The Bradmans and the Sydney Cricket Ground

Over the
years, the world has witnessed numerous father-son duos in cricket, where both
end up forging a career playing the “gentleman’s game”.  But the cricketing
relationship between Don Bradman and his father, George, was a rather special one.

While George
Bradman was no mug on the cricket pitch, a skilled bowler in his youth, he didn’t
possess the talent to take him beyond club cricket.  A carpenter by
trade, George’s skills with wood came in handy for the young Don; when his son
was presented with his first bat, it was far too heavy for him so George re-fashioned it to make it a more
appropriate size.

In February
1921, George helped to fuel his son’s passion for cricket by taking him to an
Ashes test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), the closest cricket stadium to
their home in Bowral.  

George was no stranger to the ground.  In 1896 he was
part of a carpentry team that built the formwork for a cycling track that
circled the SCG, a ground that would end up becoming one of the most significant
places in his son’s life.  

So, as well as giving young Don a love for the game, you could almost argue that George literally created the foundations of the cricketing theatre his son would take centre stage on.

Despite
quitting cricket for a year to play tennis when he was in his teens, Don Bradman made his first class debut for New South Wales
at the Adelaide Oval at the tender age of 19 and scored a memorable 118.  

He
made his first home century for New South Wales in the final match of the season
at the SCG, but it was only after twin centuries against the England touring
team that he was rewarded with international selection.

As a young
boy, Bradman declared that he would “never be satisfied until he played” at the
SCG – and it was there that he scored his first multiple century.  In
 a
Sheffield Shield game in 1929, he amassed 340 not out, a then record score at the ground. 

But records are there to be broken after all and a year later Bradman hammered
a brutal 452 not out at the very same ground, dominating the Queensland attack
with 49 boundaries and scoring what was the highest first class score ever at the
time. The record stood for 29 years, a testimony to his genius.

By the
1930s, Bradman’s brilliance was evident. 

People came in their thousands to the SCG to watch the “boy from
Bowral” work his magic for New South Wales and Australia. Consistently packed
to the rafters, the huge crowds he attracted to the SCG helped boost the stadium’s coffers and in 1936 a new stand was opened at the ground.

With
Bradman, it wasn’t just about the runs he scored, it was the way he scored
them; racing to each milestone, playing eye-catching strokes, his cover
drive particularly glorious to watch.

Such was
Bradman’s popularity that even during his wedding, onlookers flocked to the
church to catch a glimpse of their cricketing idol.

In his final
season for New South Wales in 1934 he averaged a truly ridiculous 132.44, much to the delight of the SCG faithful – before he moved to Adelaide to work as a stockbroker
as he looked to establish himself off the cricket field.

Even when playing for South Australia he worked his magic in Australia’s largest city – In 1939-40, back at the SCG with his new teamDon scored a memorable 251 not out against his old side New South Wales, at a ground he once called home.  That season his average stood at a colossal 144.

Sadly for
Don Bradman, he peaked just at the wrong time. The world was devastated by World War Two and sport had to take a back seat.

To make matters worse, Bradman had struggled with fibrosis for many years, but it worsened during the
war and his doctor advised against him returning to the game he loved.

Against the
odds, Bradman played in the 1946-47 Ashes series and he made an immediate impact, scoring 187 in the first test at the Gabba
after controversially refusing to walk when he was caught at second slip off a “bump ball”.

Bradman
etched his name into the history books again in the second test; he and Sid
Barnes combined to form a record 405 run 5th wicket partnership, enthralling
the Sydney crowd.

The pre-war
Bradman was back.

In 1947,
India toured Australia for the first time in their history and Bradman didn’t treat the visitors lightly.  Again, he dished up a
masterclass at the SCG, scoring 172 – his 100th first class ton. In
what was his final series in Australia, the Don averaged an almost unbelievable
178.5.

The 1948 Ashes would be Bradman’s last international foray and despite his age, he helped the Aussies beat the English 4-0, earning his side
the “invincibles” tag. 

Ironically, in his last test innings, Bradman was famously dismissed
for a duck, an anti-climatic end to a truly remarkable career.  It left his batting average stuck on 99.94, a whisker short of the magic three figures.

Few sportspeople
have ever been as far ahead of their competition as Bradman and although
Tendulkar may have scored more runs, there is little doubt that Bradman is the
greatest batsman to have ever graced this planet.

In 1973, the Don
Bradman Stand was opened at the Sydney Cricket Ground – the very same
place where his father built those foundations all those years ago. 

Rest in peace
Don Bradman, 
the greatest batsman of them all, 1908 – 2001.

As ever, thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for more top cricket content and feel free to share this blog with any fellow cricket lovers you know.

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