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Don Bradman

Photograph of Don Bradman with his cricket bat and pads

Portrait of Don Bradman, 1930-39, gelatin silver. Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia: nla.pic-an23251485.

Sir Donald Bradman is an Australian sporting legend.

No other sportsperson in Australian history has captured the respect and admiration of the sporting public the way 'The Don', the cricketer from Bowral in the State of New South Wales (NSW), has done.

During his 21 years of first-class cricket, Bradman achieved everything that was possible in the sport - he captained his South Australian Sheffield Shield team; was a State selector; Test selector; and captain of the Australian Team for almost a decade, including of the 1948 Australian Test team known as The Invincibles.

Bradman averaged a century - 100 runs - once in every three innings he played. His batting averages are revered.

In his first international tour (1930) Bradman made 2960 runs (with a batting average of 98.66), including 10 centuries. In his final tour 18 years later, he made 2428 runs with an 89.92 batting average, including 11 centuries.

When he retired in 1948, Bradman's legacy to the cricketing world was a remarkable Test batting average of 99.94.

The tributes to Bradman kept coming after he retired. In 1949 he became the only Australian cricketer to be knighted. And in 1988 the Australian Confederation of Sport voted him greatest male athlete of the past 200 years.

In 1960 Bradman became the first former Test player to be elected chairman of the Australian Board of Control. He continued to serve cricket as a selector and a member of the Board, including as chairman, for two terms. On 16 June 1979 he was invested as a Companion of the Order of Australia.

According to Bradman's official web site, this famous cricketer also holds other awards, including:

  • Sportsman of the Century;
  • Captain of the Greatest Team of the Century (1948 Australian cricket team);
  • Wisden Cricketer of the Century;
  • Captain of the Australian Cricket Team of the Century;
  • nominated in the top ten world sports figures of the century by the World Confederation of Sport; and
  • elected in the top 100 world figures of the twentieth century - one of only two Australians to be included.
Bradman leading team onto field for the Bradman Testimonial match, Melbourne, 1948

Don Bradman leading his team onto the field at the start of Bradman Testimonial match, Melbourne, December 1948, negative: b&w. Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia: nla.pic-an23751614.

Donald George Bradman was born on 27 August 1908 in the NSW country town of Cootamundra, moving to Bowral in the Southern Highlands of NSW two and a half years later with his family.

He attended Bowral Public School and spent many hours during his childhood playing backyard cricket with a golf ball and a cricket stump. As a teenager Bradman played cricket for his school and county, coming to the attention of state and national selectors.

In 1928 Bradman made his Test cricket debut for Australia, which was the beginning of his celebrated and record-breaking career.

In a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 1930, Bradman, at 21 years of age, broke the world's batting record for the highest score in first-class cricket by smashing the previous record of 437 runs held by Bill Ponsford. Bradman scored 452 runs not out in just 415 minutes. At the same time he also made 1000 runs for the season.

This remarkable performance launched Bradman's international career with his inclusion in the team to tour England. Fans saw him smash many more records. For example, in the Third Test at Leeds Bradman broke the world Test batting record with 334 runs, scoring 309 runs in a day; and in the Fifth Test he scored 232 runs to have a series Test aggregate of 974 runs at a batting average of 139.14.

When he returned to Australia - still only 21 years old - Bradman was already an Australian legend. Writing in the Bradman Albums he said:

In a long career there are many outstanding memories but I suppose the opening day of the Third Test at Leeds must rank as the greatest in my cricketing life. To break the world's record Test score was exciting. More than anything else, however, was the knowledge that I had scored the runs at such a fast rate and therefore provided entertainment for the spectators.

Wedding of Don Bradman and Jessie Menzies

Sam Hood (1872 - 1953), Wedding of Don Bradman (and Jessie Menzies), 1932. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales: DG ON4/7305.

On 30 April 1932 Bradman married his childhood sweetheart Jessie Menzies, and he later described their union as the greatest partnership of his life.

Bradman was elected to the Australian Board of Control in August 1945, during a five-year hiatus from playing cricket due to severe muscular spasms. After not expecting to play again, he accepted the Australian captaincy in 1946 for the test series against England, in an effort to help a post-war recovery.

During the 1947-48 Test series against India Bradman scored 172 runs, his 100th first class century, and led Australia to a 4-0 win with a batting average of 178.75. During the tour Bradman announced that the forthcoming tour to England would be his last.

In March 1948, Bradman captained the Australian Test team who became known as The Invincibles - the greatest Australian side in history. During the team's eight-month tour of England, which was Bradman's finale, the team won every match.

In early December 1948, more than 94,000 people flooded to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch Bradman in his testimonial game.

Sir Donald Bradman died on 25 February 2001 at the age of 92. He is widely recognised as the world's best ever batsman and a truly great Australian.

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Last updated: 7 April 2008
Creators: Clarity Communications Australia Pty Ltd

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