Thursday, September 15, 2011

Was he a Failure?

What is success?  What is considered failure? Who is to measure it? How it should be measured?  When do we say someone has done justice to his talent? 

There is an interesting instance of a cricketer. This is all the more interesting in an era when the Pathan Brothers are sold or bought for an aggregate of USD 4 million for IPL.

A player was chosen to represent his country in Test Cricket. Against severe competition. He was already married by that time. His wife came to the stadium to see her husband make his debut for their country. She brought along with her, her knitting sticks and wool. A new sweater for their soon to be born baby. Naturally.

She was eagerly waiting for her husband to come to bat. His chance did come. He walked to the middle of the pitch. He took leg stump guard. She waited with bated breath. The moment he and she had waited for long had indeed arrived. The bowler started running towards the batsman to deliver the ball. Right arm Fast medium.

In the excitement, she dropped the ball of wool in her hand. She bent to pick it up.

That was it. She never saw her husband bat. By the time she picked up the ball of wool, the leather ball was delivered and her husband was out first ball. He was never selected for his country's team again. He bowled only one over and gave away nine runs. No wicket.

This not a imaginary story. It is the true story of Dr. Roy Lindsey Parks who played his only Test Match for Australia against England in 1920-21. Even his wife dropping the wool and missing his one ball innings!

Dr Roy Lindsey Park lived for only 54 years. Born in 1892, he started his career as a Australian football player. He played his football (a game different from the traditional football which is played between two teams of 22 players) and Cricket for Melbourne and Victoria, Australia. In 44 football matches for his University, he scored 111 goals and in 13 games for Victoria he scored 35 goals. He was the leading goal kicker for his team for three concecutive years in1912 to 1914. He became a victim of an allegation of kicking an opponent player and was suspended for four matches. Despite repeated assertions of three other players that he had not kicked the other player, he was suspended for four matches. Pained by the suspension, he gave up playing Australian Foot Ball and took up Cricket. He excelled in Cricket also. He was studying for his Degree in Medicine at that time and on becoming a Doctor he joined the Australian Imperial Force during World War I in 1917. He was sent to England during the war and served with distinction. His service in the armed forces was commended by mention in the London Gazette as well as Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.  After returning from England at the conclusion of World War I in 1919, he resumed playing cricket and was selected to play for Australia in 1920. Being a Doctor, he was called upon to attend a patient on the previous night and did not have sufficient sleep when he came to bat the next day. It is to be remembered that until 1960s or even 1970s, Cricket players were busy with their own careers as professionals or serving as employees and they were not pampered as professional players like today.  His cricket career lasted only one test match. In first Class Cricket, however, he made 2514 runs including 9 centuries with an average of 40 in the days of uncovered pitches.

Park's cricket connections did not end there. He kept in touch with the game and his daughter, Lal Park, married Ian Johnson who was a budding cricketer. After the daughter's marriage to Ian Johnson in 1942, Roy parks guided the cricket career of his son-in-law Ian Johnson who made it to the Australian Test team in 1946 and played for 10 years, till 1956, though his career was interrupted by World War II. During World War II Johnson served in the Royal Australian Air Force as a fighter pilot and flight instructor. He resumed playing cricket after the war and even became the captain of the Australian Cricket Team and led them in 17 tests with 5 wins. (He is more known as the only Captain to lose two Ashes Series, until Ricky Ponting overtook him). In a career spanning 45 matches Ian Johnson took 109 wickets and scored 1000 runs, which was considered as a DOUBLE in those days. He was a part of the Invincible Team of Don Bradman and on the recommendation of Bradman he was honoured with the title MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1957, which was upgraded to OBE (Officer of the order of of the British Empire) in 1977 and then again to CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1982. Something similar to Our Indian Government giving Padmashri, Padma Bushan and Padma Vibushan to the same person in three stages! Lal Park and Ian Johnson were happily married for 56 years! Ian Johnson served his country in many capacities including as a sports commentator and administrator and Social Worker.

Roy Park's Cricket Test record was dismal. He scored 0 in one match. Gave 9 runs in one over. He does not even have an average. Cricket Pundits may call him a total failure. But he led a very distinguished life. He was a patriot. He was a soldier. He was a Doctor. He was useful to his family. And to the society. He guided his son-in-law to greatness and distinction. For me, he was a much bigger success than many who have scored tons of runs for their own personal milestones.

...................P Keshava Murthy



  1. Awesome way to experience life... through your life-ful notes. Great to learn and know what is life by itself & how to see life to live life...


  2. I agree with you and opine that any highest National award should be given to those who have contributed to the welfare of mankind.Many a time such people may not come under lime light but their services will ever be remembered by the society.

  3. very few people have an insight which you have .It was interesting to read