Perhaps more than any number one batsman Victor Trumper could not be measured by the number of runs he scored. If arithmetic runs were the sole criterion, he would not have been regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Most of the other greats of his time freely admitted that they were not even fit to be compared with Trumper. Many people, who also saw the legendary Sir Donald Bradman, swore that Trumper was the more accomplished batsman, although statistics say otherwise.
Altham once wrote, “His genius was essentially qualitative rather than quantitative, revealed in terms of spontaneous art rather than in any acquired technique.” In other words, it was the manner in which this legend batted that separated him from the others. He did not believe that there was any ball, which could not be scored off. He was gifted with a great eye and a quick pair of feet. He was a true athlete. His strength lied in playing the ball late.
“He dealt with good-length balls in the way that an ordinary forcing first-class batsman deals with half-volleys and long hops,” wrote Col Philip Trevor, Former MCC’s manager in Australia. He was far more interested in the success of his side than personal glory. He was totally selfless. He enjoyed cricket but not its attendant glories. He disliked the adulation of the crowds. He far preferred the company of his family to admirers and did not drink or smoke. Indeed, his nature was as hard to describe as his cricket.
Trumper’s reticence, honesty and inclination for living day to day gave him little head for the business enterprise he undertook towards the end of his life. He won the affection of all classes in Australia and his heroics against England helped fuel the country’s young flames of nationalism. When he died at the age of 37 due to Bright’s disease, shortly after contracting scarlet fever, in a private hospital near to the place where he was born about 20,000 people lined the Sydney streets, forming a three-and-a-half mile procession behind his funeral cortege.
Aditya V. Iyer
June 21, 2001