SIR DONALD BRADMAN
27.8.1908-25.2.2001


Durham County Cricket Club overseas patron Sir Donald Bradman died at his Adelaide home on February 25, 2001, aged 92. He was simply the greatest batsman who has ever lived, a genius and a true cricketing legend of the 20th century, and a Australian national hero.

When walking out to bat in his final Test at the Oval in 1948 "The Don" average in Tests was 101.39. He was applauded all the way to the middle and given three hearty cheers by the entire English team, only to be bowled for a second ball duck by an Eric Hollies' googily. Thus, relegating Don's Test average to 99.94, from a mere 52 matches. Surprisingly few in comparison to the plethora of Tests played these days.

In a first-class career spanning from 1927/28 to 1948/49, and curtailed by the Second World War, Don played in 234 matches, scoring 28,067 runs with a first-class average of 95.14. This contained 117 centuries, a hundred just over once every third innings !

Only 5'8'' tall, when batting he stood very still, and once set always carried the attack to the bowler, before systematically taking them apart, particularly with pulls, cuts and off-drives.

Donald George Bradman was born at Cootamundra, about 200 miles south-west of Sydney on August 27 1908. His fathers family hailed originally from the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border in England, emigrating to Australia in 1852. Don was educated at Bowral High School, and after excelling in local cricket he made his state debut v South Australia at Adelaide in 1927. Batting no 7, he hit a century, and so meteoric was his rise, that he made his Test debut in 1928, failed, but in his next Test made 79 and 112. Two years later he made his highest first-class score 452 not out v Queensland, at the age of 22. On the 1930 tour of England D G Bradman scored 974 Test runs, average 139.14 - without the benefits of not-outs, which is still a Test series record. He scored 309* on the first day of the Headingly Test of 1930, 105 in the pre-lunch session. He hit 29 Test centuries, including two treble, and ten double.
Don's nemesis was perhaps a reduced series average of 56.57 (excellent by anyone else's standards) in the famous "Bodyline" series of 1932-33. Douglas Jardine's instruction to bowl "short pitch deliveries, aimed at the body and head" to pacemen Harold Larwood and Bill Voce worked as England won the series 4-1.

The Don once took 30 in an over off that brilliant bowler "Tich" Freeman in 1934, (466464) for the Australians v An England XI at Folkstone.
Knighted for his services to cricket in 1949, he retired and became an Australian Test selector, also receiving the Companion of the Order of Australia and became the first Australian to be made a life Vice-President of the MCC. He continued to work as a stockbroker until 1954 when he announced he had been advised to retire. He reported on Australia's tours of England in 1953 and 1956 and became his country's delegate on the Imperial Cricket Conference as chairman of the Australian Cricket Board from 1960-1963 and again from 1969-1972.

Sir Bradman became overseas Patron of Durham C.C.C through his friendship with Dr Milner, father of Billy Milner who was a member of the committee when the County became first-class. Dr Milner became great friends of Bradman through his work for the Chartered Accountants Ashmore, Benson & Pease which took him overseas to Australia.

"He was the most revered figure in the game. Billy Milner wrote to him inviting him to become our Overseas Patron when we became first-class and got a lovely letter saying he'd be thrilled and honoured to accept," said former County chairman and now president Don Robson. "We periodically sent him news of our progress and though he never saw us play he never lost interest. As well as being a wonderful cricketer he was also a very fine gentleman".

A dedicated mild mannered teetotaler and non-smoker, who until the death of his wife Jessie in 1997, called regularly at the Adelaide Oval to deal with the wealth of correspondence he received daily, for things like requests for autographs from all over the world, and always duly obliged. Latterly Don avoided any limelight and became a little reclusive. He left a son and a daughter.

When asked almost twenty-years ago, how he would have faired in the modern game? Don said "I'd have averaged about 60.00" "Is that all? came the reply. "Yes well I am seventy-two" chuckled Don.


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