• Short Summary

    Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman in test
    history and Australia's most revered sporting figure, has died
    in Adelaide, aged 92, the Australian Cricket Board announced
    on Monday.

  • Description

    Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman in test
    history and Australia's most revered sporting figure, has died
    in Adelaide, aged 92, the Australian Cricket Board announced
    on Monday.

    The Director of the Bradman Foundation, Richard Mulvaney,
    told the Australian Bradcasting Corporation the cricketing
    great died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday.

    Sir Donald Bradman, the most prolific batsman in the
    history of test cricket, was idolised by generations of
    Australians as the greatest sportsman in the country's

    Revered for his exploits at the crease either side of
    World War Two, the increasingly reclusive Bradman surrendered
    his wicket as grudgingly as he would embrace public adulation
    later in life.

    The country boy from Australia's bush, regarded by many of
    his sports-mad compatriots as a living icon, rewrote the
    record books during a first-class career that spanned 21 years
    and inspired a growing nation.

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard once described him
    as a national treasure.

    "Sir Donald Bradman is more than the greatest sportsman or
    woman that Australia has produced....he was the first great
    celebrity that Australia had," Howard said.

    "He was loved and revered and respected as well as being
    feared and admired throughout the cricketing world."
    Statistically, no other batsman, before or since, has
    threatened to equal Bradman's domination of opposing bowling

    His image as a player -- his wiry frame, confident swagger
    to the wicket and baggy green cap -- came to symbolise
    Australian sport during the 1930s and 1940s.

    Nicknamed "The Don", Bradman compiled runs -- 6,996 in 52
    tests, at an average of 99.94 -- with an unerring and
    relentless precision that has remained unequalled.

    Only a stunning failure in his last test innings before
    retirement at The Oval in 1948, denied Bradman a magical test
    average of 100.

    Needing to score only four runs to achieve the landmark
    figure, Bradman was dismissed for a duck -- much to the
    disbelief of the huge crowd who had flocked to the London
    ground to farewell him.

    Universally admired and celebrated for his feats, Bradman
    earned the unfailing respect of his fellow Australians, who,
    as a nation, laud sportsmen and women above all public

    His timely emergence in the early 1930s during the grim
    days of the Depression, when one third of Australians were out
    of work, lifted the morale of the entire country.

    But despite their obvious respect and admiration, the
    public's genuine affection proved more elusive, with many of
    his compatriots and cricketing contemporaries viewing Bradman
    as aloof and single-minded.

    In all, Bradman played 338 first-class innings, scoring
    28,067 runs at an average of 95.14. Statistically, his
    achievements have never been threatened, let alone equalled.

    Bradman's achievements would have been even more daunting
    but for an enforced break in his career when he served in the
    Royal Australian Air Force and army during the Second World

    In later years, Bradman shunned publicity, making only
    occasional public appearances and agreeing to even fewer media
    interviews. If anything, his reclusive lifestyle merely added
    to his mystic appeal in Australia.

    However, Bradman made an exception in 1988 when he
    recorded a series of interviews charting his life with the
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation to mark the nation's

    In 1996, after rejecting a succession of lucrative offers,
    Bradman agreed to an interview with Australia's Channel Nine
    network, owned by billionaire Kerry Packer.

    But his motive was not profit.

    The publicity-shy Bradman only agreed on the understanding
    that Packer would make a donation, believed to be A$1.0
    million, to complete construction of the Bradman Museum in his
    home town of Bowral in rural New South Wales.

    Asked during the interview to explain why his records have
    remaining unchallenged, The Don struggled for an answer,
    saying: "I saw much better batsmen than I was. Lots of
    them...they just kept getting out".

    During another interview, Bradman, who was knighted in
    1949, talked about a game he invented as a boy which,
    unbeknown to him at the time, helped develop his phenomenal
    reflexes and timing.

    For hours after school each night, the young Don would
    practice his batting, using a cricket stump, golf ball, and a
    rusty water tank.

    "I threw the golf ball at the tank with one hand, while
    holding the stump with the other hand, and as the ball
    rebounded I gripped the stump in two hands and tried to play a
    shot," explained Bradman.

    "At the time I had not the slightest idea this would build
    my reflexes. I was only trying to amuse myself."
    Those lightning reflexes, which Bradman believed were
    enhanced by his insistence on using a lighter bat than the
    norm, were put to the severest test during the infamous
    "Bodyline" series against England in 1932-33.

    Three years earlier during Australia's victorious Ashes
    tour to England, Bradman had humbled the English bowling
    attack, scoring a then test world record score of 334 at
    Headingley in Leeds.

    England captain, Douglas Jardine, desperate to win back
    the Ashes on Australian soil, devised an intimidating form of
    bowling to curb Bradman. England's fast bowlers, led by the
    fiery Harold Larwood, aimed short-pitch legside deliveries at
    the batsman's body rather than the wicket.

    The tactic, branded unsportsmanlike by Australians,
    strained relations between the two countries. But it worked,
    shaking Bradman's dominance for the first and only time.

    England, who comfortably won the series 4-1, restricted
    Bradman to a batting average of 56.57 for the series -- a
    highly respectable performance in itself but mediocre by his
    own lofty standards.

    In 1934, Bradman exacted revenge by amassing over 2,000
    runs in England, including 304 in a test at Headingley. Two
    years later, he took over as Australian captain, leading the
    country for 12 years until his retirement.

    Born in Cootamundra in rural New South Wales on August 27,
    1908, Bradman moved as a child to Bowral, 80 km (50 miles)
    southwest of Sydney.

    Although he lived with his wife Jessie in Adelaide for
    most of his adult life, Bradman has always been associated
    with Bowral.

    It was here that the couple met in childhood before
    joining in a marriage that lasted 65 years until Jessie died
    of cancer, aged 88, in September 1997.

    The town honoured their favourite adopted son in 1989 by
    opening a museum to commemorate his achievements, including
    scoring over 300 runs on six occasions and hitting hundreds in
    six successive innings.

    He also scored a then world record 452 not out for New
    South Wales against Queensland in 1929, one of 127 first class
    centuries -- another Australian record.

    After retiring, Bradman became an Australian selector and
    remained active behind the scenes until 1986 when he severed
    all official links with the game.

    Following the proliferation of test cricket over the past
    20 years, several players have surpassed Bradman's test
    aggregate score. But no-one has threatened his status as
    cricket's greatest ever batsman.

    Bradman's achievements have only grown in time.

    Former Australian captain Mark Taylor equalled Bradman's
    Australian test record of 334 against Pakistan in 1998, but
    declined the opportunity to pass him, declaring his innings
    closed because he didn't want to pass the Don's record out of
    respect to him.

    When former Australian captain Allan Border became the
    highest test scorer in history in February, 1993 with 10,161
    runs from 139 tests, he put his achievement in perspective by
    saying: "Goodness knows how many runs Sir Don would have got
    in that many tests".

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