There was just one mission left; the Ashes campaign of 1948. What better way to crown such an unrivalled career than to beat England on their soil and establish his supremacy one final time. It was still a war-ravaged Britain. The evidence was all over and shortages continued to make life uncomfortable.
As always, Worcestershire hosted the tour opener, and Bradman unveiled his customary three-figure knock. Only this time it was just a hundred, 107 to be precise, not a double century. The Worcester Evening News headline announced, ‘The Don fails at Last’. Some accounts suggested that he had thrown his wicket away. Perhaps he had had enough of the bowlers at New Road, or maybe the ‘old man’ had tired. Bradman’s scores against Worcestershire on his four tours were 236, 206, 258 and 107.
In an ominous sign, on May 15 against Essex, Australia amassed the most runs ever made in a day in first-class cricket. They totalled 721 in 348 minutes, with four centurions, Bill Brown (153), Bradman (187), Sam Loxton (120) and Roy Saggers (104 not out). The singular Keith Miller chose the cast away his wicket with a wild slog at Trevor Bailey, being bowled for zero. He wrote in Cricket Crossfire, “During this game at Southend I walked in to bat, did not take guard, made a sleep-walking stroke and was bowled. I turned to the wicketkeeper and said ‘Thank God that’s over,’ and walked away.” Miller’s petulance apart, Bradman’s campaign was on track. He believed in starting on the right note; he always did in England.
(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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