Sir Donald George Bradman
1908 - 2001
Sir Donald George Bradman was an Australian cricketer - the
greatest batsman, if not cricketer, of all time.
Bradman was born in Cootamundra, New South Wales, on August 27,
1908, the youngest child of afarmer/carpenter. The family lived
in Yeo Yeo and moved to Bowral in 1911 because of his mother's
health. He learned his cricket from his maternal uncles George
and Richard Whatman. His mother used to bowl left-armers to him
in the backyard. Bradman developed his batting by throwing a
golf ball against a tank stand and playing it with a stump and
his fielding by throwing a golf ball at the bottom rail of a
As a teenager Bradman played Saturday afternoon cricket in the
country and quickly proceeded to amass huge scores. In 1926 the
New South Wales Cricket Association, which was incidentally
looking for bowlers, asked Bradman to play in trial games. While
making modest scores, he nonetheless attracted the eye of the
selectors as a player of the future. He played grade cricket
with the St. George club in Sydney (he later played with North
Sydney and, after moving to Adelaide, South Australia in 1935,
with the Kensington club). After some impressive scores he
played in his initial first class game for New South Wales
against South Australia in 1927 and scored a century. After a
series of big scores at the beginning of the 1928-1929 season,
he was chosen to play for Australia against Perry Chapman's
English side. While performing poorly in the first test and
being dropped to 12th man for the second, he scored two
centuries in the remaining rubbers to establish his place in the
Being a self-taught batsman, much criticism was directed at
Bradman's lack of style, his tendency to play cross bat shots,
and the problems he would encounter on softer English wickets.
Bradman answered his critics by consistently amassing huge
scores. Throughout his career he was a fast and high scoring
batsman who could reduce even the best bowling attacks to
seeming mediocrity. His initial tour of England in 1930 can only
be described as a triumphal procession in which he
established himself as a figure of international stature. He
scored 2, 960 runs on tour at an average of 98.66. In test
matches he scored 974 runs at an average of 139.14, including
scores of 131, 254, 334, and 452. On both the 1930 and 1938
tours of England he scored 1, 000 runs before the end of May. He
became the only player to achieve such a distinction. In the
1938-1939 season he scored six centuries in a row, equaling C.
B. Fry's record. Only the bodyline bowling, where the ball is
pitched short and aimed in the general direction of the head,
employed by Douglas Jardine's 1932-1933 English side curbed
Bradman. His average fell to 56.57, which would still be the
envy of most batsmen. Such was the hostility generated by
bodyline bowling (which was eventually outlawed) that diplomatic
exchanges occurred between Australia and England.
Bradman's average in first class cricket was 95.14, and in test
cricket it was 99.94, being only four runs short of a 100
average. He scored 117 centuries in first class cricket (29 in
tests), a century every third time he batted. His centuries
included 31 double (ten in tests), five triple (two in tests),
and one quadruple century - his famous 452 got out against
Queensland in 1930.
In 1936 Bradman was appointed captain of Australia to oppose
Gubby Allen's touring English side. He continued captaining
Australia until 1948, notwithstanding a five year absence from
cricket caused by World War II. Bradman was a most successful
captain. In the 24 tests while he was captain Australia won 15,
lost three, and drew six. The team which toured England in 1948
had the distinction of never losing a game.
After retiring, Bradman was knighted in January 1949. He
maintained contact with the game as a selector and
having two stints as chairman of the Australian Cricket Board,
1960 to 1963 and 1969 to 1972. His most important decision as
chairman was to cancel the visit of a South African team in
1971-1972 because of the expected bitterness and violence
associated with opposition to South Africa's apartheid politics.
From 1965 to 1973, Bradman served as President of the South
Australian Cricket Association. After leaving cricket, he had a
successful career in the finance industry, working for H.W.
Hodgetts and Company on the Adelaide Exchange.
The late 1980s and 1990s saw a spate of biographical material on
Bradman. In 1988 he released his book, The Bradman Albums, and
two biographies of him, Charles Williams' Bradman: An Australian
Hero, and Roland Perry's book, The Don, were published in 1996.
Clearly time does not diminish Bradman's status as a hero in his
native Australia, or anywhere else that appreciates cricket.
Sir Donald George Bradman (August 27, 1908 - February 25, 2001)
was an Australian cricket player who is universally regarded as
the greatest cricket player of all time, and one of Australia's
greatest popular heroes.
Born in Cootamundra, but raised in Bowral where the Bradman
Museum and Bradman Oval are sited, he was noted as a youth for
his obsessive practice, often hitting a ball repeatedly against
a wall using only a cricket stump.
After a brief dalliance with tennis he dedicated himself to
cricket, playing for local sides before attracting sufficient
attention to be drafted in grade cricket in Sydney at the age of
18. Within a year he was representing New South Wales and
within three he had made his Test debut.
Receiving some criticism in his first Ashes series in 1928-1929
he worked constantly to remove the few weaknesses in his game
and by the time of the Bodyline series was without peer as a
Possessing a great stillness whilst awaiting the delivery, his
shotmaking was based on a combination of excellent vision,
speed of both thought and footwork and a decisive, powerful bat
motion with a pronounced follow-through. Technically his play
was almost flawless, strong on both sides of the wicket with
only his sternest critics noting a tendency for his backlift to
be slightly angled toward the slip cordon.
Despite occasional battles with illness, he continued to
dominate world cricket throughout the 1930s and is credited with
raising the spirit of a nation suffering under the vagaries of
the economic depression, until war intervened.
Over an international career spanning nearly 20 years from 1930
to 1948, Bradman's statistical achievements were
unparalleled. He broke scoring records for both first-class and
Test cricket; his highest international score (334) stood for
decades as the highest ever test score by an Australian. It was
then equalled by Mark Taylor, who declared with his score at
334 not out in what many regard as a deliberate tribute to
Bradman. In 2003 it was once more equalled then surpassed by
another fellow Australian, Matthew Hayden, who fittingly went on
to gain the highest score in Test cricket (380) up to that
For decades, Bradman was the only player with two Test triple
centuries in a career. He was joined by West Indian Brian Lara
in 2004; Lara broke Hayden's record, and recorded the first Test
quadruple century in history, in the process of joining
Bradman in this exclusive club.
Approaching forty years of age (most players are retired by
their mid-30s), he returned to play cricket after World War II,
leading one of the most talented teams in Australia's history.
In his farewell 1948 tour of England the team he led, dubbed
"the Invincibles", went undefeated throughout the tour, a feat
unmatched before or since.
On the occasion of his last international innings, Bradman
needed four runs to be able to retire with a batting average of
100, but was dismissed for nought (in cricketing parlance, "a
duck") by spin bowler Eric Hollies. Applauded onto the pitch by
both teams, it was sometimes claimed that he was unable to see
the ball due to the tears welling in his eyes, a claim Bradman
always dismissed as sentimental nonsense. "I knew it would be my
last test match after a career spanning 20-years", he said, "but
to suggest I got out as some people did, because I had tears in
my eyes is to belittle the bowler and is quite untrue."
Regardless, he was given a guard of honor by players and
spectators alike as he left the ground with a batting average of
99.94 from his 52 tests, nearly double the average of any other
player before or since. His average is immortalised as the post
office box number of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation -
"Box 9994 in your capital city".
Bradman so dominated the game that special bowling tactics,
known as fast leg theory or Bodyline, regarded by many as
unsporting and dangerous, were devised by England captain
Douglas Jardine to reduce his dominance in a series of
international matches against England in the Australian summer
of 1932 - 1933. The principal English exponent of Bodyline was
the Nottinghamshire pace bowler Harold Larwood, and the contest
between Bradman and Larwood was to prove to be the focal point
of the contest.
Some indication of his superlative skill was that his average
for that series, 56.57, is above the career averages of all but
a handful of international players in the 125-odd years of
international cricket matches. Statistical analyses give some
credence to the claim that Bradman dominated his sport more than
Pelé, Ty Cobb, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, amongst other
champions of their disciplines. Regardless, his impact on a
nation's psyche is arguably unmatched.
After retiring from playing cricket, Bradman continued working
as a stockbroker. Allegations that he had acted improperly
during the collapse of his employer's firm and the subsequent
establishment of his own, were made behind closed doors until
his death, were publicised in November, 2001. He became heavily
involved in cricket administration, serving as a selector for
the national team for nearly 30 years. He was selector (and
acknowledged as a force urging the players of both teams to play
entertaining, attacking cricket) for the famous Australia - West
Indies test series of 1960-61.
As a member of the Australian Cricket Board, and, reportedly,
their de facto leader, he was also involved in negotiations
with the World Series Cricket schism in the late 1970s. Ian
Chappell, former test captain and selected to lead the rebel
Australian side, has stated that he places much responsibility
for the split on Bradman, who in his opinion had forgotten his
own difficulties with the cricket authorities of the time.
He was also famous for answering innumerable letters from
cricket fans across the world, which he continued to do until
well into his eighties.
Bradman married his childhood sweetheart, Jessie, and had two
children, John and Lorraine. An intensely private person,
probably because of the intense media scrutiny he suffered
under, he was regarded as aloof even by teammates, particularly
in later years. A strict Methodist, he had occasionally been
accused of anti-Catholicism in his actions as captain and
selector - however, it should be pointed out that at that time
sectarian prejudice was very widespread in Australia.
Bradman is immortalised in two popular songs of very different
styles and eras, "Our Don Bradman," a jaunty 1930's ditty by
Jack O'Hagan, and the folk-influenced rock of Paul Kelly in the
1980's. The story of the Bodyline series was also told in a
He also wrote several books on cricket technique and tactics,
which are regarded as classics.
He was awarded a knighthood in 1949, and a Companion of the
Order of Australia (Australia's highest civil honour) in 1979.
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This web page was last updated on:
12 December, 2008