Who really was Don Bradman? What really is his legacy? What are the lessons that he left behind for us to imbibe once we have learnt to move beyond the boundaries of cricket fields that he breached with such precision and periodicity that has left us perplexed?
It is quite simple really. He was not the best because he was the best. He was the best quite simply because he wanted it the most. His story is fit to be studied in the best business schools. Maximizing of potential, work-life balance, family values, healthy lifestyle, emotional intelligence are some of the issues that are debated endlessly but rarely practised adequately. Indeed the keys to success are strewn all over, right through the days Donald George Bradman spent on earth.
His tale should be part of every school curriculum simply because there is no other saga quite so inspiring. A boy from the outback, who received his last education at the age of fourteen, went on to become the champion of champions, greater than the greatest. Forget those mean little stories, not because Don was human – or else he would have made those four runs in the end – but because they were written by little men on the lookout for greenbacks, or simply because they were green with envy. If he locked himself away from the public, he also gave back to them generously through that never ending torrent of letters like no one else has ever done. That is something conveniently forgotten.
This is a case fit to be examined by governments, particularly in countries like India. The boy from Bowral conquered Sydney and Lord’s because even in the 1920s there was a good system in place where he could hone his skills. He graduated from school competitions to Southern Tablelands competition to club cricket in Sydney to Sheffield Shield, on to the Test arena, as much due to his inherent skills and toil as due to the fact that he got a fair chance to excel in platforms that were available to him. The son of a humble carpenter was able to indulge in a multitude of sports – cricket, tennis, squash, athletics, golf, billiards – all his life because affordable facilities were accessible. Olympian deeds and Test records are achieved when there is a conducive environment. Academics are obviously important, but in the months that the weather gods are smiling, children should be outdoors, playing their favourite sports, not cramming for examinations. And what of the marketing men and advertising gurus who make a beeline for only one sport – even if it is cricket – and a handful of current superstars, and starlets who are the flavour of the season, to the detriment of balanced development. Social commitment, sense of balance, and a much wider spread of the largesse at their disposal, also needs to form an essential part of their agendas.
There is a cue for parents as well, not just in the manner of upbringing of their children, but also in the example they themselves set, and become role models for coming generations. The very idea of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, and a ‘me-too’ mindset, can only be abhorrent, and serious deterrents in the wholesome development of young, impressionable minds.
These are the mantras that emanate from the life of Sir Donald and Lady Jessie Bradman. All the runs, the double centuries and triple centuries, serve to illustrate the point. If certain life principles were good enough for the greatest batsman in history, surely they should form a fair guideline for anyone.
At the end of the day, when the stumps are finally drawn, Don Bradman shall remain the ultimate maestro. Let us leave it to Sir Jack Hobbs to sum up the magnitude of his achievements, which have long been impossible for acknowledged masters to even contemplate emulating: “He spoilt the game – he got too many runs.”
One’s repartee to this must be: “He spoilt us all for the number of runs he got.” That is Don Bradman’s enduring legacy that will – surely – stand the test of time. It might be his epitaph, read with awe when the world gathers to celebrate his double century, which for him on the field was not just a mark, but his very own hallmark.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com.
Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995
Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links:
A Maharaja’s Turf ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7
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