With these unfamiliar words which were spread all over the London evening news paper, people that either loved or loathed cricket discovered that Donald Bradman the most amazing batsman of all time was in fact human after all. Walking to the crease at The Oval in his very last test in 1948 against England, Bradman needed just 4 runs to garner an average of 100. He was promptly bowled for 0 and finished his illustrious career with an average of 99.94.
Bradman was born in the South west slopes region of Cootamundra on August 27, 1908 to George and Emily Bradman. His family relocated to Bowral in the Southern Highlands when Bradman was 3. Throughout his young years, Bradman practiced cricket incessantly. One of his more unorthodox training methods was to use a cricket stump to hit a golf ball against a corrugated iron water tank. Due to the surface the ball would deflect at speed at differing angles. This training developed his hand-eye coordination to an unmatchable level and heavily contributed to his remarkable shot making throughout his career.
Bradman showed promise at cricket at an early age and scored his first century at age 12 for Bowral Public school against Mittagong Public school.
After watching the Australian cricket team against the touring English at the SCG in 1920, Bradman made the ambition that he “would never be satisfied” until he played on that ground. Bradman very soon became a regular in the Bowral Cricket team and proved his worth as a batsman with 234 against Wingello and future test bowler Bill O’Reilly. His timing, placement and foot movement put him above any of the players around him and displayed the raw and natural talent that “the Don” had. With these brilliant performances, Bradman was soon invited to play Sydney grade cricket and not long after made his debut for the NSW state team. When provided the opportunity, Bradman took it with both hands. He scored 118 on debut for NSW aged just 19, his quick footwork, rapid scoring and mature approach dazzled fans and journalist alike.
A productive season with NSW in 1928/1929 saw him selected for the Australian test team. He went on to play 80 innings and score 29 centuries. Bradman had a harsh introduction to test cricket as he only scored 19 runs over two innings. He was dropped, before forcing his way back into the test fold and was never dropped again.
Australia on the back of Bradman’s dominant performances recorded test series wins over England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies and cemented themselves as the number 1 team in cricket.
Bradman became captain of the Australian team in 1937 and over the next decade proved that he was just a good a captain as he was batsman. He consistently guided Australia to victories and his astute thinking often had opposing teams on the back foot.
World War 2 disrupted a large part of the 1940’s and in turn Bradman joined the RAAF, transferred to the army and earned the rank of lieutenant. His health deteriorated however and he spend the last few years of the war stockbroking and recuperating from appendicitis.
After early struggles he regained his pre-war form and proved once again why he was the greatest batsman on earth.
He retired in 1948 and continually gave back to the cricket community including working for the South Australian Board of Control for 35 years. He passed away in February of 2001 after a short bout of illness, his funeral was watched by over 1 million adoring fans.
The quote by famous English bowler Fred Trueman sums it up perfectly “he was the best”.