Don Bradman – The Player

‘Bradman was a player who appears not once in a lifetime but once in the lifetime of a game’ Denis Compton

By Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Sporting Legends - Bradman Museum

Captain Bradman tosses the coin (1946/1947) by Australian Women's WeeklyBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The World's Greatest Batsman


Over 60 years since retiring from Test cricket, Don Bradman still stands like a colossus over the game. With a Test batting average of 99.94 from 6996 runs, and 29 Test centuries in 80 innings, his batting success is totally comprehensive, unalienable and unrepeatable.

Mittagong v Bowral District Cricket teams (1925) by Photographer Unknown - Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The Boy From Bowral:
Formative Years

Cricket was always going to figure prominently in Don Bradman’s life. Growing up in the NSW country town of Bowral during the First World War, his maternal uncles played in the local cricket competition, as did his father, George.

His mother, Emily, also enthusiastically followed the game and regularly bowled left-handed deliveries to her son in the family backyard.

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Image shows Mittagong v Bowral cricket teams in 1926. Don Bradman (seated front row, in cap) is amongst them along with his father George (standing top right), and his uncle, Dick Whatman (seated centre, with moustache and cap).


Mittagong XIII v Bowral XIII Players L-R: J Beaumont (Mittagong), R Webb (Mittagong), J Kettel (Bowral), W Jeffrey (Mittagong), F Savell (Mittagong), B Rudge (Bowral), O Prior (Bowral), W Waine (Bowral), S Cupitt (Bowral), J Harrold (Bowral), George Bradman (Umpire). (Middle Row) S Smith (Bowral), W Neal (Mittagong), G Whatman (Bowral), R Whatman (Bowral), S Willis (Bowral), TC Welsh (Mittagong), M Harold (Bowral). (Front Row) W Smythers (Umpire), A Cook (Mitagong), J Ryder (Mittagong), Don Bradman (Bowral), W Willis (Mittagong), G Bensley (Bowral), W Gallagher, W Neal (Mittagong), D Roberts (Mittagong), J Dobson (Mittagong).

Don Bradman's Parents (1930) by FairfaxBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Parents George and Emily Bradman, photographed in the garden of their Bowral home at 20 Glebe Street. Circa 1930.

Film Reel, Bradman at Tankstand (1932) by Paulette McDonaghBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The Tank Stand

In 1932, a young Don Bradman returns to his childhood home in Bowral and demonstrated how he practiced his batting by hitting a golf ball against the base of a tank stand, using a cricket stump.

Macartney Australia's Greatest Batsman. Front page. (1921-03-02) by The Sydney MailBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

A Boy Inspired

When aged 12 George took Don to the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch the 1921 England Team play Australia. The experience had a deep impact on the boy who saw Australian batsman Charlie MaCartney score a dynamic 170 and the Australian team win convincingly against their English opposition.


He commented to his father on that day: ‘I shall never be satisfied until I have played on this Ground’.

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Image front page of The Sydney Mail, March 2, 1921. Don and his father George Bradman are in the crowd watching Charlie Macartney's famous innings of 170 on Saturday February 26.

Don Bradman, local record & first bat (1926) by Bradman Museum Collection.Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Don, aged 12 years, was too young to play in the local men’s competition but he regularly acted as scorer for the Bowral Town Cricket Club. One October week-end in 1920 he was asked to bat for the side who were a player short. In two innings, the 12 year-old made 37* and 29*. Successive years saw him become a regular player in the team. In 1926 he hit his first local century, a massive 234 runs, followed four months later by the district record score of 300. He was just 16.

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Image of Don Bradman holding his first cricket bat after breaking the district batting record, with an innings of 300, 1926.

Don Bradman's First Bat (Back) (1918) by City & Suburban Sports ManufacturersBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The Beginning: The First Bat

Don Bradman's first bat is housed at the Bradman Museum. Its features include inscriptions of his early Bowral district cricket scores, perhaps made by the young Bradman.

Gifted to him by Mr Cupitt, of the Bowral Town Cricket Club, the damaged bat was repaired by his father and served him faithfully for 5 seasons.

On receiving his first bat in 1921, Bradman later reflected,

"It was about this time that I came into possession of a real bat. And I was now the happiest boy ever. It was given to me by a Mr. Cupitt, a member of the Bowral Town team. It was man's size, but that did not matter. It was a bat with a splice, and not one chopped out of the limb of a gum tree. That bat meant almost everything in the world to me. With a saw my father cut three inches off the bottom, and rounded it off at the foot, and I went into the paddock with my prized possession. I played shots at imaginary balls till the light failed. I was happy."

Don Bradman, Sydney Morning Herald, 1930.

Careful scrutiny of the back of the bat's blade yield inscriptions of some of Bradman's best innings, including the district record of 300.

Image missing

From Town to State to Test

Sydney Grade cricket beckoned and he established himself with the St George DCC scoring a century on debut 110 v Petersham. Aged 19, he was selected for NSW in December 1927 again making a century on debut, 118 v South Australia. In November 1928 after making a century in each innings for NSW v Queensland and 132 against Victoria.

He was selected for the Australian Cricket team 1928-29 Ashes series. Dropped in the 2nd Test after failing with the bat in the 1st Test in Brisbane, he hit his first Test Century, 112 runs, in the 3rd Test. He was never dropped again. To confirm his quality he shortly thereafter broke the Sheffield Shield individual record batting score by making 340 against Victoria.

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Image shows transition of Don Bradman from district player in 1926, NSW state player 1928, and Australian Test captain on final tour to England in 1948.

Don Bradman's Sydney Cricket Ground Debut, 1928, From the collection of: Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame
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A throng of spectators on 'The Hill' witness
Bradman as 12th man and a substitute fieldsman in the second Test of his first series, held at the SCG, 1928.

Don Bradman written motto, on card, Bradman Museum Collection., 1928, From the collection of: Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame
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This personal motto inscribed in a signature book by a young Bradman in 1928 reveals his determination as a cricketer.

Don Bradman, Breaker of World's Cricket Records (1930-01-06) by Daily Telegraph Pictorial. National Library of AustraliaBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The World Record, 1930

One year later he indelibly imprinted himself into the record books' by making a world-record score of 452 'not out' for NSW against Queensland on his beloved Sydney Cricket Ground.

Bradman chaired off by Queensland players

Global media coverage of the event, alongside consistently outstanding performances by Bradman, set a course for his becoming Australia's greatest batsman.

This ensured him a place in the 1930 Australian touring team to England where he completely dominated the English bowlers with 974 Test runs comprising four centuries at an average of 139.14. Three of those innings were double-hundreds with one, 334 at Leeds, a record Test innings score.

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Front page. Daily Pictorial Telegraph. 7 January, 1930.

452 Scoresheet (1930) by Cricket NSWBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The 452 Scoresheet

Original scoresheet for New South Wales (NSW) v Queensland match shows runs as scored.

Don Bradman recounts the moment:

"Apart from achieving a performance of this kind, I am gratified that the runs were made at speed and in a manner which clearly showed that I was attacking the bowling throughout the innings, and not playing defensive cricket for selfish reasons."

Don Bradman, Adulation by crowds, Bradman in England (1938)Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The World's Greatest Batsman

Australia played a Test series against the West Indies in 1930-31 and against South Africa in 1931-32. Bradman averaged 201.5 leading into the 1932-33 home Ashes “Bodyline” Series against England, captained by Douglas Jardine. Despite the acrimonious Bodyline tactics designed to reduce Bradman’s ability to score, Bradman still averaged 56.57 for the 5 Test match series, which England won 4-1.


When Australia next travelled to England in 1934, Bradman returned to true form scoring his second triple Test century 304 at Headingley, Leeds.

Cover drive, Don Bradman by Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Bradman's famous cover drive became the symbol of his determined, powerful batting style, and is the branding of the Bradman Museum and Foundation today.

He famously said he could hit the ball wherever he wished, which he did!

Don Bradman's Captain's Cap (1936/1937) by Mark Kelly Photography. Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

A Captain's Baggy Green: The Pinnacle

In 1936-37 Bradman reached the pinnacle of Australian cricket when he was appointed captain of the national side. Pictured is the 1936-37 Baggy Green, given to him at that time. It is now housed at the Bradman Museum, donated by the legend himself.

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Test Career Overview

Tests: 52
Innings: 80
Aggregate Runs: 6,996
Batting Average: 99.94
Highest Test Score: 334
Test Centuries: 29
Not Out: 10
Catches: 32

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Image Don Bradman's 1936-37 Captain's Baggy Green cap. Bradman Museum Collection. Image by Mark Kelly.

Invincibles Team (1948) by The Sport & General Press Agency Racquet Court Fleet Street, London.Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Australia's Greatest Team and Their Captain's Last Innings

Determined to exhibit 'bright and attractive' cricket to war-weary English public, Australian Captain Bradman led a team of both experienced and precociously talented young players, who were undefeated from the 32 matches they played.

The result has never been bettered and the feat forever enshrined in the team's name 'Invincibles'. Bradman retired from Test cricket with a Test batting average of 99.94.

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Official team photo, Australian Test team 1948. 20th Australian Team to Great Britain.

Standing: Neil Harvey, Sid Barnes, Ray Lindwall, Ron Saggers, Doug Ring, Bill Johnston, Ernie Toshack, Keith Miller, Don Tallon, Sam Loxton. Seated: Keith Johnson (Team Manager), Ron Hamence, Ian Johnson, Lindsay Hassett (Vice Captain), Don Bradman (Captain), Bill Brown, Arthur Morris, Colin McCool, Bill Ferguson (Scorer).

Don Bradman Captain's blazer (1947/1948) by Sir Donald Bradman, donation. Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Sir Donald Bradman's 1947/48 Blazer
Owned and worn by Sir Donald Bradman during the 1st Test series, Australia v India 1947/48. The last Test of this series was Bradman's final Test appearance in Australia. Bradman Museum Collection.

Administrator & Test Captain: Don Bradman & Richie Benaud, Brisbane (1962) by Jim Fenwick. Holman Fairfax CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Legacy

Sir Donald Bradman was continuously involved in cricket administration for 50 consecutive years from 1936, when he became a National Selector, until 1986 when he stepped down from of the Board of South Australian Cricket Association (SACA).

He was an author, cricket journalist, and twice Chairman of the Australian Cricket Board. It is estimated he attended 1713 meetings at Adelaide Oval alone.

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Image of Australian Selector Sir Donald Bradman consulting with Australian Test Captain Richie Benaud. Brisbane, December 1962.

Portrait, Sir Donald Bradman and Richie Benaud (2015) by Dave Thomas. Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Sir Donald Bradman believed cricket to be the greatest character builder of all Australian sports, and a wonderful past-time for young people. He endorsed the Bradman Museum's work in showcasing cricket history, in the hope that the game would remain strong and relevant to future generations.

Following his death in 2001, former Australian Captain, colleague and friend, Richie Benaud OBE, succeeded Sir Roden Cutler VC as Patron of the Bradman Foundation, to ensure the legacy thrived. After Richie Benaud's death in 2015, the Hon. John Howard OM AC became Patron.

Don Bradman - Best Single Performance by a Male Athlete (1988) by Mark Kelly Photography. Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Reflecting on a Brilliant Career

Celebrated as Australia's greatest batsman, and international cricketer of all time, Don Bradman was awarded this trophy in 1988, as part of the bicentennial celebrations, retrospectively recognising his 309 runs in a single day's play at Headingley England, in July 1930.


The female recipient of this award was Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser for her three consecutive 100m Olympic Gold medals.

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This trophy housed at Bradman Museum. Donation Sir Donald Bradman. Image by Mark Kelly.

Don Bradman, the last innings (1949) by Ronald BergBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

A letter from Lord Harris to The Times February 2,1931, read by Sir Donald Bradman at the conclusion of his last public interview.

‘You would do well to love it because it is more free from anything sordid, anything dishonourable than any game in the world. To play it keenly, honourably, generously, self-sacrificingly is a moral lesson in itself and the classroom is God’s air and sunshine. Foster it my brothers, so that it may attract all who can find the time to play it; protect it from anything that would sully it, so that it may be in favour with all men.’


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Don Bradman walks off the cricket field for the last time in First Class cricket, after scoring 53 for South Australia v NSW on February 26, 1949, Sydney Cricket Ground. Photograph by Ron Berg, Adelaide Advertiser.

Remembering Bradman

The Bradman Museum celebrates the cricketing achievements and the life of Sir Donald Bradman through a dedicated Bradman Gallery.

Showcases at the museum include donations by Sir Donald Bradman. Original match used objects include blazers, caps, bats, trophies, rare photographs, interactive histories, his personal letters and typed notes, rare documents, videos and portraits of national significance. These are but some of the objects in this substantial collection.

Situated at the locale of Bradman Oval, where he first learned to play cricket, it is where Sir Donald and Lady Jessie Bradman's ashes were scattered in 2001.

The museum is a place to remember 'The Don', and reflect upon the spirit of the game. It is a place like no other in Australian cricket history.


‘Inevitably the face of cricket changes with the passage of time. The game must adapt to the social era in which people live. Nobody, fifty years ago, could have foreshadowed night cricket, coloured clothing, white balls and so on, but I do not resile from such happenings providing we are able we are able to preserve the underlying character-building edifice upon which the game was founded. This responsibility must be shouldered with care and foresight by contemporary players and administrators because they are now the custodians of a valued trust for future generations.’ Sir Donald Bradman, 1987.


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Take a self-guided tour of the Bradman Gallery by scrolling on the screen.

Credits: Story

Author: David Wells, Rina Hore. Bradman Museum.

Art Direction: Monica Donoso, Bradman Museum.

© Bradman Museum 2019

Objects:
First Bat: Donation Cricketers Club of NSW. Bradman Museum Collection. BM 1996.090
Sir Donald Bradman, Richie Benaud portrait, Dave Thomas, 2015. Bradman Museum Collection.
Don Bradman Quote card: Sourced Mark Gilbert. Bradman Museum Collection. BM 2008.145
452 Scoresheet, courtesy Cricket NSW.
Don Bradman Baggy Green. Donation Sir Donald Bradman. Bradman Museum Collection.
Don Bradman 1947/48 Blazer. Donation Sir Donald Bradman. Bradman Museum Collection. BM 1989.063
Trophy, Best Male Athlete 1788-1988. Donation Sir Donald Bradman. Bradman Museum Collection. BM 1989.072
Film Reel 1932. Bradman at tankstand. Bradman Museum Collection
Sydney Mail, 2 March 1921. Bradman Museum Collection
Don Bradman and bat 1926. Bradman Museum Collection
Bradman's 'Last Innings'. Ron Berg, Adelaide Advertiser. Bradman Museum Collection
Benaud/Bradman 1962. Jim Fenwick. Holman Fairfax Collection, Bradman Museum
Mittagong v Bowral District teams portrait 1926. Bradman Museum Collection
George and Emily Bradman portrait 1930. Bradman Museum Collection
Don Bradman SCG Debut 1928 photograph. Bradman Museum Collection
Don Bradman in England photograph, 1934. Bradman Museum Collection
Invincibles team portrait 1948. Sport & General Press Agency. Bradman Museum Collection

Images:
The First Bat. Photography Google 2018.
Don Bradman Baggy Green, Captain's blazer and Trophy, Best Male Athlete 1788-1988. Photography Mark Kelly
Don Bradman coverdrive series, montage. Bradman Museum.
Daily Pictorial Telegraph January 7 1930. Courtesy National Library of Australia
Captain Bradman tosses coin 1946/47. Courtesy Australian Women's Weekly.

Videos:
Don Bradman :: Career Overview: Production Lightwell. BradMan Museum Collection
Tribute to Sir Donald Bradman. Courtesy Cricket Australia

Bradman Gallery StreetView by Google, 2018.

Archive footage authorised for use by Bradman Museum for non-commercial gain.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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