At A Glance:
You only have to look at Sir Donald Bradman's career statistics to immediately see that he was the best player in the history of cricket. His Test average of 99.94 is more than one and a half times more than the next man on the list, and his ratio of a hundred every 2.89 first-class innings is in a class of its own. All cricket players and enthusiasts must have an understanding of Bradman's achievements if they want to be considered seriously by other fans. It could even be argued that no other sportsperson has ever dominated their chosen field the way Bradman did -- he was that good.
After his retirement, Bradman became a renowned administrator and coach, and his legend only grew over the years.
Sir Donald Bradman, known colloquially as 'The Don', was born in 1908 in Australia. Bradman's path to batting superstardom began with a game he invented at home: hitting a golf ball repeatedly against a curved brick wall with a wooden stump. He also played tennis as a young man and displayed some talent, but when forced to choose between tennis and cricket, he chose cricket.
Bradman went on to play for New South Wales (NSW) in the 1927-1928. His class was quickly apparent, and he was selected to play for Australia barely a year later.
After ending his playing days, Bradman went on to be a national selector and cricket administrator. He also established the Bradman Foundation, a charitable trust (which is now known as the International Hall of Fame). Bradman's contribution to Australian history is bigger than sport; coming as he did at the time of the Great Depression, he served as a much-needed symbol of Australian spirit and as such gained hero status. He wasn't always comfortable with this, but he handled the adulation better than most over the course of a very public life.
Starting in 1928 against England and ending in 1948 against the same opposition, the era of Sir Donald Bradman saw him dominate Test cricket like no other player before or since.
Bradman's debut did not point to the illustrious career that would follow, as Australia suffered one of the heaviest defeats in cricket history. Despite more defeats for Australia as the series continued, Bradman established himself in the team with a series of good performances. The following year, when Australia toured England, those defeats were forgotten as Bradman batted an almost perfect series. His 254 in the second Test was, in his opinion, the finest innings he ever played, while his 334 in the third Test was then a world record.
As his career went on and stretched from one side of the Second World War to the other, Bradman kept piling up runs, steadily adding to his legend. It's important to remember that he was playing in an era of uncovered pitches, which made them much more difficult to negotiate than the often flat tracks in the modern game. With that in mind, Bradman's already mind-boggling Test average of 99.94 becomes one of the great sporting achievements.
The only time an opposition ever got on top of Bradman's talent in any significant way was during England's tour of Australia in 1932-1933. Their 'Bodyline' tactics of aiming short-pitched, bouncy deliveries at the batsman's body were controversial but effective. Still, although Bradman's average for the series was not Bradmanesque, it was a very respectable 56.57.
'The Don' was as dominant at domestic level as he was in Test matches. He scored 28,067 runs in 234 matches with 117 hundreds and a highest score of 452 not out, which was also a world record at the time.
- Test matches played: 52
- Runs scored: 6996
- Batting average: 99.94
- Hundreds: 29
- Fifties: 13
- Top score: 334
- 1908: Born in Cootamundra, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
- 1927: Makes first-class debut for NSW against South Australia, scoring a hundred.
- 1928: Makes Test debut for Australia against England.
- 1930: Sets various records en route to series victory over England, including the highest first-class score and Test score at the time.
- 1932: Marries Jessie Menzies.
- 1932-1933: Bodyline series.
- 1934: Moves to Adelaide, South Australia, so that he can pursue accounting alongside cricket.
- 1935: Becomes captain of South Australia.
- 1936: Appointed selector and then captain of Australia.
- 1939-1945: Second World War interrupts Bradman's career.
- 1946: Returns to Test cricket despite being troubled by muscular spasms.
- 1948: Captains legendary Australian team known as 'The Invincibles' on an unbeaten tour of England. Plays last Test, scoring 0 in his final innings when just four runs would have given him a test average of 100.
- 1949: Knighted for services to cricket.
- 1960-1963 / 1969-1972: Serves as Chairman of the Cricket Board for Control.
- 2001: Dies aged 92.