Sir Donald Bradman’s Summer Of Delight

From Bradman.jpg — Don Bradman — Source: http:... Image via Wikipedia

Donald George Bradman made his Test debut for Australia at 20 against the 1928-29 visiting England side.

Although Bradman aggregated 468 and played in four of the five matches in the series, there was very little inkling of what was to follow in the summer of 1930 when Australia toured England.

The Summer of 1930 is recalled as “The Summer That Changed Cricket”. Christopher Hilton in his book “Bradman and The Summer That Changed Cricket: The Amazing 1930 Australian Tour of England” documents Sir Donald’s innings and the reactions to his stupendous Test aggregate of 974 in five Tests; a monumental feat that has not been surpassed in eight decades since.

The closest all-time greats,to the phenomenon, are Wally Hammond aggregating 905 in nine innings in 1928-29 (England in Australia) and Mark Taylor eking out 839 in 11 innings in 1989 (Australia in England). Bradman needed just seven innings to secure his place in history forever.

I had the good fortune to lay my hands on a copy of Hilton’s tome.

Here are some interesting titbits from the iconic account:

Bradman’s Youth

Most admirers of the great Australian are aware of how the great spent his childhood hitting a golf ball with a stump against a curved brick wall.

A wonderful way to sharpen one’s reflexes.

What is not as well known is that Bradman was a decent tennis player. He chose cricket as his calling instead.

Hilton has not elaborated further in his book. But tennis’ loss was cricket’s gain, in every sense of the word.

Bradman (left, with his vice-captain Stan McCa... Image via Wikipedia
Monies For Playing England

Bradman was selected to tour England representing Australia in 1930.

Official photo of 1930 Australian cricket team... Image via Wikipedia

The other members of the touring party were:

Captain Bill Woodfull,Bill Ponsford,Bert Oldfield, Clarrie Grimmett,E L a’Beckett,Vic Richardson,Tim Wall,Charlie Walker,Alan Kippax,Stan McCabe, Archie Jackson,Alan Fairfax,Percy Hornbrook and Alec Hurwood.

The  players were paid £600 and signed a contract with restrictive  clauses. The sum might seem a pittance by today’s standards but in those days the sum covered three year’s living expenses for a man, his wife and three children. Not a trifling amount by any means.

The cricketers had to sign a draconian contract, of which one of the clauses indicated that none in the touring party would communicate with the Press any matters concerning the tour.

Gagging players was practised by cricket boards, even then. It sure puts into context the hullabaloo around cricketers not being allowed to tweet during World Cup games.

This clause was broken by the young Bradman—in spirit, though not in the letter of the law when he accepted payment for serializing his story to an English paper. The account summarised his early years and the preceding England tour of Australia.

Bradman was sharp—not just at the batting crease.

Businessman Arthur Whitelaw also presented Bradman with a cheque for £1,000 in appreciation of his achievement of scoring a triple century in a Test—the only instance of a batsman making 300 in a single day.

Bradman would have felt just at home in both the ODI and T20 formats.

Fame,adulation and fiscal gains enjoyed by the young cricketer on that defining tour did not endear him to his team-mates. That he was exceedingly young—just 21— and found it difficult to deal with his new-found celebrity status was not taken into consideration by either his manager or journeymen.

Don Bradman walks out to bat at the Melbourne ... Image via Wikipedia
Cardus’ initial reaction to Bradman

Neville Cardus—that great cricket writer who noted on his wife: “a great spirit and character, born for sisterhood not marriage"—witnessed Bradman for the first time against Worcester.

The music critic had this to say:

“His batsmanship might be described as thick-set: it is virile not supple, agile rather than flexible. Good honest muscle provides the motive-power”

“He is for his age a batsman of extraordinary technical scope and finish, but his style is so to say,democratic.”

Cardus did have to this to add, much later when Bradman played against an MCC XI:

“With experience he may become in time a master of the unorthodox—and all masters are that.”

Prescient indeed.

A quote every coach ought to recall, from time to time.

Don Bradman with his wife Image via Wikipedia
Hilton on Bradman

Christopher Hilton, in response to criticism that Bradman was unattractive:

“Someone said that the great sin of the second half of the Twentieth Century was inefficiency. That’s a very contentious statement, to put it mildly, but you know what he meant. The days of beauty for beauty’s sake were going; you only have to look at the car designs, the architecture, the town plans, the offices,the clothes and so on to know that.

It was so in cricket, too. ……Bradman was efficient. By the Oval Test, 1930,the world had changed and the future did belong to efficiency.”

974 in Five Tests

Bradman in five Tests:

First Test at Trent Bridge:8 and 131

First Innings bowled Tate

Second Innings bowled Robins

Second Test at Lord’s: 254 and 1

First Innings caught Chapman bowled White

Second Innings caught Chapman bowled Tate

Third Test at Leeds:334

Caught Duckworth bowled Tate

Fourth Test at Old Trafford:14

Caught Duleepsinhji bowled Peebles

Fifth Test at The Oval:232

Caught Duckworth bowled Larwood

The 1930 series brought the British Empire to its knees. It would never recover until 1954 despite the acrimonious Bodyline victory of 1932.

Quote of the day:
Human Dignity has gleamed only now and then and here and there, in lonely splendor, throughout the ages, a hope of the better men, never an achievement of the majority. – James Thurber

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I have been an IT professional with over 12 years professional experience. I'm an B.Sc. in Statistics, M.Sc in Computer Science (University of Mumbai) and an MBA from the Cyprus International Institute of Management. I'm also a finance student and have completed levels I and II of the CFA course. Blogging is a part-time vocation until I land a full-time position.

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