Don Bradman, legend of Australian cricket
Don Bradman was Australia’s greatest sportsman, being the most successful batsman to have ever emerged in the history of cricket — not just in Australia, but around the entire world.
Bradman was born in Cootamundra, New South Wales, on the 27th of August 1908; he grew up in Bowral (NSW) and had an avid interest in cricket. When he was twelve years old, he obtained his first century in a school match (scoring 115 runs, not out, as part of the team’s overall score of 156), and later went on to play for the Bowral cricket team. His natural abilities in the sport were recognized and he was invited to play at state level.
In 1927 (at the age of 19), Bradman had his first-class match debut when he played for the New South Wales team, in a match in Adelaide, against South Australia (scoring 118 runs). He went on to join the national team and broke a number of cricketing records.
Bradman was regarded as an eminently fair and honourable player, not only by Australians, but also by many from other cricketing nations. However, his batting ability was so amazing that the English cricket team (led by Douglas Jardine) which toured Australia during 1932-1933 came up with the nasty and most unsportsmanlike tactic of “bodyline bowling”, whereby a ball was bowled in such a manner as to cause a batsman to hit it in an awkward way or else risk bodily injury (these Test matches came to be known as the “Bodyline” series). Bodyline bowling was a tactic widely frowned upon, and during the infamous “Bodyline” series Australian cricket crowds were angry at the English tactics. With regards to one Test match, an Australian player was reported to have said “there are two teams out there and only one of them is playing cricket”.
Bradman went on to break more cricketing records and became captain of the Australian cricket team. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Australian Air Force and then in the Australian Army, but was discharged on medical grounds, due to some health problems which plagued him for some years.
He ended up playing cricket again, before finally retiring in 1948. It is one of the great shames of cricketing history that Bradman did not retire prior to his final match, his Test batting average was over a century at 101.39, but he was bowled for a duck in his last match and thus his final Test average fell just below the 100 mark, at 99.94.
Don Bradman continued to play a role in the sport, by taking on an administration role; he was later knighted for his services.
When “the Don” died on the 25th of February 2001, he was hailed as the greatest cricket player that the world had ever seen.
References and further reading:
Roland Perry. The Don, Pan MacMillan Australia, Sydney, 1995 [see p.21 re. score as a 12 year old]
“Don Bradman”, Australian Government
“Sir Donald Bradman”, Bradman Foundation
“The Ashes. Part 6: Bodyline Series”, Abc of Cricket
“Sir Donald Bradman at 100”, The Monthly, August 2008
“The Bradman Digital Library”, State Library of South Australia
“Don Bradman”, Wikipedia
“Sir Donald Bradman”, ESPN Cricinfo
“Sir Donald Bradman, 2002: A personal recollection”, [E.W. Swanton] , ESPN Cricinfo
“Obituary, 2002: Don Bradman”, [Wisden Almanack], ESPN Cricinfo