The Art of Cricket

Bradmanesque

Like his batting, the Don's book lacks flourishes, is exceedingly effective, and is easily the final word on cricket coaching

Suresh Menon

May 31, 2008

Text size: A | A



This is not merely the finest book on coaching. It takes us closer into the mind of a great batsman than autobiographies or biographies tend to. Even a casual reading hints at the amount of thought that went into Bradman's cricket; and the continuum between life and cricket. Open the book anywhere, and you come across advice that is applicable equally to both. "Watch and learn from others," it says at one point. "Don't be afraid of trial and error." It is advice to a bowler; it could be the theme at a university convocation.

Much like Bradman's batting, famously characterised by Neville Cardus as lacking in flourishes, The Art of Cricket is effective without being literary, sound without being showy, and gains from a mixture of common sense and sheer authority. The student is reassured by the unstated response, "If it worked for Bradman ..."

At the first World Cup, in 1975, the Australian medium-pacer Gary Gilmour claimed 6 for 14 against England in the semi-final. That was remarkable enough. What was even more so was his admission that he had never been formally coached but had learnt his cricket from reading The Art of Cricket.

In the four decades that the book has been the final word on coaching, no one has paid it a better tribute than Richie Benaud, who wrote that Bradman had "managed to slice through the rhetoric of cricket coaching to produce a book that is able to be perfectly understood by pupil and teacher, a trait in modern-day coaching which does not necessarily apply".

The insights into Bradman alone make this a worthwhile read. After suggesting an alternative to the pull shot, Bradman says, "But it has its risks, especially when the ball is coming in towards the body." And then he asks the question that gives us a peep into his soul: "... but then who wants to play cricket at all if not prepared to take a chance occasionally?" He does advise caution, though: "Don't try the pull shot on a greasy pitch after a shower of rain. Or if you do, have a spare set of teeth ready."

Few sports reveal character in the manner cricket does. It is a complex, multi-layered ritual. The Art of Cricket suggests that some of the complexity is merely an aggregate of simplicities. And that is the secret of this book's enduring power; it simplifies a form, unlike many of its successors that put off the reader by making the explanations more esoteric than the crafts themselves.

From the book
My movements at the crease prior to the bowler delivering the ball depended on the type of bowler operating. I was never conscious of a precise and predetermined movement, but slow motion pictures of me batting, both in matches and in demonstration films, prove conclusively that I always begin lifting the bat just prior to the ball being delivered. At the instant of delivery, the bottom of my bat was usually almost level with the bails and against fast bowlers, my rear foot was already in the process of shifting back and across.

The Art of Cricket
by Donald Bradman

Hodder & Stoughton, Sydney, 1960

Suresh Menon is a writer based in Bangalore

RSS Feeds: Suresh Menon

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Suresh MenonClose
Suresh Menon Suresh Menon went from being a promising cricketer to a has-been, without the intervening period of a major career. He played league cricket in three cities with a group of overgrown enthusiasts who had the reverse of amnesia - they could remember things that never happened. For example, taking incredible catches at slip, or scoring centuries. Somehow Menon found the time to be the sports editor of the Pioneer and the Indian Express in New Delhi, Gulf News in Dubai, and the editor of the New Indian Express in Chennai. Currently he is a columnist with publications in India and abroad, and is beginning to think he might never play for India.
Related Links
Players/Officials: Sir Donald Bradman

    Four in four, and stands by Nos. 10 and 11

Ask Steven: Also, most balls faced in a T20, highest limited-overs score at Lord's, and long lives after Test debut

    England seem to have forgotten about personality

Mark Nicholas: They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity

    'Wouldn't mind being reborn as Imran'

My Favourite Cricketer: Sanjay Manjrekar on his first sighting of Imran Khan's magnetic personality

'Smith always backed himself to win a Test for SA'

Modern Masters: Graeme Smith's fourth-innings stats are a testament of his tremendous mental strength

Are Test batsmen maturing quicker these days?

Michael Jeh: Does Rahane, Robson, Ballance and Stokes making hundreds in their first five Tests point to a larger trend?

News | Features Last 7 days

India out-reversed on dry pitch

England consigned India to two reverse-swing-induced collapses whereas India bowlers mainly relied on the new ball's movement and uneven bounce by hitting the deck hard

Bigger concerns for England than Lord's pitch

While the pitch took most of the blame at Trent Bridge, at Lord's England will need to get more controlling overs from their spinners. The reality is there is no quick fix

Ridiculed Ishant ridicules England

Ishant Sharma has often been the butt of jokes, and sometimes deservedly so. Today, however, the joke was on England

Another battle, another defeat on Planet Al

Alastair Cook has got used to feeling of the axe hanging over him. Only his team-mates can save England now

'The more fielders think for themselves, the better for the team'

Paul Collingwood talks about how fielding has evolved over time, manning backward point, the amazing AB de Villiers, and his fielding dream team

News | Features Last 7 days