Bradman reigns supreme even after the Second World War : Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’

The Don

England had little to play for in the final Test at Sydney. Hutton scored a hundred on the first day before retiring hurt for 122. The second day’s play was washed out. England totalled 280 as Lindwall captured seven for 63. For Australia, Barnes and Morris put up a century opening stand, while Bradman was dismissed for 12. Doug Wright claimed seven for 105, as England took a first innings lead of 27.

In the absence of Hutton they were bowled out for 186, with Compton playing a valiant innings of 76. McCool now took five for 44, Australia being left with 214 to win. Bradman took them to within sight of victory, thanks to a 98-run stand with Hassett (47). The Don left after scoring 63 off 117 deliveries in as many minutes, with 7 hits to the fence. This brought Miller to the crease, who ushered the team to the inevitable triumph by five wickets with his belligerent 34 not out containing 6 fours.

It was an emphatic 3-0 series win for Australia, who were now growing in strength under Bradman with the emergence of a new generation of batsmen and pace bowlers. It was a tremendous allround side and a fielding outfit par excellence with a brilliant Don Tallon behind the stumps. Bradman’s experience and shrewd captaincy turned a collection of strong individuals into an unbeatable combination. Miller had once said: “I didn’t get along with him as a man. We had nothing in common. But, as a batsman, captain and tactician, he had no equal.”

Again, Bradman by far topped the aggregates and averages on both sides. He scored 680 runs at 97.14 per innings. The openers, Sidney Barnes and Arthur Morris logged up nearly 950 runs between them, both averaging in the 70s. Lindsay Hassett notched up 332 runs at 47.42 per innings. The allrounders were superb, the fast bowling duo of Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall capturing 16 wickets (average 20.87) and 18 wickets (average 20.38) and hitting up 384 runs (average 76.80) and 160 runs (average 32) respectively. Colin McCool took 18 wickets (average 27.27) and scored 272 runs (average 54.40). Medium-pacer Ernie Toshack bagged 17 wickets (average 25.70). It was a wonderful team effort.

For England, Hutton, Compton and Edrich topped 400 runs each, but Hammond was a shadow of his former self, failing to register even a half-century. Doug Wright took 23 wickets, albeit at 43.04 apiece, and even the great Alec Bedser’s 16 wickets cost 54.75 each. Clearly, Bradman’s side had outclassed them.

Once again Bradman topped 1000 runs in a first-class season. In 9 matches he scored 1032 runs at an average of 79.38 with 4 hundreds. He was playing alongside virtually a new generation of players and not only was he matching their youthful energy, but still outclassing them. The war had not taken away any of his skills. Imagine what kind of record he would have built up had the Second World War not happened.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Don’s Century’, published by Sporting Links, ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0.

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110 001, Phones + 91 11 23417175 and 23412567.

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