. And that's what happened."

Harvey, now 86, also remembered the sacrifice made by Morris while they were batting together against South Africa at the MCG in 1953. Morris was run out for 99 in a mix-up with Harvey, who went on to score his fourth century of the series and finished with 205.

"He sacrificed his innings for me," Harvey said. "We had a bit of a mix-up, we could've been both left in the middle of the pitch. He said 'come on', he called me through and he went through and got run out. It was another one of his great acts as a gentleman. It was an act I appreciated so much because he didn't have to do it. And it was my fault. He was just one of those nice guys."

Harvey was present at the SCG during this week when the Arthur Morris Gates were unveiled, although Morris himself was too ill to attend. Also at the opening was Alan Davidson, the fast-bowling allrounder who first met Morris in 1949-50 when Davidson moved to Sydney from the country to try his luck in grade cricket.

"I can remember playing against him at St George," Davidson said. "I arrived late, thank goodness, because he'd scored a hundred before I got to the ground. I got lost on a train and by the time I got to the ground, St George were about 1 for 180, Arthur Morris had made a hundred, and he got out as I was changing into my boots.

"You had to see the bloke and his artistry, his ability was phenomenal. It didn't matter if it was a fast bowler or a spin bowler. He'd go down the wicket to a spinner and pick them off. He was a magnificent back-foot player. His judgement of the length of a ball was incredible."

It was not only on the field that Morris had fine timing. Although he was naturally a quiet man, he had a remarkable sense of wit.

"He had a charm about him," Davidson said. "Everybody was endeared by him. He was not a demonstrative person, he was a quiet sort of person. But he was always good company no matter what the situation. He had incredible wit. He was once asked what did cricket give him, and he said 'poverty'. He had a tremendous sense of timing."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments