Neil Harvey's scintillating 140 at Brabourne, six decades ago

It's been six decades since Neil Harvey played a scintillating knock of 140 against India at the Brabourne Stadium. Many of those who have watched the innings believe it's among the best they have seen.

Neil Harvey, in his two tours to India, scored 609 runs at an average of 55.36 including three hundreds.   -  The Hindu Archives

Neil Harvey scored four centuries against India -- in Melbourne (1948), Mumbai (1956 and '60) and Delhi (1959). Of the four, it was his second -- a scintillating 140 at Brabourne Stadium -- against leg-spinner Subhash Gupte, left arm-spinner Vinoo Mankad and off-spinner Jasu Patel that became part of the India-Australia folklore. Harvey conquered the guiles of these Indian spinners.

Madhav Apte, who was never chosen to play for India after a successful tour of the West Indies in 1953 said: "Yes, I saw Harvey's knock at the Brabourne. He mastered Subhash. He came down the pitch and he was beautiful to watch. That evening I told Duleepsinhji that Subhash is getting on with age. He (Duleepsinhji) did not quite agree and said: 'Spinners get better with age and experience. So age cannot be an excuse. Harvey is one among the five who has given me pleasure; the others are Peter May, Frank Worrell, Gundappa Viswanath and Sachin Tendulkar.'

"We were at the breakfast table at the CCI (Cricket Club of India) when Richie (Benaud) served a plate to me with a newspaper article that said Subhash (Gupte) will have the better of me. It was then I decided, it's either me or him. I went after him and got a hundred," Harvey had reminisced a day before the touring Indian team's match against the Australian Prime Minister's team in Canberra in January 2004. On the match day, Harvey and Sam Loxton taught a few lessons to Sourav Ganguly on batting.

Harvey was part of The Invincibles that the great Don Bradman led in England in 1948. By then he had already become the youngest Australian at 19 to score a Test century (153 at Melbourne). Known as a supreme stylist and a specialist against spinners, Harvey danced down the pitch to tackle the spinners. Many of those who watched his 140 at the Brabourne believe that's among the best they have seen.

It's been six decades since Harvey played that devastating knock. Steve Smith and his men, as they prepare for a three-day warm-up match (from February 17-19) at CCI ahead of their Test series against India, would've been inspired if the 88-year-old was here to describe his historic knock.

Harvey, in his two tours to India in 1956 and 1959-60, scored 609 runs at an average of 55.36 including three hundreds. Only five Australian cricketers -- Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke, Allan Border, Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting -- have scored more in India than Harvey.

Smith, despite having played only two Tests in India, has played a lot of Indian Premier League (IPL) matches here. Australian coach Darren Lehmann, too, knows the pitches in India, having been part of IPL as a coaching staff. But after a 4-0 thrashing in the 2013 series, the Australian batsmen have to show some guts and skill to conquer India's strong spin attack like Harvey did in the 1950s.