June 10, 1948 – When Mahatma Gandhi’s son slept in jail to watch Don Bradman’s batting
The 1948 Ashes was marked to be the last Test series of Sir Donald Bradman.
Updated - Jun 10, 2020 10:55 am
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi played a pivotal role in India’s freedom struggle and is ‘Father of the Nation’. Though Mohandas was never directly connected towards cricket, one of his four sons had a strange relationship with this sport. Mahatma’s youngest son, Devdas Gandhi was a cricket fanatic and did something unimaginable to watch the great Sir Donald Bradman bat in his last Test series.
Ramachandra Guha wrote this interesting story in Wisden narrated by Devdas’ eldest son, Rajmohan. Like his father, Devdas Gandhi was also involved in freedom struggles and was involved in Salt March organized in 1930. Later, he joined Hindustan Times newspaper as managing editor. Being a cricket fan, Devdas gave coverage to the sport, especially cricket. He even got his paper sponsor on the scorecard of Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
Sir Donald Bradman, just before turning 40, announced that the 1948 tour of England will be his last assignment for the Australian team. Bradman never played a first-class match on Indian soil through his career and so, Devdas Gandhi wanted to watch the great man live in action for one last time.
Hence, he got on board to attend a meeting of Reuters and arrived in London. Somehow, he managed to reach Nottingham by the time of the first Test starting on July 10th. As per Guha’s version, the tickets for the Trent Bridge Test were sold out but with the help of grey eminences of Fleet Street, Devdas acquired a complimentary pass.
However, a bigger challenge for the younger Gandhi was to spend the night after the first day as the series gathered a lot of attention which got all the hotels sold out in Nottingham. Hence, it turned out to be a struggle for Devdas to get accommodation ahead to watch Bradman’s batting live.
A night in jail!
Out of ideas, Devdas Gandhi used his journalist influence to reach out the Nottingham County Jail. He managed to convince the jail warden and spent the night as Bradman was set to bat on the second day. England were bowled out for 165 after electing to bat first. Australia ended the first day at the score of 17/0. After a night in the jail, Devdas walked to Trent Bridge to join a huge number of spectators in the galleries. Bradman walked to bat after a 73-run opening stand that spread across 32 overs.
Don Bradman smashed an unbeaten 130 by end of second day’s play as Australia reached 293/4 and set towards a huge lead. Devdas Gandhi, who fulfilled his wish to witness Bradman in action, took a train back to London. Bradman eventually got out scoring 138 while Lindsay Hassett scored 137 to power the Aussies to 509. England, in the second innings, could only reach 441 despite a 184-run knock from Denis Compton. Australia chased down the target of 98 losing two wickets including Bradman’s duck.