It may not have been an auspicious beginning to the 1931-32 season, as Bradman was dismissed for a duck against Queensland. That, as usual, was an aberration for which the bowlers paid dearly.
In an exhibition match to inaugurate an experimental malthoid pitch at Blackheath, about 100 kilometres west of Sydney, on 3rd November 1931, Bradman smashed a hundred off 22 deliveries in 3 eight-ball overs. Representing a Blackheath Invitation XI, Bradman roughed up the bowlers of Lithgow Pottery in an astonishing hitting spree. In the first over he crashed 33 runs (126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52); in the second he hammered 40 (184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11); in the third his partner Bill Wendell took a single off the first ball, then Bradman clouted 6.6.1, Wendell took a single off the next, before Don blasted 4.4.6. It was exactly a hundred.
He went on to score 256 in two-and-a-half hours with 25 fours and 14 sixes. This was not a first-class match, but those who had been treated to the Bradman magic did not care.
The South Africans were touring this season and Bradman had something special in store for them. Woolloongabba, or the Gabba as it is popularly known, was staging its inaugural Test and the irrepressible Bradman celebrated the occasion in style. He was unbeaten on 200 at close on the first day.
During the course of this 22nd innings of his 15th Test, he passed 2000 runs. Australia were 341 for six. He had put on 163 for the second wicket with Woodfull (76) and 81 for the fourth with McCabe (27). Next morning when his seventh-wicket partnership with Oldfield (56 not out) was worth 60, Bradman was trapped leg-before for 226. He had been in for 277 minutes and hit 22 boundaries.
Australia totalled 450, and there was a sense of déjà vu as the woes of the West Indies in the previous season began to be replicated by the South Africans now. They were beaten by an innings and 163 runs, being bowled out for 170 and 117.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org).
‘Don’s Century’, published by Sporting Links, ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0.
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