Donald Bradman


Donald Bradman : biography

27 August 1908 – 25 February 2001
  • Most consecutive matches in which he made a century: 6 (the last three Tests in 1936–37, and the first three Tests in 1938)
  • Bradman has averaged over 100 in seven different calendar years (*qualification 400 runs). No other player has achieved this in more than two calendar years.
  • Fastest player to reach 2000 (in 22 innings), 3000 (33 innings), 4000 (48 innings), 5000 (56 innings) and 6000 (68 innings) Test runs.
  • Fastest Australian and 3rd Fastest in the World to reach 1000 runs(13 innings)
  • Fastest cricketer to reach 1000 test runs(7 tests)considering test matches rather than test innings(see above record for test innings)

Cricket context

Bradman’s Test batting average of 99.94 has become one of cricket’s most famous, iconic statistics. No other player who has played more than 20 Test match innings has finished with a Test average of more than 61. Bradman scored centuries at a rate better than one every three innings—in 80 Test innings, Bradman scored 29 centuries. Only eight players have surpassed his total, all at a much slower rate: Sachin Tendulkar (who required 159 innings to do so), Matthew Hayden (167 innings), Ricky Ponting (170 innings), Sunil Gavaskar (174 innings), Jacques Kallis (200 innings), Brian Lara (205 innings), Steve Waugh (247 innings) and Rahul Dravid (250 innings). He converted 41.4% of his centuries into double centuries. Bradman’s total of 12 Test double hundreds (in 15.0% of his innings) is the most achieved by any batsman. The next best is Brian Lara with 9 in 232 innings (3.9%), Kumar Sangakkara 8 in 179 innings (4.5%) and Walter Hammond with 7 in 140 innings (5.0%).

World sport context

Wisden hailed Bradman as, "the greatest phenomenon in the history of cricket, indeed in the history of all ball games". Statistician Charles Davis analysed the statistics for several prominent sportsmen by comparing the number of standard deviations that they stand above the mean for their sport. The top performers in his selected sports are:

Athlete Sport Statistic Standarddeviations
Bradman Cricket Batting average 4.4
Pelé Association football Goals per game 3.7
Ty Cobb Baseball Batting average 3.6
Jack Nicklaus Golf Major titles 3.5
Michael Jordan Basketball Points per game 3.4

The statistics show that "no other athlete dominates an international sport to the extent that Bradman does cricket". In order to post a similarly dominant career statistic as Bradman, a baseball batter would need a career batting average of .392, while a basketball player would need to score an average of 43.0 points per game. The respective records are .366 and 30.1.

When Bradman died, Time allocated a space in its "Milestones" column for an obituary:

… Australian icon considered by many to be the pre-eminent sportsman of all time … One of Australia’s most beloved heroes, he was revered abroad as well. When Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, his first question to an Australian visitor was, "Is Sir Donald Bradman still alive?"

In popular culture

Bradman’s name has become an archetypal name for outstanding excellence, both within cricket and in the wider world. The term Bradmanesque has been coined and is used both within and without cricketing circles. Steve Waugh described Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan as "the Don Bradman of bowling", while former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was called "the Don Bradman of politics" by his Liberal Party colleague Joe Hockey.