Bradman needed just four runs in his last innings to touch that magical figure of 100 but knocked over by Hollies for a duck at The Oval on 14 August 1948 and had to end his 520-Test career with a batting average of 99.93.
In the previous Test of the series, at Headingley, Harvey, who had scored 112 in the first innings, came out to bat at No. 5 in the second essay, with Bradman unbeaten on 173 at the other end. The teenage Harvey smashed the only delivery he faced for a boundary and won the match for his team. It's been over 70 years since that match was played but Harvey is still living with the guilt of what if Bradman had scored that boundary. It would have allowed him to pull off that unthinkable feat.
“That four at Leeds makes me feel very guilty. It’s entirely my fault Bradman didn’t average 100 in Test cricket. If he would have scored those four runs instead of me, he’d have got there," Harvey told Sydney Morning Herald.
“I went in and Ken Cranston, a seam bowler from Lancashire, bowled this thing on my leg stump and I whacked it through mid-wicket for four. The public charged onto the ground and I can still remember Bradman [who’d scored 173] yelling, ‘come on son, let’s get out of here’.”
The aftermaths of Harvey’s boundary weren’t realised until after Bradman fell for a duck in Australia's only innings of the fifth and final Test of the 1948 Invincibles tour.
“I’m quite willing to take the blame. But I didn’t know he was going to get a duck in his last Test match ... Nobody knew Bradman needed four runs at Leeds; nobody knew he needed four runs when he played in his last Test at the Oval," said Harvey, the last surviving member of Bradman's 'Invincibles'.
“Statistics were never mentioned back then; there was no television and no one in the press seemed to know. When the poor bloke was bowled that was it. He wasn’t going to get another chance because we dismissed England for 52 in their first innings.”
The left-handed batsman Harvey ended his Test career with 6149 runs in 79 matches at an average of 48.41, decorated with 21 hundreds and 24 fifties.
First Published: October 7, 2018, 10:40 AM IST