Recounting on his 108th birth anniversary, how Bradman’s batting brought solace to people during The Great Depression. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’

Coming Out To BatWhile Bradman was making his entry into the record books, a significant event that was to cast its shadow for more than a decade, was occurring on the other side of the globe. The United States of America, having experienced great prosperity in the 1920s, post World War I, saw soaring exports and booming stock markets, but much of the shares bought with borrowed money.

This bubble that had consequently been created, burst on October 29, 1929, a day that came to be known as ‘Black Tuesday’. The stock market on Wall Street collapsed. Countless fortunes were lost. The ripple effect engulfed the entire United States, and then the world. Banks failed, businesses and factories closed, and international trade came to a virtual standstill. The markets kept plunging and bottomed out only after three years.

It is believed that 30 million people lost their jobs, half of them in the United States. Australia too took a big hit as nearly one-third of the people found themselves out of employment, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by as much as 25 percent. The Great Depression had set in. It was a period of great economic hardship that lasted more than a decade.

It was exactly during this time leading to the Second World War that Bradman regaled the crowds with his magical 2 lb 2 oz bat. People thronged to the grounds to watch his run-sprees, as much as to forget their own miseries. His deeds brought solace to the multitude that watched, heard or read about his exploits. In Australia there was the added glee of giving a hiding to the imperial masters, who protected the interests of their own merchants at the cost of the toiling masses.

The impact of Bradman’s peerless accomplishments went far beyond providing entertainment and transmitting the joys of sporting excellence. His record-breaking feats helped lift, at least temporarily, the gloom in people’s lives, and enabled them to escape into a less depressing world. When there was darkness all around, Bradman was one bright light that offered hope and instilled the courage to battle on. For many, Bradman became the very reason and purpose for their existence.

Someone who has come close to replicating the joy that Bradman spread has been India’s Sachin Tendulkar. There has not been a more loved character in recent times than Tendulkar, nor one who people want to see succeed as much as he.

When it was later pointed out to The Don that he had helped so many cope with the pain of the Great Depression, he merely replied, “I don’t know. I was too busy playing cricket.” Indeed he was, and so focussed was he on the field that the only things that mattered to him were runs on the board and victory for his team.

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

Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla)

Don's Century cover (front)Don’s Century

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

Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3 Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567, Email varietybookdepot@gmail.com.

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