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|LEGENDS & VOTE
Profiles of eight of the best players in Ashes history
|SIR DONALD BRADMAN (1908-2001)
New South Wales, South Australia & Australia
There are not enough superlatives in the English language to write a fitting analysis of Bradman.
He was, quite obviously, the most prodigious run-machine in the history of cricket.
In a career spanning 20 years, ‘The Don’, as he came to be known, amassed 28,067 runs in 338 innings and scored 117 centuries, a rate of better than one for every three times he went to the wicket.
Of these three-figure innings, one exceeded 400, five 300 and 31 past 200. His average was 95.14 and in Test cricket it was 99.94.
Part of the apprenticeship to his technical mastery of the art of batting took place in childhood when practising on his own with a golf ball and a single stump in lieu of a bat.
The slant and velocity of the ball’s rebound from a curved brick wall supporting a rainwater tank was unpredictable.
To be able to hit the ball required a speed of reaction and deft footwork that were to become essential components of his batting.
On his first-class debut in 1927 for New South Wales against South Australia, Bradman made 118.
Nine first-class games later he made his Test debut at Brisbane against England.
In the third Test of that 1928-29 series at Melbourne he scored 79 and 112, the first of 29 Test hundreds.
Again at Melbourne in the fifth Test he scored another hundred. During the next season he broke the world record for the highest individual score with 452 not out for NSW against Queensland at Sydney.
For the 1930 tour to England, his reputation preceded him, but none could have foreseen the utter extent of his domination.
In the five Test matches he scored 974 runs (the highest in any Test series) including four centuries with magnificent innings of 131 at Trent Bridge, 254 at Lord’s, 334 at Headingley and 232 at the Oval.
He also achieved the much sought-after but rarely accomplished 1,000 runs by the end of May (1001 in exactly 24 hours of batting).
By the end of the tour he had scored 2,960 runs at an average of 98.66. Bradman had in effect, revolutionised the game by bringing a new dimension into batsmanship.
The much berated bodyline bowling of 1932-33, when Douglas Jardine and his side toured Australia, was devised especially to curb Bradman’s scoring; even so he averaged 56.57 in four Tests, having missed one through illness.
Together with his previous achievements, aggregates of 758 (including 304 at Headingley and 244 at the Oval) in 1934; 810 (including 270 at Melbourne and 212 at Adelaide) in, 1936-37; inspired a new adjective, ‘Bradmanesque’, to be brought into the vocabulary.
In 1938, he hit 13 hundreds on his third tour of the old country and became the first batsman to average over a 100 in an English season. Again he reached 1,000 runs before the end of May.
All five series under Bradman’s captaincy (four against England, one against India) were won by Australia. When England toured Australia in 1946-47, he scored 680 runs (including a double century at Sydney) in the series and on his last tour of England in 1948, there were centuries at Trent Bridge and Headingley.
He was bowled second ball by Hollies for a duck after an overwhelming reception as he came to the wicket for his last Test innings at the Oval.
In 52 Tests, he had scored 6,996 runs at an average of 99.94 - a single boundary short of an average of 100.
Ruthless determination, unflagging concentration and shrewd judgement were characteristics he brought to both batting and captaincy.
Some thought the clinical efficiency and self-control Bradman displayed as player and later administrator lacked heart, but even his critics held him in the highest regard.
A private man, he found the public adulation as he became a hero of a nation forging a new identity, a heavy cross to carry: iconic status has a price.
He bore it though, unflinchingly, and until the last years, without complaint.
Donald George Bradman was knighted in 1949 for services to cricket and in 1979 appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia.