The Don


Find out all you want to know about the great Sir Donald Bradman. Read about the Don’s life and important moments such as:

Bradman and the watertank

The Tank Stand

Don Bradman was born in Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia, on 27 August 1908, but spent his early years in the NSW town of Bowral. At his Shepherd Street home he developed a solitary game where he would repeatedly hit a golf ball with a cricket stump against the curved brick base of the family water tank. Using the house wall as one boundary on his off-side he managed to construct ‘Test’ matches in his head where he as the batsman would pit himself against the unpredictable balls ‘delivered’ by the tank stand.

Don Bradman wrote, “The small bat made this no easy matter; as the ball came back at great speed and, of course, at widely different angles. I found I had to be pretty quick on my feet and keep my wits about me, and in this way I developed, unconsciously, perhaps, sense of distance and pace”.

Don Bradman Sporting Legend

The start of a legend
1927 -1930

In 1927, aged 19, Don travelled to Adelaide for his first-class debut for NSW against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield, scoring 118 runs. Now known as ‘The Boy from Bowral’, he became the 20th Australian to score a century in his first-class debut.

By the following year, he was selected to play Test cricket for Australia and at that first Test match in Brisbane, the Queenslanders were delighted to see ‘the baby’ of the Australian team bat. Unfortunately the team lost the first Test and a difficult batting wicket meant Don was left out of the second test. However he made it back into the Third Test in Melbourne, where he played brilliantly, becoming the youngest player to score a Test century with 112 in the second innings.

Sheffield Shield ~ Bradman’s Highest Score

Don Bradman reached the scoring peak of his career in a Sheffield Shield match between NSW and QLD at the SCG in January 1930, breaking the world’s batting record for the highest score in first-class cricket with 452 not out in just 415 minutes – just under a run a minute. The previous record of 437 was held by Bill Ponsford and took 621 minutes to reach. He also notched up one thousand runs for the season.

Don was now called the ‘run-making machine’ and was carried from the field by some of the Queensland players.

Sir Donald Bradman batting pose

The 1930s England Tour –
Bradman’s debut overseas

In his first overseas tour to England with the Australian team, Bradman made a double-century in the first match at Worcester. The giant world record score of 334 made during the Third Test at Headingly proved beyond doubt that here was an exceptional Test player.

Writing in the Bradman Albums he said:
“To break the world’s record Test score was exciting. To do so against Australia’s oldest and strongest rival was satisfying. More than anything else, however, was the knowledge that I had scored the runs at such a fast rate and therefore provided entertainment for the spectators.”

By the end of the tour, he had played 36 innings, scored six double-centuries, 10 centuries and 15 half-centuries and amassed a total of 2,960 runs. His tour batting average was 98.66.

His greatest partnership

On the 30 April 1932 Don Bradman married Jessie Menzies. The two had met at Bowral Public School. Sir Donald would later describe their union as the greatest partnership of his life. Their marriage remained a strong union until Lady Jessie Bradman died in September 1997 after a battle with cancer.

A Test Captain

Sir Donald Bradman and Lady Jesse

Don and Jessie Bradman moved to Adelaide from Sydney in 1934 for business reasons. In 1935 Don was appointed captain of the South Australian team and a State selector. In December 1935 he scored 117 in his first Sheffield Shield match for South Australia, ironically against his former team, New South Wales.

Bradman was appointed an Australian Test selector in 1936 upon the death of Dr Dolling, a previous selector. In the same year he was also appointed for the first time Australian Test cricket captain against the visiting England Team.

The Second World War, 1939-1945, intervened in Bradman’s playing career. Post-war Test cricket resumed in 1946 when England toured Australia.

Post-War Revival

Don Bradman at war

Bradman was elected to the Australian Board of Control in August 1945. He had not played cricket for five years and did not expect to play for Australia again because of severe muscular spasms from which he regularly suffered. He did however accept the Australian captaincy in 1946 against Wally Hammond’s English team in an effort to help a post-war recovery.

In 1947-48 India came to Australia for the first Test series between the two countries. While playing for an Australian XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground Bradman scored 172, his 100th first class century. Australia won the series 4-0 with Bradman’s batting average 178.75.

The Invincibles

In March 1948, the Australian Test team, captained by Bradman, sailed for England. Their tour ended eight months later when the Australian team, having not lost a single match, were dubbed The Invincibles – the greatest Australian side in history. They remain the only side not to have lost a match while on tour.

Out for a duck

Bradman’s last Test match was against England (5th Test) in 1948 at The Oval in England.

Bradman came out to the crease amidst a thunderous ovation, which lasted several minutes. He was bowled a ‘googly’ by Eric Hollies on his second ball, misjudged the ball and was out for a duck. Hollies was to write later, “I don’t think Don saw it properly. He seemed to have tears in his eyes”.

Bradman missed a Test total of 7000 runs by just 4 runs; it would have given him a Test career average of 100, instead of 99.94.

Bradman wrote in Farewell to Cricket, 1950, “I dearly wanted to do so well. It was not to be. That reception had stirred my emotions very deeply and made me anxious – a dangerous state of mind for any batsman to be in. I played the first ball from Hollies, though not sure I really saw it. The second was a perfect length googly which deceived me”.

Keith Miller was in the dressing room when Bradman returned from the crease, and according to Miller, when Bradman was unbuckling his pads, he simply said “Gee whiz, fancy doing that!”

Bradman’s Testimonial

Don Bradman on Time Magazine cover

In early December 1948 over 94,000 people flooded to the MCG to watch Bradman in his testimonial game. The match finished with the scores level after Don Tallon added 91 in the last hour with nine wickets down. Bradman scored 123 in the first innings.

Bradman was knighted in March 1949. He became the only Australian cricketer ever to be knighted.

He remarked on receiving the Award: “This was an honour that I never sought or dreamt about. If there had been nobody else to please but myself I would have preferred to remain just plain mister. But it was an honour for the game of cricket and in that context I accepted the responsibility of the title conferred by knighthood.”

Sir Donald Bradman passed away in Adelaide in 2001. The then Prime Minister John Howard remarked: “In many ways he was the most remarkable figure that Australia has produced in the last 100 years. He had an impact on our country that is difficult to properly measure”.

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