In 1995, after O’Reilly and Fingleton had both passed away, Bradman wrote: “With these fellows out of the way, the loyalty of my 1948 side was a big joy and made a big contribution to the outstanding success of that tour".
It is strange that Bradman should prefer not having on his team the bowler whom he often referred to as the best he had ever seen. However, the Irish Catholic background and easy beer dipped social ways of the champion leg spinner did not quite agree with the abstemious Protestant grounding of the great batsman. It is hard to believe, but Bradman’s vindictiveness prematurely ended the career of the “Tiger”.
In fact, O'Reilly summed up his feelings when he complained to a board member, "You have to play under a Protestant to know what it's like".
O’Reilly followed Fingleton’s footsteps to become a journalist, and kept following them further while criticising the great man relentlessly. Funnily, the two anti-Bradman friends were in the Press Box together when the master was bowled off the second ball by Eric Hollies in his final Test innings, and they have been reported to have become hysterical with laughter.
Nevertheless, O'Reilly claimed that he was silent about his deepest feelings about Bradman. "You don't piss on statues,” as he put it.
However, Bradman’s genius with the bat shone through even through the most unpalatable bitterness. O’Reilly did go on to say that compared with Bradman, batsmen like Greg Chappell and Allan Border were mere "child's play".
Senantix (Arunabha Sengupta)