Donald Bradman


Donald Bradman : biography

27 August 1908 – 25 February 2001

"The ghost of a once great cricketer"

In 1945–46, Bradman suffered regular bouts of fibrositis while coming to terms with increased administrative duties and the establishment of his business.Page (1983), pp 271–272. He played for South Australia in two matches to help with the re-establishment of first-class cricket and later described his batting as "painstaking".Bradman (1950), p 125. Batting against the Australian Services cricket team, Bradman scored 112 in less than two hours, yet Dick Whitington (playing for the Services) wrote, "I have seen today the ghost of a once great cricketer".Eason (2004), p 337. Bradman declined a tour of New Zealand and spent the winter of 1946 wondering whether he had played his last match. "With the English team due to arrive for the 1946–47 Ashes series, the media and the public were anxious to know if Bradman would lead Australia."Williams (1996) pp 205–206. "It was all the more obvious that, on any analysis, the only figure of stature who could lead Australia back into the post-War cricket era was ‘the little feller’, the ‘sick man of Adelaide’, the wartime invalid now nearing forty. It is little wonder that all Australia wanted to know precisely what he was proposing to do." His doctor recommended against a return to the game. Encouraged by his wife, Bradman agreed to play in lead-up fixtures to the Test series.Bradman (1950), p 126. After hitting two centuries, Bradman made himself available for the First Test at The Gabba.

Controversy emerged on the first day of the First Test at Brisbane. After compiling an uneasy 28 runs, Bradman hit a ball to the gully fieldsman, Jack Ikin. "An appeal for a catch was denied in the umpire’s contentious ruling that it was a bump ball". At the end of the over, England captain Wally Hammond spoke with Bradman and criticised him for not "walking"; "from then on the series was a cricketing war just when most people desired peace", Whitington wrote.Whitington (1974), p 190. Bradman regained his finest pre-war form in making 187, followed by 234 during the Second Test at Sydney (Sid Barnes also scored 234 during the innings, many in a still standing 405 run 5th Wicket partnership with Bradman. Barnes later recalled that he purposely got out on 234 because "it wouldn’t be right for someone to make more runs than Bradman"). Australia won both matches by an innings. Jack Fingleton speculated that had the decision at Brisbane gone against him, Bradman would have retired, such were his fitness problems.Fingleton (1949), p 22. In the remainder of the series, Bradman made three half-centuries in six innings, but was unable to make another century; nevertheless, his team won handsomely, 3–0. He was the leading batsman on either side, with an average of 97.14. Nearly 850,000 spectators watched the Tests, which helped lift public spirits after the war.Bradman (1950), p 139.

Century of centuries and "The Invincibles"

India made its first tour of Australia in the 1947–48 season. On 15 November, Bradman made 172 against them for an Australian XI at Sydney, his 100th first-class century. The first non-Englishman to achieve the milestone, Bradman remains the only Australian to have done so. Bradman scored 117 centuries. At 14 May 2008, the closest Australians to the 100-century mark are Darren Lehmann and Justin Langer with 82. The other non-English players to score 100 centuries—Viv Richards, Zaheer Abbas and Glenn Turner—started their first-class cricket careers after Bradman had retired from all forms of cricket. In five Tests, he scored 715 runs (at 178.75 average). His last double century (201) came at Adelaide, and he scored a century in each innings of the Melbourne Test. On the eve of the Fifth Test, he announced that the match would be his last in Australia, although he would tour England as a farewell.

Australia had assembled one of the great teams of cricket history. Bradman made it known that he wanted to go through the tour unbeaten, a feat never accomplished, before or since. English spectators were drawn to the matches knowing that it would be their last opportunity to see Bradman in action. RC Robertson-Glasgow observed of Bradman that: