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Cricketers reflect on their lives and times

Bill Brown

'I never lost my fascination with the game'

An Invincible looks back at Bradman, McCabe and the rest

Interview by Peter English

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© National Library of Australia

New South Wales first picked me to play Queensland and I was run out for none without hitting a ball. I thought I was finished.

As a boy I was at the Marrickville club once for a trial as a youngster, but when the teams came out I wasn't in any of them. "I'll never play for that club," I said. The next thing, the treasurer was at the door - "Someone's dropped out of fifth grade." "I'd love to play," I quickly said.

I drifted into opening up with Bill Woodfull, Bill Ponsford and Jack Fingleton. Our job in those days was pretty clear: stay there until lunch on the first day. The pace you scored at didn't matter a darn.

Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer complement each other. They play a much harder game than when I played. We tipped the ball and ran; they hit the ball.

Stan McCabe played the most magnificent innings I've ever seen, at Nottingham in 1938. Bradman went up to him when he got out for 232 and said: "Stan, if I could play an innings like that, I'd be a very proud man." It was magic.

I got a double-century at Lord's on the same tour but there was a vast difference between the two innings. Mine, you might say, was a crafted innings. I've taken one of my grandsons up to see the honour board - that was nice.

It's a tough choice, but I preferred batting with Jack Fingleton. We complemented one another and we both ran well between the wickets.

In 1948 we didn't start off with any particular thought of going undefeated, but it evolved in Don's mind when we started to win matches. Poor Lindsay Hassett was vice-captain and whenever we got into trouble he seemed to be in charge.

I was fascinated with the game as a boy. I never lost that.

You couldn't help but lift your game when you played with Bradman.

The man I really admired most was Stan McCabe. He was frightening to watch.

When I was captain I loved putting Bill O'Reilly on. The game came alive, with men around the bat; there was always a chance of a wicket falling. You couldn't help but admire his wonderful control, the length he bowled, and the different spin he put on the ball.

I'm a great fan of Steve Waugh. he's a tremendous bloke and a wonderful cricketer.

Vinoo Mankad taught me to smarten myself up with the two run-outs in 1947-48. In the Sydney Test he bowled and didn't let the ball go. Later I called him to say there were no hard feelings - he said he would never do it to me again. Soon after, in the Melbourne Test, I was run out for 99. As I walked off I looked to see who threw it - my old mate Vinoo. So much for his promise.

I watch the cricket now, but I don't sit glued to the TV. I was delighted to see Australia do so well in India.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo. This interview was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2004

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