Australian cricketer. One of the greatest run scorers in the history of the game, in test (international) matches Bradman scored 6,996 runs for Australia and set a record with his average of 99.94 runs per match.
"The Bradman story is, above all else, the ultimate Australian dream where a young boy from the bush makes it against the odds; and, with every execution of his skill, rewrites history."
Well-known Australian personality Alan Jones draws a perfect picture of Australian cricket legend – ‘Sir Donald George Bradman’.
Born in the small town of Cootamundra on August 27, 1908, Don (his nickname) was the fifth and youngest child of Emily and George Bradman. The couple also had a son named Victor and three daughters Islet, Lilian and May among the first of their siblings. During his infancy, Don’s family lived at Yeo Yeo, a village 25 kilometers from Cootamundra. After Don’s birth, his mother’s health started deteriorating. The cooler climate of Bowral was found suitable for sick Emily to recuperate, so George decided to move there with family. When Don was two and a half years old, the Bradmans shifted into their new weather-board house, at Shepherd Street, a walking distance from the Bowral School. Two years later, Don was sent to the local elementary school.
From an early age, Don was never studious. He was a smart youngster interested in sports. He loved ball games, but there was no coaching facility available for any sport at the Bowral School. Besides, the poor boy did not have any friend to play with in the neighborhood. This precisely was the genesis of Don’s initiation into the game of cricket as a boy, by developing a unique ball game, all by himself, in his backyard. His ball was not a genuine Wisden six-stitcher, but it was an old golf ball. The little boy found it at the neighboring golf link where he wandered in the hope of being able to carry somebody’s golf clubs. His bat was not a piece of nice English willow, rather it was a very old small stump. The game involved throwing a golf ball at the round brick base of a water tank. When the ball was hit, it would fly off in all directions. Don sharpened his reflexes and developed his strokes by hitting the ball, every time the ball rebounded off the tank. Practising such a game helped him in develop sharp eyesight, agility and the concentration power that
enabled him to withstand the rigors of national and international cricket matches that he was to play a few years later. Bradman later wrote, "It is only reasonable for me to say, I found hitting a small golf ball with a small stump much harder than hitting a cricket ball with a real cricket bat…playing with such a small ball and small bat must have trained my eyesight. This commenced for me a ground work." In fact, the entire cricketing experience of his early days was derived from self-practice with very limited exposure to read about and watch the game. As is evident from his own words, "When a very small boy, cricket was to me the most wonderful game in the world. Unfortunately, however, being some distance from the Metropolis, I was unable to witness any first-class cricketers in action. Actually, with the exception of a small portion of one Test Match, I saw no first-class cricket whatever until I was engaged in playing for New South Wales, myself." Such were the humble beginnings of the legend that was Don.
He used to walk across the Glebe wicket to reach his Bowral Public School. Later in 1947, this ground, now lying in the vicinity of the Bradman Museum, was renamed as ‘Bradman Oval’. Apart from school and backyard cricket, the young boy loved his piano lessons; choir practice and doubled up as golf caddie. It was his eldest sister Lilian who nurtured Don’s love for music and taught him to play the piano. Don used to help his father who was a carpenter and a fencer by profession, hoping to become a house painter at the same time.
At the age of 12, Don got his first opportunity to play school game. He was invited to play for the senior school team and in his second game at the Oval, he showed his skill by scoring 115 not out in a team total of 150, and also scalped eight wickets.
Love At First Sight
It was around this time that he fell in love with Jessie Menzies, who had come to live with the Bradmans for a year, as her parents owned a property out of Bowral where there was no school. Remembering his first meeting with Jessie, Don says, "I remember the day very well because I had been sent down the street by my mother on a mission to buy some groceries, and I ran into the doctor’s car… on my bike, and had an accident. He had to take me home as I had my nose all cut and scratches all over my face. And when I got home she was there at the door, having just been delivered by her father, because she was going to stay with us for 12 months and go to school. And we went to school together every day for the rest of the year. That was when I fell in love with her, that very first day. I don’t think she fell in love with me until much later, because I was a terrible sight the day she saw me." Don decided that he would marry Jessie. Jessie was also attracted to Don and out of respect for his love, she attended all the first-class matches that Don played since she was 14.
As a teenager, Don continued to play various sports like cricket, rugby, tennis and competitive athletics. On weekends, he used to act as a scorer for the Bowral team that included his father, brother and two uncles. In one match, the Bowral team was a player short. Young Don, sent in at the fall of the eighth wicket scored 37 not out. The following Saturday, he scored 29 not out for the return innings. The Bowral team members were overwhelmed by his fine performance and rewarded him with a cricket bat which was three inches longer than he was. Don later used this first owned cricket bat at his first full season in the senior men’s team. This valuable memorabilia is now at display in the Bradman Museum.
By now, he aspired to knock at the doors of the cricketing world and encounter the cricketing stars of those times. In February 1921, the Fifth Test between England and Australia was on at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Don requested his father to take him to watch the match. They reached Sydney and the two days of play impressed the boy very much. While returning, he expressed his wish to his father that one day he would definitely play at the Sydney ground.
In the fall of 1922, 14-year Don bid ‘Goodbye’ to his school and started earning. He got a job as a clerk at the Bowral Real Estate Agency. Percy Westbrook, the owner of the firm, played a pivotal role early in his career by allowing him to play cricket in his free time. When Don got an offer to play cricket on behalf of the Bowral team at Sydney, Westbrook happily allowed him. Don caught this opportunity and within a short period, the 17-year Don made a mark as a regular in the Bowral cricket team. He consistently made high scores, at the same time taking wickets and holding catches. In the Berrima District Competition, he gave an outstanding performance. Don’s mother Emily, who was very conscious about his sports career, promised her son a new bat as a gift. The only condition was that he had to make a century in the final match between Bowral and Moss Vale. The match was held over five consecutive Saturdays. It was the most spectacular amongst all District level matches as he piled a total of 300 runs, setting a new record in the Berrima district final. Kidding with his mother, Don said that as per the condition, he deserved a triple prize, but in fact he received only one bat from his mother. This event remained permanently etched in his memory over the years.
In October 1926, New South Wales Cricket Association invited him to a practice session at Sydney Cricket Ground so that the state selectors could watch him in action. The association was hunting for promising newcomers. Don was used to playing country cricket on dirt and concrete pitches. His footwork was considered to be slow, however he soon adjusted himself on the grass field. Soon after the trial, he got a chance to play for the Southern team in a Country Cricket Week in Sydney. St. George Cricket Club was the second host to invite him. Don agreed to play if they paid him the train fare from Bowral to Sydney. Every weekend, he had to get up around 5 o’clock in the morning to catch the train. Many times, he couldn’t reach home until midnight. His hardship and labor bore fruits when during the following year, 19-year Don was selected for the NSW XI team to play the Sheffield Shield tournament
The Boy From Bowral
For his first interstate trip to Southern Australia, Don traveled by train with his team and reached Broken Hill. The first match of the Sheffield Shield tournament was challenging for the NSW players, because it was played on a hard sun-baked red dirt pitch, so the players were required to wear sand-shoes. Throughout the game, dust storms occurred creating problems for the visiting team. It was a difficult beginning for Don, but when he reached Adelaide for his first-class debut against South Australia, he meted out every ball with the treatment it deserved, scoring his first century (118 runs). ‘The boy from Bowral’ became one of the 20 Australians, who made a 100 on first-class debut. When he returned home after finishing the next match held at Melbourne, he was warmly greeted by the Bowral community. It was with a sense of pride that they started addressing him as ‘Our Don’.
The following year witnessed the first ever Test match staged in Brisbane. Co-incidentally, it was also the first Test of Don’s illustrious career. Looking back on his first important match, he expressed, "It was a great disappointment to bat on a sticky wicket in our second innings, (the first time I had ever seen one), and find I knew absolutely nothing about that kind of wicket." In fact, that day’s hot and humid rainy weather, made the wicket sticky, on which the Australian team was not habituated to play then.
Australia’s poor score resulted in the dreadful defeat of the ‘Kangaroos’. Don could make only 18 runs in the first innings and a single in the second.
Due to his poor batting performance in the very first match, Don was dropped from the Australian XI but was included as the 12th man (reserve) in the Second Test held at Sydney. At the Third Test at Melbourne, he got an opportunity to prove his mettle. He set the field ablaze, scoring 78 runs in the first innings and a century (112 runs) in the second innings. He was never dropped from the Australian team again !
The next two years, Don kept himself busy practising cricket and meeting his work commitments. Despite all his engagements, he used to coach hundreds of schoolboys from all over NSW. Bradman reached the scoring peak of his career in a Sheffield Shield match between New South-Land and Queenslands at Sydney in January 1930 when the 21–year old Don set a new world record in first–class matches by breaking the previous one held by Bill Ponsford. While Ponsford had taken 621 minutes to reach his score of 437, it took the ‘Don’ just 415 minutes to reach an unbeaten knock of 452. His teammates crowned him with the title ‘run–making machine’, on piling up 1,000 runs for the season.
Phoenix Of The Ashes
The 1929-30 season was very memorable for Don, when he was chosen to tour England. At the farewell function held in Bowral, Bradman gratefully remembered the obligation of his first owner Mr. Westbrook, "After leaving school I spent five years with Mr. Westbrook before going to Sydney. Everything lay in his hands, but at a great inconvenience he allowed me to go to Sydney. It was due to him that I got my chance in big time cricket."
He was the youngest ever overseas player to score a double century in England. He scored 236 in his very first match against Worcestershire. He made another double century – 252 runs, against Surrey. The very first overseas Test match was unforgettable for Don, as he scored 131 followed by 254 in the second Test match at Lords.
According to Don, scoring 254 at the Lords was the best innings of his career. He wrote, "Every ball went exactly where I wanted it to go until the ball that got me out."
The August of 1930, saw 21-year-old Don score 334 in the third Test at Leeds. Don made 309 of those runs in a single day. A new world record in test cricket that remained uneclipsed for many years. One of the all time great innings in Test cricket, Don scored 100 before lunch, 220 by tea-break and finished 309 before the end of the day’s play. Describing this remarkable achievement, Don writes, "In a long career there are many outstanding memories but I suppose the opening day of the Third Test at Leeds must rank as the greatest in my cricketing life. To break the world’s record Test score was exciting. To do so against Australia’s oldest and strongest rival was satisfying. More than anything else, however, was the knowledge that I had scored the runs at such a fast rate and therefore provided entertainment for the spectators." Maintaining his consistent form with the bat, Don scored 232 in the fifth Test. ‘The Kangaroo’ clobbered the English bowling, piling up 974 runs at an average of 139.14 runs per innings in the entire series ! Don Bradman became famous as a ‘Star of the Ashes’ overnight.Australians were so overwhelmed by the marvelous
accomplishment of their prodigal son that they went all out to welcome Don’s homecoming with great enthusiasm. Now, Don became an immensely popular personality. Once he was traveling through the deserted country of Nullarbor where crowds, flocked to greet their ‘hero’. He was feted at every station where the train stopped. To appreciate his superb form, two songs entitled ‘Our Don Bradman’ and ‘Take your Hats off to Bradman’ were released the same year.
Don played in 1930-31, against the touring West Indies and South African teams. The Australian team continued to perform at its best with Don as the star performer, who made many more centuries including two double tons – a 223 against the West Indians in the third Test and 258 against South Africa for NSW. He kept up the momentum in the 1931-32 season with another double ton – 219 runs, against South Africa for NSW. His scores against the visiting team were incredible. In the fourth Test, he scored 299, which was his highest ever score amongst all Tests played in Australia. This together with a great domestic season (a record 452 not out for NSW against Queensland) further established him as the greatest batsman.
Keeping His Words
In the midst of his career, many Australian and English beauties, film actresses and girls from rich families used to witness the dashing Don’s batting performances. Many of them yearned for his friendship, but Don had never dreamt of anyone except his childhood friend Jessie Menzies. When Bradman proposed to her earlier, she had answered wisely, "Wait until you get back from England, and if you still feel the same way, talk to me again."
Now, was the right time to reciprocate his feelings. On April 30, 1932, Don Bradman and Jessie Menzies tied the marital knot. Jessie was a lady of considerable warmth. She was good-looking, charming, jolly and a generous woman known for her charity and community work. Don’s love for Jessie lasted till his last breath.
Amid emotions, Bradman once said about Jessie, "She’s the most marvelous woman that ever existed." About 78 years after his first meeting with Jessie, Don recalled the days when he and Jessie walked to school daily for 12 months across the Glebe wicket. At the inauguration of the Bradman Museum in October 1989, he said, "She didn’t know it, I think I was then – not sure whether 11 or 12, but I decided to marry her. I didn’t ask her, I was too shy. But eventually I got around to it after another ten years and so formed the best partnership of my life."
Victim Of ‘Bodyline’
Don’s personal life was sailing smooth as was his batting career, as he got married and secured some commercial contracts. Soon after marriage, the Bradmans moved to their new house at Mcmahaon’s Point in Sydney. He had secured lucrative writing and broadcast contracts that caused friction between him and the Australian Cricket Board of Control. But it finally settled down after sometime. Further, he founded Don Bradman Limited with J. T. Smith. The company was licensed to the exclusive use of his (Don’s) name, photograph, likeness and signature for goods or merchandise, which the company would offer for sale.
Everything seemed to be going well according to plan but those at the helm of cricket had other ideas. They were cunningly planning his demise. Bradman’s sheer dominance of the ‘Bat over Ball’ was creating a storm in the eyes of the Englishmen. This resulted in what was then and famously known as the ‘Bodyline’ tactics. The 1932-33 series of Ashes against England proved to be cricket’s darkest era. When Douglas Jardine, captain of the English team came to Australia in 1932, for Ashes, he brought with him this ‘Bodyline’ bowling, meaning the direct attack by the bowler on the body of the batsman. Harold Larwood, England’s bodyline spearhead took 32 wickets in the series. By these tactics, the rivals subdued Bradman who scored a mere 396 runs at an average of 56.57 and won the series. Instead of highlighting the victory of England, the newspapers published articles indicating that ‘bodyline’ was devised to counter Bradman’s prolific scoring.
However, he was able to overcome this dark period with confidence. Bradman’s amazing run riot continued through the 1933-34 season for New South Wales against South Australia. With Bradman in phenomenal form, Australia was confident of regaining the Ashes, in England. Throughout the series, Bradman’s form flowered as it had been in 1930. He scored 758 runs at an average of 94.75. His best innings was in the fourth Test where he scored 304 and not only that, he also established a new world record partnership, scoring 451 for the second wicket with Bill Ponsford.
The 2-1 victory of Australia over England was thanks to Bradman’s superlative innings. In the last days of his England tour, however, Bradman had some serious health problems. He fell ill with a badly infected acute appendicitis, and was operated in London. Rumors began to spread overseas and some newspapers even published false reports about his death. In fact, Bradman was close to death but luckily recovered, ready to set greater cricketing landmarks.
Move To Adelaide
Around 1935, the Bradmans moved from Sydney to Adelaide, South Australia, for business reasons. Bradman associated with the share-broking firm of H. W. Hodgetts & Co. of Adelaide. Now, he became a leading stock and share-broker. Explaining the reason behind choosing a profession connected to the stock exchange, Bradman once said, "I always wanted a job that was not connected with cricket and that had nothing to do with cricket.
I got pushed into a job that was to do with cricket, newspaper work and radio work, but I got pushed into that because the depression came along and I was out of job, and I had to earn a living somehow. But I didn’t like it, so I waited until something came along and I could do something that had nothing to do with cricket. That’s why I came here to South Australia as a share broker."
In his new career also, his astuteness worked and he was able to adapt himself to the conditions of the stock market. Soon he made a mark as one of the leading stock and share brokers.
On being asked how he maintained a balance between his hobby and his business, Bradman replied, "When I had my own business in Adelaide, I’d go to work at 7 o’clock in the morning and work there until it was time to go to the Adelaide Oval. Then I’d go back to work at the office after play and work until 10.30 or 11 o’clock at night…that was regular, I had to do that, in connection with my work."
The 21st Captain Of Australia
Apart from cricket, Bradman also took interest in squash. In 1935, he won the South Australian Amateur Squash Title. One more feather was added to his cap when he was appointed captain of the Australian Test cricket team for the home series. In December the same year, playing for South Australia, having shifted from Sydney to Adelaide, he scored 117, 233, 357 and 369 in the Sheffield Shield tournament.
On December 4, 1936, the Australian team entered the field steered by Don Bradman, ready to battle the English. In the first Test of the series, Bradman was out for two successive ducks. At that time, it seemed the captaincy was suppressing Bradman’s batting skills, but he proved this assumption wrong with scores of 270, 212 and 169 in the successive Test innings of the series. Australia won by 3-2. Obviously the Ashes were once again in their hands.
In 1938, Bradman again toured England and scored three test centuries. In this series, Bradman was injured. His right foot ankle was fractured and he had to be hospitalized in London. The Australian batting then crumbled without their ‘little master’, that showed how much Australia was dependent upon their star – Bradman. However ‘the Kangaroos’ retained the Ashes with a 1-1 draw.
Post Hibernation Years
At the end of the 1938 tour, World War II had broken out. Like other fields, it interrupted the cricketing world also. It seemed that Bradman’s illustrious career had ended then. During this period, Bradman played brilliantly in the Sheffield Shield. For sometime, he even joined the army but had to quit soon because of fibrositis of the back muscles. In 1945, Bradman started his own business of stocks and shares, which was another reason to be away from cricket for many seasons.
In between, Don and Jessie’s second child John was born in 1939. Their first child had died in infancy. Two years after the birth of John, daughter Shirley Jane was born. Unfortunately, she suffered from multiple sclerosis. Don, the loving father tried everything for her recovery.
With the end of World War II, Test cricket saw its revival again in 1946. Bradman was elected to the Australian Board of Control in August 1945. Though he had not played cricket for five years and was suffering from severe muscular spasms, Bradman decided to play on, for a few more years as the Australian team desperately needed him, more so in an effort to help a post war recovery. The selectors insisted Bradman serve for his team once again. Thus he made up his mind to enter the international Test cricket arena after a long break of eight years.
The summer of 1946–47 was another great season for Bradman as he scored 680 runs at an average of 113.33 in the Test series against England. Australia won the Test series 3–0, that included two innings victories against the visiting English side. In 1947–48, it was the Indian cricket team, playing its first Test series against Australia, to face the full wrath of Bradman, who smashed 715 runs at an average of 178.75. Australia won the series 4–0. It was during this tour that Bradman announced that the forthcoming tour would be his last.
End Of The Great Career
In 1948, a 17-member Australian cricket team arrived for one more tour of England with the hope of winning the prestigious ‘Ashes’, under the captaincy of the now 40-years old Bradman. It was an exceptional series to cap off his career. They played six days a week for five months without losing a single match !
The entire English summer was the season of entertainment for cricket fans. When one Australian batsman failed, there was another ready to score the runs. Even the players down the order had good-humored complaints that they did not get a chance to bat ! The 1948 team was virtually invincible. Stunned by their marvelous victory, the cricket world hailed them as ‘The Invincibles’.
During this tour, Bradman used to receive hundreds of letters a day from fans the world over. His fans would write to him and request for autographs of the entire Australian team ! Bradman and his teammates anticipating the heavy demand for autographs, had already signed 5,000 autograph sheets on the voyage, to be sent to their fans. But due to a sharp rise in the demand for their autographs, merely within a week this stock too was found short !
Bradman played magnificently with some great hundreds throughout the series. But ironically, he could not reach an average of 100, as he was out for a duck in his final innings, falling short by just four runs. When he entered Oval to bat his last ever innings, he was given a standing ovation by the huge crowd, but when he left, there was pin drop silence, as he got dismissed on the second ball by Eric Hollies. Amid great emotion, Bradman returned to the pavilion. It was a tame end for such a prolific scorer of the game. The next day, newspapers published articles about the possible causes behind the great batsman’s failure in his final innings. On his last duck, Bradman wrote, "Some people said I got out because I had tears in my eyes. Of course, that’s rubbish."
The following year his testimonial match was held, where over 90,000 spectators flooded the Melbourne Cricket ground to watch it. Bradman left the cricket field, scoring 123 in the first innings of his last testimonial match.
The Observer daily remarked on Bradman’s retirement – "When Bradman was gone, the light seemed to go out of the game."
Becomes First Cricketer To Be Knighted
Recognizing his services to cricket and Commonwealth sporting links, Bradman’s name was included as Knight Bachelor in the 1949, New Year’s Honors List. He became the only cricketer to be knighted.
While receiving the award, he said, "This was an honor that I never sought or dreamt about. If there had been nobody else to please but myself, I would have preferred to remain just plain ‘Mister’. But it was an honor for the game of cricket and in that context I accepted the responsibility of the title conferred by knighthood…but one thing I do feel very proud of and that is that few people have ever carried the title of ‘Lady’ as graciously as my wife has and that if ever a woman deserved to be called a ‘Lady’, she did."
People then on started addressing him as ‘Sir Donald Bradman.’ On his 90th birthday Bradman described an experience of being ‘Sir’.
"About the last thing I ever wanted in life was a knighthood and even today some 40 years after the event, I find it difficult to come to terms with a life where old and valued friends insist on calling me ‘Sir’ instead of Don, simply because they think it is protocol. But I have consciously shouldered these burdens because I felt that I was the medium through which cricket could achieve a higher status and gain maximum support from the people, not only in Australia but throughout the world."
At The Fag Of Life
The years after retirement opened a new chapter in Sir Donald’s life. He continued to serve cricket as a selector and a member of the Australian Board of Control. He also served as the Chairperson of the Board for two terms. His contribution was acknowledged with the development of the Bradman Foundation in Bowral. Bradman spent the rest of his years with his wife Jessie and other family members in the house at Adelaide Hills. In quieter moments, he would play to his beloved wife, the Brinsmead grand piano in a drawing room furnished in part with elegant and priceless trophies, and recall his phenomenal career spanning 22 years.
Got Out In His Nervous Nineties
Bradman started feeling lonely after the death of his wife on September 14, 1997. Jessie died battling cancer. Although, Bradman kept himself busy answering enormous requests, for his autograph and for suggestions of forewords to books, he subsequently resigned from the number of posts he held during his life.
At the age of 92, the greatest batsman in Test cricket history, Sir Donald Bradman departed on February 25, 2001. He died peacefully at his home, after a short illness diagnosed as pneumonia. The ‘All Time Great’ Sir Donald was out before finishing his 100, the same that happened in his cricket career, when his average couldn’t reach beyond 99.94 to hit the magic figure.
Arthur Mailey, one of Bradman’s friends, once remarked, "Don Bradman will be remembered as one of the most remarkable sportsmen who ever graced the sporting stage of any country. Bradman is an enigma, a paradox, an idol to millions of people." Today, the die-hard fans of Sir Donald Bradman pay homage to him not only as a great cricketer, but also as an ‘all time great cricketer’ in the history of world cricket.
"DON IS OUT !" – this phrase of the commentator would provide lifelong fame for the bowler who dismissed the great Australian cricketer Donald Bradman, popularly known as the ‘Don’. The greatest phenomenon in the history of cricket, possessed a deep and undying love for cricket, rather an exceptional ability to play all ball games. The unique 20th century sporting hero’s career statistics outdistance a comparison with any other sports person. His outstanding career average of 99.94 runs is truly an amazing performance that remains unmatched.
Bradman was the icon of Australian cricket. A man who embodied the brilliance of all sporting spirit. He played as a knight in shining armor to vanquish his opponents, leading to Australia’s renewed interest in cricket, raising the passions of the entire continent and of the world. The only Australian cricketer to be knighted, Bradman wanted to be remembered for his integrity.
August 27, 1908
Born in the small town of Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia.
Bradman family moved to Bowral, NSW.
Went to Sydney to watch his first Test match.
Left the school and joined as a clerk with the Bowral Real Estate Agency.
Began playing for the Bowral Cricket Club.
State selectors invited Bradman to the cricket trial at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Selected to play Sheffield Shield for the NSW team.
Selected to play Test cricket for Australia. 1930
His first visit to England.
Broke the world’s batting record for the highest score in first class cricket, by scoring 452.
Set a new world-record scoring 334 runs in the third Test match against England at Leeds.
April 30, 1932
Married Jessie Menzies.
Moved to Adelaide from Sydney with his family. 1936
Appointed a test selector and captain of the Australian team.
Elected to the Australian Board of Control.
Under his captaincy, the Australian team won four matches to none against England, renowned as The Invincibles.
Retired from international cricket. March, 1949
Became the first Australian cricketer to be knighted.
Published his biography Farewell to Cricket.
Published a coaching manual The Art of Cricket. October, 1989
Inauguration of The Bradman Museum at Bowral.
His beloved wife Jessie Bradman died after battling cancer.
February 25, 2001
Died in Adelaide, Australia.
Greatest Cricketer Of The 20th Century
"There is no game which is better able to bring together on a common level and unite tens of thousands of people." The extract from the last chapter of Don Bradman’s book The Art of Cricket, published in 1958, throws light on the popularity of cricket. Don Bradman, was the figure, who added a prominent chapter to the history of cricket.
He was truly the gem of the 20th century. He gave back to cricket as much as he received. He can be described as the perfect cricket ambassador.
Bradman had a strong insight and his predictions on the rapidly changing game were proved right. Without question the greatest of all batsmen, he established his nation Australia on top of the cricket field, and his descendants are still following the path paved by their godfather.
Harold Larwood, the name associated with the controversial ‘Bodyline’ issue, better judged the batting skill of Bradman : "They said I was a killer with the ball without taking into account that Bradman with the bat was the greatest killer of all."
Bradman’s batting style was very well covered by Sir Robert Menzies, the famous sports author : "Bradman believed in a virtue of concentrating all his mind on the job at hand." Undoubtedly, he was proficient with all kinds of strokes. A consistent fast scorer who took very few risks and surprisingly, scored very few sixes during his career.
His favorite shot was probably the pull shot. He enjoyed the shot played covering the ground, from mid-on to backward square leg. Even when pulling or hooking, Bradman used to keep the ball on the ground. On his batting style, E. W. Stanton, the sports expert and an author wrote, "The stranger seeing him for the first time must have noticed the exceptional quickness of his reactions, his speed between the wickets and the lithe fitness that enabled him to take the longest stride. He was small boned, dapper, his power of stroke deriving from strong wrists and an exquisite sense of timing…. You saw all the strokes, the off drive less frequently than the others though. The precision and delicacy of his cutting especially struck one. He was a most delicate glancer, and adept at playing the ball off his body at all the on-side angles. When he hooked he got into position so quickly that he could hit the ball early with a downward thrust of the bat aiming in front of square leg… If perfect balance, co-ordination and certainty of execution be accepted as the principal ingredients of batsmanship, we who watched the Don in his early manhood will not hope or expect ever to see its art displayed in a higher form."
Bradman, was a multifaceted personality – a well-renowned cricketer, a successful stock broker, a tireless worker for disabled children, a formidable golfer, a lifelong letter–writer, an accomplished pianist and a witty after–dinner speaker. It would not surprise those close to Bradman, that he could speak on a wide variety of subjects and keep himself abreast with the new developments in the most thorough manner. Some say he was meticulous, others say that he was pedantic. But he could be defined in only one sentence that he was a perfectionist, who was used to having his own way.
Humbleness was another side of Bradman’s character. He was inspired by Stan McCabe’s batting. When Australia was playing against England at Nottingham in 1938, Bradman told his boys while seeing the magnificent innings of McCabe, "Come out on the balcony and have a look at this, because you’ll never see anything like it." Bradman considered it as the best innings he ever saw in his life. Bradman was an established cricketer then. In spite of this, he showed his politeness greeting McCabe and saying that, "I wish, I could play like that."
Bradman used to comment on a statement of Lord Harris, to everyone who asked him to give a message. Lord Harris was the captain of England and great ambassador of the game of cricket in the old days. Lord Harris also served as the governor of Bombay and contributed a lot to promote cricket in India.
The statement, made by Lord Harris on his 80th birthday, was a guiding principle for Bradman; and he followed it throughout his life : "You do well to love cricket, because it is more free from anything sordid, anything dishonorable than any game in the world. To play it keenly, generously, self-sacrificingly is a moral lesson in itself, and the classroom is God’s air and sunshine. Foster it, my brothers, so that it may attract all who find the time to play it, protect it from anything that will sully it, so that it may grow in favor with all man."
How truly practised, by the greatest cricketer among all !
•Play the game whole-heartedly, with spirit and zest, and play to win, but irrespective of the outcome, always treat your opponents as you would have them treat you, and play it as a sport. In other words, play cricket in the fullest meaning of the term.
•Bat on and on.
•Be patient and the Don shall speak !
•If you cannot be a cricketer you can at least look like one."
•When I played cricket… We were all amateurs… We didn’t earn our living playing cricket, we played cricket because we loved it, we loved the game.
•Many times have I been asked the difference between bowling in Test cricket and the bowling in lower grades of cricket. I have always replied : ‘In ordinary cricket one receives an excellent ball occasionally and a lot of bad ones. In Test cricket one receives a bad ball occasionally and a lot of good ones.’ The real difference, then, is the higher the grade the greater the accuracy.
•Throughout my experience of play in first-class cricket I have never once gone out to bat unless perfectly satisfied that my bat had the best balance of any I could possibly obtain, and I am certain it has played no small part in my success in Test cricket.
•A good captain must be a fighter; confident but not arrogant, firm but not obstinate, able to take criticism without letting it unduly disturb him, for he is sure to get it-and unfairly, too."
•Nothing would have persuaded me to go into politics. The lifestyle wouldn’t appeal to me."
•"I saw much better batsmen than I was. Lots of them… they just kept getting out."