Sir Donald Bradman is regarded by many as the greatest batsman in the history of cricket and was one of Australia's most revered sporting personalities.
Donald George Bradman was born at Cootamundra, New South Wales, on 27 August 1908, the fifth and youngest child of George Bradman and Emily, nee Whatman. The Bradman family moved to Bowral in 1911 and took its place in the activities of the local community. Cricket was one of the district's popular sports and the young Don Bradman showed an interest from an early age. When there was no-one to play cricket with him, he devised his own way of perfecting various techniques, using a cricket stump to hit a golf ball thrown against the tank-stand at the rear of the Bradman house. At the age of twelve, he scored his first century for Bowral High School; at seventeen he was the youngest member of the Bowral cricket team, where his ability to make runs broke the club's records.
Before Bradman was nineteen he was selected to play for the New South Wales Second Eleven against a Victorian side. He also played for the Sydney team St George and while a member of that team was selected to play for the State Sheffield Shield side in December 1927.
Bradman's first match for New South Wales was against a Barrier side at Broken Hill that month. His first century against another Stateside followed immediately after in Adelaide when he scored 118. He was selected to play in the 1928-29 Test Series against England and in the Third Test, in Melbourne, he made 112, his first century in Test cricket.
In the 1928-29 season, he scored 1,690 runs, including seven centuries, a record Australian total unrivalled by any batsman from any country. This included a score of 340 not out in the Shield game against Victoria. In January 1930, Bradman's score of 452 not out in the second innings against Queensland became - and still remains - the highest score ever made in a first-class match in Australia.
He was included in the Australian side for the 1930 tour of England at the age of 21. Before the Test series commenced, the Australians played the county team Worcestershire on Worcester Cricket Ground. Bradman made 236 runs in 276 minutes. This was the highest score ever made by an Australian in his first match in England, the best by a visitor in his first innings of an English tour and the highest score made by any batsman on his first tour of any other country. Bradman became the first Australian to score 1,000 runs in England before the end of May 1930. The Second Test of this series saw Bradman score 254 at Lord's in London, and at Leeds, he made 334 in the Third, both records.
Bradman's brilliant scoring against the English Test side on the 1930 tour concerned the English officials, with good reason. Returning to Australia, Bradman played in the 1930-31 series against the West Indies and in the 1931-32 series when South Africa toured Australia.
For the 1932-33 tour of Australia, the English captain Douglas Jardine had conceived his infamous 'bodyline' strategy of bowling for Bowes, Larwood, Voce and Allen. However, Bradman was still able to amass the highest batting aggregate and average of the Australian players.
In 1934 he was a member of the Australian side for the English Test tour and repeated his 1930 high scoring with another double century at Worcester and 304 at Leeds in the Fourth Test. Don Bradman and his wife came to Adelaide to live in 1935.
For the return visit of England in 1936-37, Bradman captained the Australian side. He was captain for the 1938 tour of England where he scored his third consecutive double century at Worcester.
World War II intervening, there were no more Test cricket tours until 1946, when an Australian team, without Bradman, went to New Zealand. He captained the Australian side for the tour by England that year and for the first Test series against an Indian side in Australia in 1947-48. In the latter series, he scored, in Sydney, his 100th century - the first Australian batsman to reach that milestone score.
His last Test and role as Australian captain was the triumphant 1948 tour of England. The Australians went through the tour undefeated. The Leeds Fourth Test was particularly memorable when Australia's innings score of 404 for three wickets (including Bradman's 173 not out) created a new record. Never before had a team scored 400 runs in its last innings to win a Test match. Bradman was praised for his leadership.
The English newspaper The People organised a public fund (limited to a one shilling subscription per person) to raise money to present Bradman with a suitable trophy as an expression of their esteem. Part of the amount contributed paid for a silver replica of the Roman antique Warwick Vase, which was presented to the Australian captain at a function in London before the team returned home. At Bradman's request, the balance of the money was used to lay down concrete pitches in English parks for the use of young players.
Trophy presented to Bradman by the "cricket lovers of Britain", 1948. A replica of the Roman marble vase at Warwick Castle, the trophy was purchased following a public subscription sponsored by The People newspaper.
Don Bradman was knighted by King George VI in the 1949 New Year's Honours List for his services to cricket and Commonwealth relations.
Bradman's overall performance in Shield and Test cricket is still without parallel. His Test average was 99.94 and his Test aggregate 6,996 runs. In 96 Sheffield Shield innings, he averaged 110.19. Bradman's total of 117 first-class centuries (including 37 double centuries) is still a record for any Australian.
He was captain of the South Australian Shield team from 1935 to 1949 and made an enormous contribution to cricket in this State. He served on the Cricket Committee of the S.A.C.A. for 26 years, on the Ground and Finance Committee for 43 years, was President for eight years, a Trustee for 39 years, and a State and Australian selector for 33 years. Bradman represented this State on the Australian Board of Control for International Cricket for 30 years and was Chairman for six years.
He wrote his autobiography Farewell to Cricket, published in 1950 and two instructional books on the game How to play cricket, published in 1935 and The Art of Cricket, published in 1958.
Sir Donald Bradman was created a Companion of the Order of Australia on 16 June 1979.
Sir Donald passed away in Adelaide on 25 February 2001.
This overview of Sir Donald Bradman's career was written by Neil Thomas as part of his Guide to the Sir Donald Bradman Collection held in the Mortlock Library of South Australiana Adelaide, The Libraries Board of South Australia, 1992).
The State Library is happy for a copy of the entire article to be made for private use, but further publication requires the library's permission.