Monday, June 9, 2014

Bradman’s Legacy Continues To Live On

This historical feature was written for Dr. Ellen Staurowsky's SMT 608 Sports Information & Media Relations class by Maty Brennan.


I never had the honor and privilege of watching the greatest athlete the world has ever seen play the beautiful game of cricket live in person. When growing up all I heard was tales of this man, his legacy and legend was something untold, myth almost. I was fortunate enough to see photos and videos of his childhood and playing days. The man who has inspired generations, and many more generations to come with batting skills is Sir Donald George Bradman. He set many batting records, some of which still in the process became Australia’s sporting idol.

According to Bradman’s biography he was known as "The Don". Bradman was born in Cootamundra New South Wales (NSW) on August 27, 1908. He grew up in the NSW Southern Highlands town of Bowral where he first began to play cricket at the age of 11. Over time he showed remarkable skills and talent. In his first game he scored 55 runs. From 1927-28 his skills were shown on the larger scale where he rose to the top, starting with regional team St George, selected for the State team and eventually to the national team all in only a two season span.

Bradman made his test Debut for Australia on the 30 November 1928 v England and was the 124th Cap cricket player for Australia. TopEndSports explains how his career did not start as anticipated. He made 18 & 1 in his first test. As a result he was named 12th man for the 2nd match and was fortunate enough to get back into the team for the 3rd match, due to a teammate being injured. He went on to score 79 and 112 in it and become the youngest player to make a Test century. This was his beginning to a long and successful cricketing career.  From that ESPN Cricinfo reported that Bradman went on to be widely acknowledged as “the greatest batsman in the game, arguably the greatest cricketer ever, and one of the finest sportsmen of all time”.

According to ESPN Cricinfo, Bradman's career Test batting average of 99.94. His average against all countries in 52 matches and 80 innings was 99.94. In his Test career, Don Bradman scored 26% of the team’s total runs. He has scored 6996 runs with his highest score being 334 vs England at Leeds, 1930. Only eight players have surpassed his total with innings varying from 159-250 innings. Bradman’s accomplishments were cited by Will Buckley  on ‘The Guardian’ as the greatest achievement by any sportsman in any major sport. When Bradman was compared to other greats in other sports, Bradman proved to be in a league of his own out-sourcing the greats such as Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus and Pele to name a few.


TopEndSports shares a few of Bradman’s challenges through his time, in particular with his injuries. His positive mental self-talk was his driving force to help him overcome any complications or barriers that stood in his way. His father took him to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 1921 to watch a Test Match. He told his father "I shall never be satisfied until I play on this ground". The fact that his desire to achieve success was greater than anything else was what made him so successful. This act of determination is what Australian sports are all about. Giving your best and laying everything on the line for what you truly believe in and seizing that little opportunity and hope and making the most of every chance you may get.

I still remember vividly watching a video of Bradman is his last ever test innings at The Oval in England. He walked out onto the pitch and only needed for runs to have an average of over 100 runs which was only thought to be impossible in cricket. Bradman come up to the crease and was clean bowled by English spinner Eric Hollies for a duck. This was the day cricketers all around the world sank and couldn’t believe what just happened.  Even Hollies was in disbelief of what had just happened. Bradman bowled without making a run on his last ever innings for cricket.  

The Government of South Australia mentioned that Bradman’s retirement was on the 18 August 1948 v England at The Oval. After retiring, he remained within the cricketing arena by acting as an administrator, selector and writer.

According to the Bradman Foundation, Bradman was knighted for his services to cricket in 1949, and to this day remains the only Australian cricketer to receive a knighthood for services to the game. The Bradman Foundation reported that Bradman was voted the greatest male athlete of the past 200 years by the Australian Confederation of Sport in 1988.

The encyclopedia of Bible and Theology states that during a 20-year playing career, Bradman consistently scored at a level that made him, in the words of former Australia captain Bill Woodfull, "worth three batsmen to Australia". His career was limited during the time of the Second World War. Tests were suspended and he was unable to continue with his peak performance over those years. Bradman served time in the military and joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 28 June 1940 and was passed fit for air crew duty. Given the rank of Lieutenant, he was posted to the Army School of Physical Training at Frankston, Victoria, to act as a divisional supervisor of physical training. The exertion of the job aggravated his chronic muscular problems, diagnosed as fibrositis. After the war he continued to play cricket but was subjected to fibrositis again and was never really the same player. Dick Whitington wrote, "I have seen today the ghost of a once great cricketer". He managed to push through the hardship struggle and make a dramatic comeback, captaining an Australian team known as "The Invincibles" on a record-breaking unbeaten tour of England.


John Bertrand from ‘Sport Australia Hall of Fame’ announced that Bradman was the first of 120 inaugural inductees into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. This was official on 10 December 1985. As well as recognizing Australia's greatest athletes and those who have served in supporting roles to them, the Hall also presents a number of awards. The 'Don' Award, named after Sir Donald Bradman, is awarded annually to honor a current Australian athlete or athletes who, by their achievements and example over the last 12 months, are considered to have had the capacity to most inspire and capture the heart s of the nation;

Don Bradman: Challenging the Myth by Brett Hutchins shares the tragic end of the iconic Bradman.  Former and current Test cricketers, the Prime Minister, John Howard, opposition leader Kim Beazley and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke were all at the memorial. The memorial to pay tribute to Bradman’s life was held on 25 March 2001 at St Peter's Anglican Cathedral, Adelaide. The service was broadcast live on ABC Television to a viewing audience of 1.45 million.

According to ESPN Cricinfo, in 2001, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard called Bradman the "greatest living Australian". This announcement by the Leader of the nation is a true testament to how much of a role model and figure Bradman was not only for cricket but for all sport and people across the country. The ABC NEWS showed how much of an Australian icon Bradman was and his image appeared on postage stamps and coins. He also has a museum which is devoted to his life. On 19 November 2009, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Sir Donald Bradman was a man of integrity, honor and a very well respected man. His dedication and commitment to cricket was truly remarkable. He has shown to me how much one man can accomplish in his life. I personally regard him as the greatest athlete ever to walk the planet. He not only swept a nation with unbelievable scores and results, but the cricketing world as well. The talent, class, skill and legacy that this man, Sir Donald Bradman has left on me, a nation and the cricketing world will endlessly be told for many years to come.


Maty Brennan is a member of the Drexel University men’s soccer team who is pursuing a master’s degree in sport management.

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