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The moment of unlikely triumph that secured Don Bradman’s astonishing legacy | Jack Snape
Cricket Sport

The moment of unlikely triumph that secured Don Bradman’s astonishing legacy | Jack Snape


The most famous moment in the career of the greatest cricketer in Australia was a remarkable defeat. Don Bradman’s last innings resulted in a score of zero in the fifth Ashes Test in 1948 at the Oval, but it ultimately had little impact on the overall match. His team still won by an impressive margin of 149 runs, securing a 4-0 series win.

Although considered a failure, it is this very flaw that solidifies the legend of Bradman. This display of human imperfection adds credibility to his seemingly unattainable accomplishments, even nearly 100 years later. Despite retiring with an impressive average of 100, there was still a slight discrepancy due to rounding. In total, he scored 6,996 runs in Test matches, just four shy of reaching an even greater milestone.

The moment when Bradman was dismissed is just as memorable as his impressive career average of 99.94. English bowler Eric Hollies takes the ball and delivers a sharp cut, but Bradman misses and the bails fall to the ground. Without hesitation, the Australian captain turns and walks away, looking up at the sky with a seemingly content smile.

The importance of these seconds has increased. A memorable anomaly in the exceptional consistency of the standard-bearer. The game occurred a week following the birth of Greg Chappell. Despite the passing of time and new generations, Bradman’s record still stands apart, serving as a driving force for Australia’s culture of achievement. And the addition of an exclamation point and reminder of mortality only adds to its impressiveness.

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However, there was a pivotal moment in Bradman’s journey that held even more significance. This moment was praised by those who saw it firsthand, rather than those who observed it in the following years. It occurred when there was still something to be gained and much at stake.

Prior to becoming a legendary figure, the young boy from Bowral had a brief period of being mortal. In the mid-1930s, he faced challenges due to Bodyline tactics. As a result, he went through a 13-game streak without scoring a century, which was the longest of his career. However, he bounced back during the 1934 Ashes series. Unfortunately, he then developed complications from appendicitis and was unable to participate in Australia’s tour of South Africa in 1935-36.

The Chappell brothers’ grandfather, Vic Richardson, led the Australian team to success with a 4-0 win in the Test series. However, Bradman was chosen as a selector and captain for the first time during England’s Ashes tour in the 1936-37 season.

Don Bradman in action at Lord’s in 1930View image in fullscreen

The machinations mired the man in the politics of the time. A contentious decision by Bradman and his fellow selectors to drop veteran bowler Clarrie Grimmett and hand four players debuts was, therefore, a gamble. And when the first two Tests led to successive defeats, reports of “dissension” filled the newspapers. Dissent, against the Don!

In the third Test, there was a complete match at the MCG where Bradman was dismissed for 13 runs in the first inning. Rain arrived towards the end of the first day and when play resumed, there were a large number of wickets taken: 15 for only 130 runs resulting in two innings being completed. The captain of the Australian team strategically placed lower-order batsmen at the top of the lineup to safeguard his main batsmen, including himself.

The game was at a critical point with a lead of 221 but only five wickets remaining. As the pitch became more challenging but also better, Bradman eventually made an appearance. The crowd of 88,000, which was part of the record-breaking Test attendance of 350,000, anxiously awaited the captain’s performance. By the end of the day, Bradman and Jack Fingleton had scored 97 runs together. The Sydney Daily Telegraph described it as a “great partnership”, while an English newspaper declared “Australia in the lead”.

He successfully hit the ball with his bat for more than 100 runs in a single inning, and continued to score even after 200 runs. It took him 458 minutes to reach a total of 270 runs from 375 deliveries, including 22 boundaries. This was his fourth-highest score and the last time he scored above 250 in a Test match, which was crucial for his team at the time.

After a full day, the tide had completely risen. A journalist wrote, “We were starting to doubt if Bradman was still in tune with the game.” They added, “He has regained his status as a skilled batsman and, more importantly, revived Australian cricket.” The Daily Telegraph hailed him as “the ultimate batsman”, “the originator of a revolutionary style” and in “unbelievable form on a global scale”. In 2001, Wisden declared this innings as the greatest in the history of cricket.

Reworded: Bradman’s impressive scoring helped secure Australia’s victory in Melbourne, with his team ultimately winning the final two tests to retain the Ashes. To this day, no other cricket team, including England during the “Bazball” era, has managed to make a similar comeback. Despite being interrupted by the second world war, Bradman continued to have a successful career for another 10 years.

His final innings duck is today’s entry point to the Don’s mythology. The sentimental send-off and statistical near-miss is the dessert in the DGB degustation. But on to the MCG in early January 1937, from the heat of cricket’s most searing kitchen, Bradman’s main was served. Not just well done. Not just rare.

Finally, Bradman returns to his throne, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Source: theguardian.com