Considered among the greatest left-arm pace bowlers to have played the game, Alan Keith Davidson has always been open with his views.
Now 84, the all-rounder Aussie who claimed 186 wickets in 44 Tests and scored 1328 runs at 24.59, spoke to The Hindu in an exclusive interview via telephone from his Sydney home on two raging contemporary issues — use of technology in umpiring and relationship between rival teams in the context of the recent David Warner-Joe Root incident.
Asked about DRS, Davidson said, “We always grew up under the belief that the umpire’s decision was final. Cricket teaches you discipline and respecting the umpire’s decision was one of them.
“In fact, it was one of the cornerstones of the game. Now when an umpire’s verdict is questioned, it rocks one of the very foundations of cricket.”
Says Davidson, whose views differ with those of Cricket Australia, “The umpires are responsible for the conduct of the game. I am of the opinion that the umpires get around 90 per cent of the decisions right.
“Now when the decision is referred to the third umpire who views television, the confidence of the on-field umpire is damaged. Consequently, the umpires will lose their natural instinct to give decisions.”
The Aussie icon, whose international career stretched from 1953 to ‘63, adds, “During my time, I got some good decisions and some rough ones. I took them in my stride and eventually they balanced out.
“The technology too is not foolproof. When a decision is changed, it just isn’t cricket.”
Queried about the recent ‘punch-gate’ involving Australian opener David Warner, Davidson said, “In my time we fought hard on the field. Off the field we were great friends.’’
He remembers, “In a 1959 Ashes Test, it was so hot in Sydney that Freddie Trueman had to leave the field. And when his English team-mate and fellow paceman Brian Statham returned to the dressing room after the day’s play, he found that his socks were soaked in blood. And the skin around his nails had come off.
“We went to the England dressing room and it was an Australian who poured some alcohol over the wounds to wash away the blood. To me it was a crowning moment that symbolised the relationship between the two sides.”
Davidson says, “Now there is hardly any relationship between teams off the field. Things have become so cold. It’s sad. There was very little money in out times but our biggest gain was friendship that lasted decades.”
He reveals, “During my visits to England, I often stayed at Raman Subba Row’s house. He is a great friend and he was an Englishman. The Ashes were bitterly fought but that hardly came in the way of our relationships.”
“And when I came to India, I cannot forget the wonderful evening at Vijay Manjrekar’s house. These days, there is so much bad blood,” concludes Davidson.