First grade cricket in Sydney was the next step up the ladder the same season. St. George Club commissioned Bradman, paying him 30 shillings a week, and with the return fare to Sydney being 8 shillings 6 pence, it was a good deal provided he made the entire trip the same day. So at dawn each Saturday, he would rise before 5 o’clock, catch the train to the big city 70 miles away, play the game, and be back home in Bowral, at times around midnight. The talented and toiling young Don was an instant hit as he blazed to 110 at a-run-a-minute in his maiden appearance. So impressive were his performances that Bradman was picked to play for New South Wales second XI against Victoria. He held his own here as well, scoring 43. There was little doubt that Don Bradman held rare promise.
Success eluded him during the onset of the 1927-28 season, but only briefly. Bradman scored centuries for St. George Club and for a combined St. George Club – University team. Fate played a part again when two members of the New South Wales Sheffield Shield side pulled out, and Bradman got his break in first-class cricket. There was no looking back from then on.
Don Bradman took the field for New South Wales against South Australia at Adelaide, and scored a century on debut. His 118 came in a little over three hours.
Bradman rounded off the season by carving an unbeaten 134 off the Victoria attack at Sydney. In five first-class matches he notched up 416 runs at an average of 46.22. They now called him ‘The Boy from Bowral’. The English batsman Patsy Hendren thought he had seen splendid talent, “I could tell that day that New South Wales had discovered another champion. Don was a cordial kid who seemed to love batting more than anything in life, even more than fielding along the boundary, in which he also took great joy.” It was a promising start for the nineteen year old, but what was to follow was simply astounding. The legend of Bradman was about to unravel.
(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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