Vijay Tagore recalls a trip to ‘The Don’s’ locality during the last summer tour Down Under
The structures in the area are spectacularly luxurious, aesthetically designed and ecologically executed. The buildings and the greenery surrounding them are breathtaking. The smell of freshly cut timber and the sound of breeze whistling through the leaves. If only Mumbai had such space luxury…
The Kensington Park may not be a real estate agent’s dream locality but surely one of the most peaceful areas in Adelaide, South Australian city famous for its indigeneously prepared wine.
Tucked somewhere in Kensington Park, is an address No 2 Holden Street. For the Indian journalists, covering the Test series this winter that was a hot spot. For me it was the ‘Vatican’.
The journey to the area was an arduous one. The address was supposed to be as famous as a 10 Janpath, or a 10 Downing Street. It turned out to be as non-descript an address as any one in an old basti. The cabbie needed a dozen inquiries and half a dozen stops to ferry me to the area. When I reached the ‘Vatican’, my mind was swarmed by a sense of disappointment.
The house itself was a let down. Wedged precariously between very lavishly-built houses was the The Don’s abode. My ‘Vatican’ was not in conformity with the area. It was an exception. Did Don Bradman, my cricketing God, live a simple life?
There were no answers coming through, though. The neighbourhood would not speak.
He was an anathema, I understood.
An old lady staying next to the house would excuse herself if a query was thrown on the Don. “He was a great cricketer,” she would mumble, when pestered. At no point in my 15-minute one-sided conversation could I elicit a reply that the Don was a great neighbour. Bradman, I learnt, lived like a recluse. The people of the area hardly saw him. Another neighbour saw him only five times in 27 years. The fifth time was when the Don had died. No one lives in the house now. His popularity faded once he left the game. He was the symbol scorn for every cricketer when he got into the administration.
The game’s best player ever was against the best payments for the Australian players. Ian Chappell made no bones of his reservations against Bradman’s policies as a Cricket Australia chief.
In my quest for knowledge on Don, I bumped into someone called Dick Putter, who claimed to have played golf with Bradman. He would tell me that Bradman did not have any illusions of his unpopularity in him hometown. “He knew his real fans are in India, not in Australia.” I’ve also met a journalist who claims that Bradman had told him that he thought Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman in the world.
But the best quote I have ever heard on the Don was from Greg Chappell. He told me: “Cricket is a game of failures. Bradman had scored only 29 centuries in 80 times he went out to bat.”
India would be blessed to have a cricketer with such failures, even if he went on to be the most hated.