Then, on the eve of departure for home, Bradman felt unbearable pain in his stomach. The unease that he had been feeling throughout the tour had finally manifested itself in its most excruciating form.
Dr. John Lee examined Bradman but could not immediately come up with a conclusive diagnosis. He drove out into the country in order to ponder over the vexing problem in solitude. Suspecting appendicitis, he rushed to the well-known surgeon from Melbourne, Sir Douglas Shields, who shifted Bradman immediately to his nursing home located at Park Lane in London. Post-haste Bradman was operated upon but developed complications.
One shudders to read Bradman’s own words in his Farewell to Cricket: “There can be no doubt that for some time I hovered on the brink of eternity, which was not nearly so bad for me as for my wife in Australia, who had heard the general rumour of my demise.” For some time the situation was extremely grim and the newspapers were full of stories of Bradman’s illness. His condition deteriorated to such an extent that the hospital issued a bulletin announcing that Bradman was struggling for his life, and unable to handle the massive flood of enquiries, shut down its switchboard. The newspapers were preparing obituaries just in case the unthinkable happened; the Manchester Guardian gave Neville Cardus the unpleasant duty of penning a tribute to his young friend.
Then, slowly, Bradman began to recover. A terribly worried Jessie, before sailing for England, sent him a cable with all her good wishes, which cheered him no end. By the time she arrived after the long sea voyage, Don was well on his way to recovery.
He was back from the brink. Just as he had battled to come up trumps on the field, Bradman had fought this dreadful illness and lived to tell the tale. He was truly immortal, chosen by destiny to dazzle with the bat like no other. The tour marked the passing of the half-way mark of his career. In many ways it ushered a new beginning, the second innings of his glorious years at the crease.
(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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