The Ashes draw near. For months now the analysts will have been poring over videos of the Australians, analysing their every weakness in the greatest possible detail. Meticulous plans will have been laid as to how best to dismiss them. Every possible permutation in selection will have been mulled over. The specialist coaches and fitness experts will have been working 24/7.
Things were very different in 1948, when Bradman’s Invincibles were about to arrive on our shores.
Over to Freddie Brown again:
“Walter Robbins, who was one of England’s selectors in 1948,asked me if I was going to play any cricket that year. I replied that I hadn’t seriously thought about it. His answer was that the selectors would like me to do so, as they thought I might be useful against the Australians. So it was arranged that I should play for Surrey in the Whitsun match at Trent Bridge.
[Brown immediately “pulls an achilles tendon”, which puts him out of action for several weeks].
The next event was my selection as captain of the Rest XI in the Test Trial. One of the selectors suggested it might be a good thing if I got some first-class practice before the Trial – an opinion with which I very readily concurred.
[He arranges to play for Surrey v. Gloucestershire}.
There was no play on the Saturday and I went back to Birmingham … Using a flit-gun to sweeten up the hen-house on the Sunday, I lost a chunk out of my spinning finger when the plunger snapped out. Back I went to the Oval, full of remorse and apologies, I could not play at all of course. Soon I was taken out of the Test Trial and Walter Robbins played instead.”
For Heaven’s sake, Swann – stay away from the henhouse.