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Sir Donald Bradman: The ‘Don’ of Cricket World

Sir Donald George Bradman or The Don, as the Australian cricketer is popularly known, is justifiably considered as the greatest Test batsman of all time. With a near perfect Test batting average of 99.94, he is the hallmark by which the rarest of batting talents are measured.

inspiring-lives Updated: Jul 02, 2019 12:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
As a boy, Bradman used a stump in place of a bat, a golf ball and a tank stand at home to perfect his batting
As a boy, Bradman used a stump in place of a bat, a golf ball and a tank stand at home to perfect his batting(Illustration: Mohit Suneja)

Born on August 27, 1908, in Australia’s New South Wales province as the youngest child of George and Emily Bradman, Donald George Bradman grew up with three sisters and a brother. He developed a deep love for cricket. As a boy, he used a stump in place of a bat, a golf ball and a tank stand at home to perfect his batting.

Boy from Bowral

Aged 12, he scored his first ton for his alma mater, Bowral Public School. At the age of 20, on his Test debut against England in Brisbane in Nov-Dec 1928, Bradman scored 18 and 1. Australia were shot out for 66 in the second innings to lose by 675 runs. After being dropped for the second Test, Bradman was recalled for the third Test in Melbourne. He scored 79 and 112 to become the youngest to hit a century at that level. In the final Test, Bradman top-scored with 123 in the first innings.

During the Ashes series in 1930, Bradman hit 131 and 254 in the first Test and 254 in the second. On the opening day of the third Test, he scored a century each before lunch and between lunch and tea, before reaching 309 not out at stumps. Eventually he scored 334, a world-record. In the decider at The Oval, Bradman made 232. Along with Archie Jackson, he helped Australia regain the Ashes and become a national hero.

In 1932-33 England, led by Douglas Jardine, chalked out ‘Bodyline’ tactics to counter Bradman. England won the first Test but Bradman suffered a first-ball duck in the second Test, yet scored a ton in the 2nd innings and starred in a win though England regained the Ashes.

The Don emerges

During the 1934 tour of England, with the series level 1-1 , Bradman and Bill Ponsford sewed up a world record stand of 388 in the fourth Test. The former scored 304 in the match washed away by rain. In the final Test, Bradman (244 ) and Ponsford starred in another 451-run stand for a world record. Australia won by 562 runs to wrest the Ashes. In 1936-37, when England visited Australia, the latter lost the first two Tests as Bradman, then the captain, suffered two ducks in four innings. In the third Test, he hit 270 and crafted a record stand of 346 with Jack Fingleton in Australia’s win. In the next Test in Adelaide, he scored 212 in the second innings. In the decider, Bradman starred with 169 to fashion his team’s win.

During India’s fist Test tour of Australia in 1947-48, Bradman, scored his last double century (201) at Adelaide and a ton in each innings of the Melbourne Test.

On his last tour as the skipper of the Australian team to England, Bradman scored a ton at Trent Bridge and in the Fourth Test, with Australia needing 404 for a win in just 345 minutes, Arthur Morris (182) and Bradman (173 not out) achieved the target just 15 minutes before the end. In the final Test, Bradman was bowled out for a duck and his career average of 99.94 was just four runs shy of an incredible 100.

Personal life

Bradman met Jessie Martha Menzies in 1920 and they were married in 1932. She was a pillar of support to him and they complemented each other in a 65-year-long marriage. Her death in 1997 affected him badly and Bradman passed away on Feb 25, 2001. aged 92.

Interesting facts

1. In 1949, Bradman was made a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his services to cricket, making him the only Australian cricketer to receive the British honour. In 1979, he was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia.

2. The Wisden Yearbook, which is considered the ‘Bible of Cricket’, termed Bradman as “the greatest phenomenon in the history of cricket, indeed in the history of all ball games” Cricket experts also selected him as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century.

3. The Bradman Museum was opened in 1989 at the Bradman Oval in his hometown, Bowral. It was reformed as a non-profit charitable trust first called the Bradman Foundation and then as the International Cricket Hall of Fame.

4. In 1996, when the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame was created, Bradman was made one of its 10 inaugural members. Each of the 100 members of the panel was able to select five cricketers: All 100 voted for Bradman. The ICC Cricket Hall of Fame inducted him in November 2009.

5. Three years before he died, Bradman became the first living Australian to be featured on an Australian postage stamp. After his death, the Australian Government produced a 20-cent coin to commemorate his life.

Sources: Wikipedia, famousauthors.org