Biographical essay by Michael Page

This 10 page essay was adapted by Des Fregon and published as The Don: a photographic essay of a legendary life (South Melbourne: Sun Books 1984), and is reprinted here with kind permission of the publisher Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd and the author Michael Page. A copy of a reasonable portion of this essay may be made for private use, but further publication requires the permission of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd and the Library.

The full length biography by Michael Page from which this essay was adapted has also been produced on cassette tape and in braille. It was re-issued without the illustrations as Bradman, the biography in 1988.

South Australian author Michael Page has written many books on the development of Australia and South Australia, and histories of some Australian institutions - Adelaide Steamship Company, Royal Flying Doctor Service and South Australian fire services. To show his versatility he has also written eight novels, as well as books on architecture, fantasy and dogs.

The Bowral wonder - to age 18 in 1926

A cricketer's honeymoon - 1932

A modest hero - first appearance on the SCG in 1926

The bodyline attack - 1932

The first Tests - 1928

Triumph and disaster - 1933-35

"The run-making machine" - 1929-30

Captain of Australia - 1935-36

Impact on England - 1930

A casualty of cricket - 1937-39

First Tests in England - 1930

The 100th century - 1939-48

Fame and a 50 fine - 1930

The final Test - 1948

Accrington and South Africans - 1931

Knighthood and beyond - 1949-79

The Bowral wonder

Donald George Bradman was born in Cootamundra on 27 August 1908, the youngest of the five children of George and Emily Bradman of Yeo Yeo, a small farming community near Cootamundra in New South Wales.

Early in 1911, the family moved into a small weatherboard house in Shepherd Street, Bowral, 132 kilometres south of Sydney. George Bradman worked as a carpenter in the local joinery and young Donald's brother Victor and sisters Islet, Lilian and Elizabeth May attended local schools. By the time World War One had erupted, Donald was more occupied with school, choir practice and learning the piano than with international events.

But there was no organised sport for a six-year-old and he had to content himself with watching schoolyard cricket through a gate in a fence that divided the Bowral primary and high schools. At home, he invented his own one-man cricket game using a stump and a golf ball. A water tank stood on a brick stand behind the Bradman home on a covered and paved area. The ball rebounded from the curved brick stand at high speed and varying angles and he soon developed split-second speed and accuracy.

His first innings on a matting wicket was for Bowral High School when he was 12. Against Mittagong, he made his first century, 115 not out in a total of 156. This led to his Uncle George inviting him to act as scorer for Bowral in the 1920?21 season. One Saturday, the team was one man short and Donald went in ninth wicket against Moss Vale. Wielding a full size bat, he made 37 not out and returned the following Saturday to make an unbeaten 27.

Donald Bradman first saw the Sydney Cricket ground when he went to see the fifth Test in 1921 with his father. Meanwhile, he had become proficient at tennis, played rugby for the school side and won the 100, 220, 440 and 880-yard races at his school sports.

In 1922, he passed Intermediate level at school and went to work in the local real estate office of Mr Percy Westbrook. He was playing more tennis than cricket and also helped his father build the brick house opposite Glebe Park that the family moved into in 1924. In two cricket seasons between 1923 and 1925, he played only two games with Bowral Town Club, but at 17 he became a regular player.

In a match against Wingello in the Berrima District competition, he faced the bowler Bill O'Reilly who was to play with Bradman in Test matches. The young batsman made 234 in 165 minutes, a record he was to break with a score of 300 against Moss Vale.

He made 1318 runs that season in 23 innings at an average of 94.14 and was invited on 5 October 1926, to practice with the State squad in Sydney. Trial match performances led to him being invited to play in a Country Cricket Week competition. He was also selected for a Country Tennis Week, but his employer told him he could have only one week off and he chose cricket.

A modest hero

On 22 November 1926, Bradman made his first appearance on the SCG, as a member of the Southern team against Riverina. He made 43 before he was dismissed by rugby star Eric Weissel.

After Country Week, he joined Sydney's St George club, travelling each weekend from Bowral. In his first game, he made his first century on turf. The following Monday, he made 98 for the Country side against a City XI.

Bradman played his first innings for New South Wales in a second eleven against Victoria in Sydney in a game that opened on 1 January 1927. He made 43 and eight.

In December, he was selected in the team to tour the southern States and made his Sheffield Shield debut against South Australia on the Adelaide Oval. Against the bowling of Test spinner Clarrie Grimmett, he survived the first day and went on to become the twentieth Australian to score a century in his first Shield match.

In the final match of the season, against Victoria in Sydney, he made his first century on the SCG, 134 in 225 minutes.

The first Tests

In September 1928, Bradman moved to Sydney where he became secretary in a real estate office opened there by his Bowral employer.

The Englishmen were to arrive in October and the 20-year-old prepared himself to play against the likes of Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Jardine, Larwood, Hammond and Leyland. Centuries in each innings of a match against Queensland clinched his place in the Test team and he made 87 and 132 in two innings against the MCC before the first Test in Brisbane on 27 November.

In that first Test, he made 18 in his first innings and failed again when he played on a sticky wicket for the first time in his life in the second. Australia lost and the young batsman was made 12th man for the second Test.

In a NSW-Victoria game in Melbourne that started on 22 December, he crashed an unbeaten 71 in 103 minutes and was recalled for the Melbourne Test. He made a resolute 79 in the first innings and then became, at 20 years and four months, the youngest player to score a Test century. He split his bat with the blow that brought him his hundred and continued with a heavier replacement until he was out for 112. England won the match and retained the Ashes.

Before a Shield game in Sydney against Victoria, Bradman was approached by a cricket equipment manufacturer, William Sykes Ltd., and asked for permission to use his name on Sykes bats. He sealed the deal by strolling to the wicket with a brand new, unprepared bat and made 340 not out in 488 minutes.

In the fourth Test he made 40 and 58 and it was during this game that he received another business proposition. The job offer was opportune as Australia was in the grip of the Great Depression and Bradman was anxious to secure his future. He accepted an offer from Oscar Lawson, public relations manager with Mick Simmons Ltd., sporting goods distributors.

"The run-making machine"

In the winter of 1929, Don Bradman was familiarising himself with his new employer's territory and when he was in Sydney, he was a frequent visitor at the Menzies home in Burwood. The Menzies were old family friends, and before moving to Sydney, one of the Menzies girls, Jessie, had stayed with the Bradmans while she attended school in Bowral.

The 1929-30 season opened with a tour of country centres before the first Shield game in Sydney against Queensland. He made 48 and 66 and NSW won the game.

In a game against a touring MCC team en route to New Zealand, he brought up his hundred in 103 minutes and went on to score 157. Ten days later, 6 December, he was back on the SCG in a Test selection trial match. He made 124 in the first innings, but awed those watching with a blistering 225 in the second.

On 3 January 1930, Bradman faced Queensland in Sydney for a first innings three. But in the second, the records flowed from his bat. His first 50 took 51 minutes, his hundred 104. By the close of play he was 205 after 195 minutes. After the rest day on Sunday, he resumed his innings determined to break Victorian Bill Ponsford's world record of 437. The 300 came up in 288 minutes and the fourth after 377. He was stopped when Alan Kippax declared. Bradman had reached 452.

Impact on England

By 1930, Bradman was regarded as public property and found himself having to endure a daily battery of headlines and inquiries and the inevitable counter-current of gossip and rumour. In public, he was mobbed by autograph hunters and followed by groups of small boys.

He and Jessie Menzies had discussed marriage, but decided to postpone their engagement until he returned from England. One clause in the 36-part touring players' contract with the Board of Control forbade players working for any newspaper or broadcasting company during the tour.

Soon after arriving in England, Bradman was approached by a literary agent and asked to write a book. He said he could not publish anything about the tour while the Australians were in England, but agreed to make a start so the book could be published soon after his departure.

On 30 April 1930, he made his debut in England at Worcester. He batted cautiously at first and after 115 minutes, brought up his first century in England and then proceeded to a record 236 in 280 minutes.

Bradman's performance confounded his critics who said he would not succeed in England. At Leicester, he scored 185 before rain intervened. At Sheffield against Yorkshire, he made 78 in a 107-run partnership with Woodfull and then went to London for his first innings at Lords, against the MCC. He made 66 and four and critics decided he was indeed fallible.

The tourists met Surrey at The Oval on 24 May and on a soft wicket, Bradman brought up his 200 in just 255 minutes. By stumps, he was unconquered on 252, another record.

After the next match, against Oxford, he needed only 46 runs to complete 1000 runs before the end of May, a feat he achieved at Southampton on 31 May with the aid of a generous decision by the opposing captain, Lord Tennyson, to play in teeming rain and near darkness.

First Tests in England

The first Test opened at Trent Bridge on Friday 13 June 1930. Bradman made eight, but in the second innings became the first Australian to score a Test hundred at Trent Bridge. Despite his 131, Australia lost by 93 runs.

The second Test at Lords saw England amass 405. Bradman went in at number three at 3.30 on the second day. At stumps, he was unbeaten on 155 and by lunch the next day was 231. In what he says today was technically his most perfect innings, he scored 254.

With a win under their belt, the Australians opened the third Test at Headingley on 11 July and Bradman was in after only five balls. In 99 minutes before lunch, he reached 100. At tea he was 220 and after 336 minutes brought up his 300.

Off the last ball of the day, a masterly off drive brought his score up to 309, his 2000th run of the tour. Resuming next day, Bradman was out for 334 and the match was drawn. Another century in a match in Scotland followed before the fourth Test at Old Trafford was washed out. He made a century against Somerset, 58 in Wales and 35 against Northamptonshire before the fifth Test at The Oval.

In a rain interrupted innings, he scored 232 before falling to a doubtful caught behind decision. In 408 minutes on a sodden pitch, he weathered the wounding deliveries of Larwood and Co. and guaranteed an Australian win and the Ashes.

Bradman made one more double century before finishing the tour with 2960 runs at 98.66.

Fame and a 50 fine

By the time the Australian team returned on 28 October 1930, Don Bradman faced two major problems. The first was the publicity juggernaut, organised in part by his employers, that was taking over his life. Secondly, his book had incurred the displeasure of the Board of Control.

No-one in Australia had seen the book, but some installments were published by the London Daily Star while the Australians were still in England. However, the publishers had agreed to a condition set down by Bradman that no passages about the tour were to appear while he was on tour. He had received no money for the newspaper serialisation and played no part in negotiations between the Star and his publishers.

The series against the West Indies opened in Adelaide on 12 December 1930, with the controversy still unresolved. Bradman made only four but in a match between NSW and South Australia two days later, he scored his tenth double century.

Finally, the Board found that Bradman had breached Clause 11 and fined him 50, a decision that was widely condemned.

He walked on to the SCG for the second Test to a standing ovation, but soon departed for 25. A record breaking 223 not out, the highest score by an Australian in a home Test, followed in the third Test [in Brisbane]. Against Victoria from 24 to 28 January, he became the only man to make 1000 runs in each of three Australian seasons when he reached 76. He went on to make 200.

Bradman's third fastest Test century, in 102 minutes, was scored on the MCG in the fourth Test. He went on to 152, but followed that performance with his first Test duck, in Sydney. Australia won the series.

After the Tests, he went with a country tour of Queensland, but broke his ankle while fielding in Rockhampton. He spent several days in hospital and convalesced for some weeks. Luckily, there was time for the injury to mend before the next cricket season.

Accrington and South Africans

Two days before his 23rd birthday, on 25 August 1931, Bradman was astonished when Sydney businessman Claude Spencer told him of an offer worth 500 each season for three years to play as a professional with Accrington, a small club in England's Lancashire League.

The offer was upped to 600 a year, plus other benefits and the promise of other employment. By the time the Press picked up the story, the offer was blown out of all proportion and many stories were based on the assumption that Bradman had already accepted.

He deferred a decision and went on a tour of country New South Wales. While he scored four centuries, the controversy raged on in both Australia and England.

By the time the Board of Council ruled that acceptance of the offer would mean the end of Bradman's Test career, negotiations were going on of which Bradman again had no knowledge.

On 30 October, he turned down the English offer in favour of a combined contract with Associated Newspapers, radio station 2UE and Sydney menswear retailer F J Palmer. The agreement was for Bradman to write newspaper articles, do his own radio program on 2UE and make appearances in Palmer's sporting goods department.

When in November of 1931, he and Jessie Menzies announced their engagement, the Australians were preparing themselves to meet South Africa.

In Shield games, Bradman scored 0, 23, 167, 23 and 0, but made amends for this inconsistency when he played against the tourists. In five innings in four Tests, his scores were 226, 112, 2, 167 and 299 in Adelaide in January, 1932. In NSW versus South Africa games, he made 30, 135 and 219. He did not bat in the fifth Test because of an ankle injury.

Perhaps his most remarkable performance for the season was a 256 scored for St George against Lithgow in which he made 100 runs in a partnership of 102 made off only three overs!

A cricketer's honeymoon

Jessie Menzies and Donald Bradman were married in St Paul's Church in Burwood, Sydney, on 30 April 1932. After a brief honeymoon in Melbourne, the newlyweds prepared for a more vigorous journey.

A private tour was being organized by former Test cricketer and sports journalist and cartoonist Arthur Mailey to North America. Bradman was cleared by his employers and the Board of Control and he and his wife sailed from Sydney and arrived in Vancouver, Canada, on 16 June.

In 75 days, the Australians travelled almost 10,000 kilometers across Canada and the USA. They played 51 matches, including one in Hollywood against a team that included the actor Boris Karloff. In New York, Bradman attended a baseball game between the Yankees and the White Sox in the company of the legendary Babe Ruth.

He played in every match and amassed 3779 runs at 102. 1, but when the team returned to Sydney on 23 September, he found himself sailing into a new controversy.

This time, the Board had decided that if Bradman wrote for Associated Newspapers during the upcoming tour by the Englishmen, he would be in breach of his contract. The relevant clauses stipulated that no player could write newspaper articles about the Tests unless that was his sole means of livelihood. The controversy dragged on even after the English team had arrived.

The bodyline attack

In October 1932, Don Bradman had never been in worse condition to face the rigours of another first-class season. The events of the previous 12 months had been very demanding, and as he scanned the list of visiting English bowlers, he noted that a bumper attack could be expected. Bodyline was imminent.

England captain Douglas Jardine unveiled his secret weapon on the MCG between 18 and 22 November when an Australian side met the MCC. Bradman made 36 against the ferocity of bowlers Larwood and Voce and critics commented that he looked decidedly uncomfortable against the English tactic of stacking the leg side and bowling bouncers over the batsman's leg stump.

He was ruled unfit for the first Test which a battered Australian side lost by 10 wickets. On the day before the second Test, the Board issued an ultimatum: If Bradman insisted on writing on the Test, he would not play. Bradman believed the Board was wrong and said he would not break his agreement with his employers, arguing that his obligations to Associated Newspapers, 2UE and Palmers were linked inextricably and together comprised his livelihood. Mr R C Packer, editorial head of the newspaper group, resolved the impasse by persuading Bradman that Associated Newspapers would rather see him play Test cricket and relieved him of his obligation to write.

In the Test, he made a first ball duck before employing a theory he had devised to beat the bodyline attack in the second innings.

He repeatedly stepped away to the leg side and scored freely through the unprotected off side on his way to a grinding 103. Australia won the Test. Bradman's pleas to the Board to protest to the MCC over the English tactics were not heeded until Australia had lost the third Test in Adelaide.

In an atmosphere more akin to two countries at war, Bradman joined Woodfull on 14 January 1932, with the English fielders in orthodox positions.

When Woodfull was struck by a Larwood delivery, the crowd erupted in anger. Larwood prepared to bowl his next ball when Jardine stopped him in the middle of his run up and ordered his players into the bodyline positions. The game was played for the rest of the day to a fusillade of enraged barracking as Australia's batsmen were struck repeatedly. Bradman made 8.

The Board then protested to the MCC. No reply was received before the third Test where Bradman made 66 in a losing total and England won the fourth in Brisbane, again in an atmosphere of acrimony.

In the fifth Test in Sydney, with the Ashes already won, Jardine persisted with bodyline and even refused to allow an injured Larwood to leave the field until Bradman was out for 71.

Triumph and disaster

The Shield season of 1933?34 was shortened so the Australian team could get away to England for the 1934 tour. In two matches against Queensland, Bradman set a new batch of records, making his seventeenth double century in the first and 253 in 204 minutes in the second. Of the 253, he made 131 before lunch and at 139, completed 1000 runs for the season for the sixth successive year.

Then, early in 1934, he dropped a bombshell by announcing that he had signed a six-year deal to work for Adelaide stockbroker Harry Hodgetts. Meanwhile, apart from a troublesome back problem, he was suffering from periodic abdominal pains.

Although he had been appointed vice-captain, Bradman was relieved of playing in any of the matches en route to England. At Worcester, he had a shaky start, but went on to repeat his 1930 feat of scoring a double century in the first match of the tour.

The first Test at Nottingham opened on 8 June. Australia won by 238 runs, but Bradman made only 29 and 25. The second Test saw him open in devastating form, but the audacity of his batting so unnerved his captain, Woodfull, that a message was sent out to tell him to be more restrained. Bradman promptly gave an easy caught and bowled chance and with him departed Australia's hope of victory.

Before the third Test, it was feared that Bradman, Kippax and Chipperfield might have diphtheria and an out-of-sorts Australian side saved the game.

England was dismissed at Headingley in the fourth Test for 200 and three Australian wickets fell quickly. Bradman joined Ponsford and when stumps were drawn, he was 271. Ponsford made 181 and Bradman totaled 304. Rain saved England and with the series tied one-all, the fifth Test opened at The Oval on 18 August. There, Bradman made 244 in a day. Australia won the Test and the Ashes.

Then, on 22 September, he was stricken with severe abdominal pains. At 4 p.m., he was operated on for a badly infected appendix. Next day, peritonitis set in and Jessie Bradman set off immediately on the four-week journey to England. Her husband was close to death. She was well into her trek when the hospital announced the crisis was over.

After a joyous reunion, the Bradmans spent Christmas in France before sailing home to rest at the Menzies farm in NSW finally arriving in Adelaide on 25 April 1935.

Captain of Australia

Don Bradman was appointed a State selector and led South Australia for the first time in September 1935. Against his old State, he scored 117 and followed up with a double century-233 in 191 minutes-against Queensland.

On 31 January 1936, he walked on to the MCG for his fifty-fifth first class innings. At 17, he reached 5000 Shield runs and was 229 not out at stumps. He went on to score 357 in 421 minutes. South Australia had already won the Sheffield Shield for the first time in nine years before he scored 369 in 253 minutes against a Tasmanian side in the final game of the season.

In the winter of 1936, the Bradmans moved into their new house in suburban Adelaide and planned a family.

Vic Richardson had led the touring Australians to victory over South Africa and Bradman had been appointed a Test selector.

The Englishmen arrived on 13 October, but tragedy was to delay Bradman's appearance against them. On 28 October, Jessie gave birth to a son, but the baby died a few days later.

Don Bradman captained Australia for the first time in the first Test in Brisbane on 4 December. Australia was caught on a rain-affected pitch in its second innings and lost by 322 runs. Australia was also caught on a sticky wicket in Sydney and went to Melbourne 2?0 down.

The third Test opened on 1 January 1937, and Bradman won his first toss. Australia failed on a good wicket before Bradman declared, gambling that his bowlers could attack England on a wet wicket after overnight rain. The gamble paid off and England declared at 76. Bradman countered by sending out bowlers O'Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith to open the innings.

When Bradman joined Fingleton at five for 97 next day, he began an innings of 270 that spanned three days and assured Australia of victory. In Adelaide, he put together a grueling 212 in 441 minutes and the rubber was tied. In Melbourne, Bradman top scored with 169 to help Australia to victory by 200 runs.

A casualty of cricket

The year from March 1937 was a busy and happy time for Don Bradman. Harry Hodgett's business was booming and he was enjoying his job. He took up squash, winning the South Australian squash championship, and wrote his second book, My cricketing life, which was published in July 1938.

As a Test selector and State captain, he was occupied with more than his batting, but he still gave the Queensland bowlers their annual drubbing, scoring 246 in one match and 107 and 113 in another.

The 16-man squad to England in 1938 sailed via Naples where the Australians counted 116 warships at anchor.

With the season underway, he made his third successive double century at Worcester and in eight games before the first Test scored 258, 58, 137, 278, 143, 145, 2 and 35 twice. By the end of May, he had made 1056 runs.

In the first Test at Nottingham on 10 June, Bradman was overruled by his fellow selectors and forced to play an extra bowler. England made a record 658 before Stan McCabe made 232 out of 411 for Australia. In the second innings, Bradman made 141 not out to save the match.

Lords was crammed for the second Test on 24 June. England made a big score but Bradman made a match-saving 102 not out.

Bradman then called his team together to discuss a clause in their contracts that forbade their wives, children or other family members from being in England while the tour was in progress. Bradman simply wanted the Board to allow his wife to join him at the end of the tour.

The Board subsequently refused his request and he was so angry that he drafted a letter of resignation, but was talked out of delivering it by the team doctor, Rowley Pope. All he would say publicly was that he was extremely disappointed. The Board eventually relented under pressure from the other Australian players.

With the third Test washed out, the two sides went to Headingley on 21 July. Bradman made 103 in very bad light to secure a first innings lead. England was caught on a wet pitch and dismissed cheaply. Out for 16 in his second innings, Bradman was so nervous, he could not watch the rest of the game, although Australia won by five wickets and retained the Ashes.

Another double century, against Somerset, preceded the final Test at The Oval on 20 August. Out of seven declared for 903, Len Hutton scored 364 of England's 903 after being missed at 40. Bradman was carried from the field with a flake fracture of the ankle after he fell while bowling.

Back in Australia for the 1938-39 season, he led South Australia to another Shield win. In seven first-class matches between 25 December and 9 January, he made 118, 143, 225, 107, 186 and 135 in six consecutive innings.

The 100th century

On 10 June 1939, John Russell Bradman was born and on 3 September World War Two broke out. It was decided that cricket would continue for purposes of morale. Bradman made five centuries and three double centuries, including 267 on the MCG on 1 January 1940.

When France surrendered on 25 June, Bradman was among thousands of Australians who rushed to enlist. He joined the RAAF, but was seconded to the Army where he was made a lieutenant and sent to Victoria to train as a physical training instructor bound for the Middle East.

A medical examination confirmed that his vision was fading before an All-Services athletics meeting finished his back. He was hospitalised and effectively incapacitated.

On 17 April 1941, Jessie had a second child, Shirley June. Meanwhile, her husband's muscular spasms had spread to his right arm which he could not raise above shoulder height. He was invalided out of the Army and went with his family to Mittagong, near Bowral, to convalesce.

The Bradmans returned to Adelaide early in 1942 and Bradman resumed work with Harry Hodgetts. He was playing a little golf, but no cricket. On 11 May 1943, he was elected to the Adelaide Stock Exchange, but his job disappeared overnight when Hodgetts was declared bankrupt and faced criminal charges. At 37, Bradman was faced with starting his business life again. He set up his own stockbroking business, Don Bradman and Co., in Adelaide.

On 13 August 1945, he was elected to the Board of Control. He had not handled a cricket bat for five years and his muscular problem now affected both arms. While an Australian side toured New Zealand during the winter of 1946, he built up his health with the help of Melbourne masseur Ern Saunders.

Bradman was ambivalent about playing cricket again, but with his wife taking a greater role in the business, he accepted the Australian captaincy against England's 1946 touring team.

After some preliminary matches, he played in the first Test in Brisbane on 29 November. He survived a controversial appeal at 28 and went on to an unbeaten 162 at stumps. He totalled 187 in a winning score when he added 25 the next morning.

Despite his good form, there was much speculation that he would retire. He limped to the SCG wicket in the third Test suffering from a gastric attack and survived for 52. Next day, he and Sid Barnes stayed together for a day less 17 minutes for a record fifth wicket stand of 405. Both batsmen finished with 234 runs and Australia won. The third and fourth Tests were drawn and Australia won the fifth.

The temptation to play in the first Australia-India Test series kept Bradman in the game and in November 1947, he captained an Australian XI against India on the SCG and made his 100th first-class century. At 172, he threw his wicket away.

Australia won the first Test which opened in Brisbane on 28 November. Bradman made 185 in a rain-interrupted innings. The second Test was washed out and on 1 January 1948, 45,000 people went to the MCG for the third. Bradman made 132 and 127 and Australia won.

In Adelaide in the fourth Test, Bradman made 201 Hassett 198 and Barnes 112 in a winning score. Before the last Test, he announced that he would tour England in 1948, adding that this would be his last Test series. He retired hurt on 57 in his last Test appearance in Australia.

The final Test

Post-war London gave the Australians a hearty welcome and although his injured side was still worrying him, Bradman opened the tour against Worcester and made 107 before throwing his wicket away, something that he was to do regularly during the tour.

His 146 at The Oval against Surrey between 8 and 11 May gave him a first-hand look at England bowler Alec Bedser before the team went to Southend and scored 721 runs in a day. Bradman made 187 in 124 minutes.

Before the first Test opened at Nottingham on 10 June, he passed Warren Bardsley's record of runs scored by an Australian in England. Bradman made 7927 in 94 innings compared to Bardsley's 7866 in 175.

He passed the 1000-run mark for the season in the first Test when he reached 132 and went on to score 138 in an eight-wicket victory.

The second Test opened at Lords on 24 June and Bradman made 38 and 89 in his final Test appearances on the famous ground and led Australia to another win. After a century against Surrey, he went to Manchester for the third Test where rain robbed the home side of victory.

Norman Yardley's men made 496 in the fourth Test at Headingley and Australia was set 404 runs to make in 354 minutes in its second innings, a feat never before achieved. Bradman put together a record partnership of 301 with Morris and the captain was there on 173 when Australia achieved the impossible and won by seven wickets with 15 minutes to spare.

The tourists went on their undefeated way before Don Bradman's last Test, at The Oval. England was out for a record low 52 on a wet wicket and at 117 for one, Bradman walked to the wicket to a crescendo of acclamation, needing just four runs to finish his Test career with an average of 100.

He played the first ball from Hollies without taking a run and then the bowler delivered a perfect googly. It touched the inside of the great batsman's bat and clipped the off bail and he was out for a duck. Still, Australia won the game and the series.

His last first-class match in England was against Levenson-Gower's XI, a team of full England strength, and he made 153. In his last game in Britain, at Aberdeen in Scotland, he made an unbeaten 123.

He had led his side to a unique record of remaining undefeated for the entire tour.

Knighthood and beyond

The boy from Bowral became Sir Donald George Bradman, Knight Bachelor, when the New Year's Honours List was announced in 1949.

By the time he played his last two first-class matches-testimonials for Bert Oldfield, Alan Kippax and Arthur Richardson-he was still an Australian Test selector and a member of the Board of Control. He was a member of the Cricket Committee of the South Australian Cricket Association from 1965 to 1973, and a representative on the Interstate Conference of Sheffield Shield States from 1945 to 1975.

His firm was well established when he started work on his third book, Farewell to cricket, which was published in June 1950. The art of cricket, his fourth book, was published in 1958.

He covered the 1953 and 1956 tours of England for the London Daily Mail and, having retired from running his stockbroking company prior to the 1956 tour, accepted a number of company directorships. In 1958 he was made a life member of the MCC and in 1959 appointed to the Select Committee on Throwing. On 13 September 1960, he became the first former Test player to be elected chairman of the Board of Control.

Sir Donald's last major controversy was over the proposed tour of Australia by the South Africans in 1971-72. Although he dearly wanted the tour to go ahead, he announced on 9 September 1971, that it would not. Instead, he organised a multi-racial tour of Australia by a Rest of The World side.

On 5 January 1974, Sir Donald and Lady Bradman attended the opening at the SCG of the Bradman Stand. He was feted at the annual Lord Taverner's dinner in London in March of that year and in September, 1976, attended the opening of the Bradman Oval in Bowral.

In March 1977, he accepted an invitation to address a luncheon during the Centenary Test played at Melbourne to mark 100 years of Test cricket between Australia and England. His speech was received with tumultuous applause.

On 16 June 1979, he was invested as a Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia's second highest civil award.