Cricket may have gods and demigods, but when it comes to talking about The Don, there was and there is just one - Sir Donald Bradman. On his 103rd birth anniversary, we take a quick look at his illustrious career that still defines greatness.
Born on August 27, 1908, Bradman's rise to the pinnacle of cricket remains a fairytale for most budding cricketers. Playing for 20 years, Bradman was what former captain Bill Woodfull said "worth three batsmen to Australia".
Having played 52 Tests, Bradman scored 6996 runs at an astonishing average of 99.94. He could well have had it 100. In his last Test against England in 1948, Sir Don was out for a duck.
In his early years, Bradman invented his own solo game using a stump and wicket. He practised very hard but his first breakthrough was as dramatic as it's supposed to be in great stories. In 1920-21, he was the scorer for the local Bowral team. He was roped in as the team was one man short. He made unbeaten 37 and 29 runs.
He kept scoring heavily before he was picked for the Australian side in 1928. A season before that he made his first-class debut at an age of 19 and scored a century.
But it wasn't a cakewalk for him straightaway. What could have been his tenth Test match, following his poor form, Bradman was demoted as the twelfth man of the side. This was the second Test of the series against England. He was called back in the playing XI in the third Test. He made 79 and 112 runs.
In his career, Bradman scored 29 centuries and 13 half-centuries. But it was not just cricket that occupied Bradman. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1940. He was later moved to the Army. He was given the rank of Lieutenant and was posted to the Army School of Physical Training at Frankston, Victoria to act as a divisional supervisor of physical training. There he aggravated his chronic muscular problems. That marked his downfall.
Talking about his family life, Sir Don Bradman got married to Jessie Martha Menzies in 1932, who he first met in 1920. He credited his achievements to his wife. They had three children. Their first-born son died as an infant in 1936, their second son, John (born in 1939) contracted polio, and their daughter, Shirley, born in 1941, had cerebral palsy since her birth. John Bradman changed his last name to Bradsen in 1972 since he found it hard to live up to the surname. He later agreed to get back to his original surname.
On his 90th birthday i.e. August 27, 1998, Sir Don met a player who he said reminded him of his own playing style. Sachin Tendulkar met Sir Don at his Adelaide residence. That remains one of the best moments of a cricket fan's life.
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