He was the greatest ever. It remains as simple as that.
Sir Donald George Bradman was born on August 27, 1908 in Cootamundra in Australia. Over a career which spanned two decades and has been the subject of countless books and discourses, he firmly established himself as the greatest batsman of all time. The "Don" played his last Test match in 1948 and died in 2001 at the age of 91. Yet the proof of his legacy lies in the fact that whenever any discussion on cricketing greatness comes up, the Don's name is always first on the list.
His 108th birth anniversary provides a great opportunity to go back and see the maestro in action in the grainy black-and-white footage that survives. One of the earliest clips of Bradman comes from a 1932 documentary titled, How I Play Cricket, recently released by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. The clip shows how Bradman perfected his genius through many hours of relentless practice.
There is another video from 1930 where Bradman demonstrated his variety of strokes after a short interview where he talked about "wanting to score as many runs as possible".
British Pathe has a veritable treasure trove of footage featuring the Don. In 1934, Bradman scored 206 against Worcester and footage from that innings shows the dazzling and aggressive nature of his strokeplay, which was unique at that time.
Interestingly, the infamous "Bodyline" strategy used by England to win the 1932-'32 Ashes was conceptualised by England's captain Douglas Jardine as a means to stop Bradman. In that context, this video of the third Test in that famous series is particularly insightful. In the footage, Bradman ducks to a particularly fast delivery from Harold Larwood and is then dismissed cheaply.
Bradman finally bid goodbye to international cricket after the "Invincibles" tour of England in 1948. He gave a farewell speech at a function in the Savoy Hotel in London.
Yet, the Don's aura never faded. He continued to remain one of cricket's most influential voices. In an interview in 2000, he gave his observation on India's Sachin Tendulkar, famously remarking that he saw a bit of himself in the Indian great's batting style.
Bradman passed away at the age of 92 in 2001. But he remains Australia's and cricket's favourite son. Cricket matches and batting may have changed dramatically since his time, but the art of classic batsmanship remains as evergreen as ever. And while cricket exists, Don Bradman will forever reign supreme.
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