Charles, a farmer from the county of Suffolk in southeastern England migrated to Australia in 1852. Legend has it that he was transported Down Under for stealing sheep! Three quarters of a century later, as if to make up for the treatment meted out to his 'grandpa', a young batsman named Donald George began an assault on English bowlers that gave them insomnia for well nigh twenty years. By the turn of the half-century their self-esteem had been smashed to smithereens.
Donald George Bradman's test average against England was 89.78! Jim Laker, who once took 19 wickets in a test match against Australia, confesses that the great batsman gave him an 'inferiority complex'!
Douglas Jardine, one of those who suffered sleepless nights on account of the 'run machine', invented the 'Bodyline' theory to combat the genius of Bradman during the Ashes series of 1932-33, Down Under. By the high standards he had set for himself, 'The Don' was a failure in that series, for he averaged 'only' 56.57 in four tests! Compare this to great performers like Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, Javed Miandad and others who have just managed to average around 50 runs per innings during their illustrious careers!
As a young boy, Bradman used to hit a golf ball against a brick wall in his garden with a cricket stump. Bill Bowes, the fast bowler who played for England in the 'Bodyline' series says that he once saw Bradman give a demonstration of bouncing a golf ball with a cricket stump. "He did it twenty times easily", he says. Bradman later informed him that he gets towards a century when his luck is in. "I found that other cricketers, when their luck was in, struggled to double figures," says Bowes.
By the time the 1948 tour of England came along - his last series - Bradman had become so popular that he received an average of 600 letters from his fans all over the world everyday. But one letter from a Dutch fan, with just his photograph pasted on the envelope and the words 'somewhere playing in England' which reached him, just goes to prove how well known he was. Despite all the adulation and recognition that has come his way, Bradman remained a modest man who cherished his privacy.
Notwithstanding what purists say about one-day cricket, the first limited overs international between Australia and England, in 1971, was played at the instance of Bradman, after the test match at MCG was abandoned due to rain.
Bradman was knighted in 1949, and received his country's highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia in 1981. In his last inning in test cricket, at the Oval in 1948, Eric Hollies bowled him off a googly with only four runs needed to possess a test average of 100. After that match he said to Wally Hammond, another great batsman, "If only I could have my time over again!"
Sir Donald died on 25 February 2001 at his Kensington Park residence in Adelaide, SA at 92, missing yet another coveted hundred!!