One would have imagined that more cricketers would have attempted to copy Sir Donald Bradman’s technique. After all, the Australian retired with an average of 99.94 – a figure that no batsman has even come close to in Test cricket.
Some greats have put up those sorts of numbers for a series or even a season but over the course of the career, the game has always found a way to even things out. If anything, that should have been even more of a reason to unlock the secrets of Bradman’s technique.
When he was once asked why others didn’t play like him, Bradman had replied: “I think it’s because they are coached not to do it. It’s a different technique.”
It was different indeed. He had developed his technique and his reactions by playing imaginary ‘Test Matches’. He pracitsed with a golf ball and stump in a tiny space Through practice, he found a technique that was solely his. Exemplary, in many ways.
In a letter, he had broken it down even more: “In general I think many coaches stifle the natural abilities of young players by rigidly insisting that they do not move until the ball is delivered and that they adhere to a perpendicular bat with left hand control. Movie strips of me batting indicate that I started my backlift before the ball was delivered and that the bottom of my bat was approximately level with the tops of the stumps at the instant of delivery. But let me hasten to say my backlift was rather towards second slip - not point as some suggest”.
The orthodox stance, Bradman felt, was a limiter as well.
“It is regarded as more orthodox to teach a pupil to rest his bat just behind the right toe,” said Bradman.
“This position encourages a straighter backlift, is perhaps sounder for defensive play, but I feel it has greater limitations in versatile strokemaking.”
Indeed, the one lesson that Bradman taught us is that batsman and even bowlers should only focus on finding a method that works for them.
All the other rules don’t really matter; rather they don’t even exist.
Bradman’s unorthodox (if one could call it that) batting style made it difficult for bowlers to make regular plans for him. They had to come up with ‘Bodyline’ to even limit his run-scoring and even the long break due to the Second World War didn’t break him or his technique.
Did he think differently? Did he approach shot-making differently? What was his mindset? What were his pointers?
He has spoken and written about them at various times.
But while it is one thing to read what Bradman had to say about batting, it is quite another to actually have him show us.
In the video below from his last tour of England in 1948, he breaks down all the shots in the game and patiently explains the things that players need to be wary of.
This is a fascinating watch. The game’s greatest ever batsman breaking it down, just for you.
Watch Don Bradman’s masterclass below:
Additional viewing: More Sir Don Bradman footage here...