Sir Don Bradman averaged 99.94 in 52 Tests and he smashed 29 centuries, which included two triple tons. (Image credit: News Nation)
In modern day cricket, people are talking about the exploits of Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root. The quartet are redefining batting and are thrilling audiences worldwide with their dazzling, aggressive and stylish strokeplay. Before the quartet, there was the legendary exploits of Sachin Tendulkar who established himself as the gold standard of batting. However, even Sachin Tendulkar takes a backseat and every other batsmen takes a back seat when compares them to THIS individual. He would have turned 111 on August 27. His batting exploits redefined the way cricket was played. He will forever be remembered for this figure of 99.94. This average is unlikely to be surpassed in history. He made 29 hundreds in 70 innings. He made double centuries and triple centuries on a regular basis. Today is the birthday of perhaps the greatest-ever cricketer in history. There is no debate on his greatness. Today is the birthday of Sir Donald George Bradman.
Everybody knows about how Bradman honed his skills by batting with a stump and a golf ball on a water tank. However, there are some records which modern batsmen, with big bats, flat wickets and small grounds have still not been able to achieve and that is what makes Bradman a persona who trascends eras and establishes his greatness.
First, his tally of 974 runs in a single series which took place in the 1930 Ashes in England. He made scores of 131, 254, 334 and 232 and England were so spooked by Bradman's dominance that they invented the theory of Bodyline in the 1932/33 series. Despite a barrage of bouncers on the body and on leg stump, Bradman stil averaged 56 in that series. The tally of 974 runs has never been broken in 142 years of Test cricket. In the modern era, Virat Kohli missed the mark by one run when he hit 973 runs. However, that was in the IPL and it took him 16 innings.
Bradman also scored 300 runs in a single day. In the match against England in Leeds, Bradman scored a century before lunch and by the end of the day, his run-making prowess was so brilliant that he ended up on 309. In the modern era with supersonic run-scoring due to Twenty20s, Bradman's feat has never been equalled although Virender Sehwag came close with 293 runs in a single day.
Even as captain, Bradman achieved something historic. In the 1936/37 series, Australia had lost the first two Tests and were staring at humiliation In the third Test at Melbourne, with rain making the conditions different, Australia declared at 200/9 and England declared on 76/9. With the pitch assisting the pacers, Bradman decided to reverse the batting order. The move worked and when the conditions eased out, Bradman shared a 346-run stand with Jack Fingleton for the seventh wicket. The move by Bradman helped Australia win the third Test by 365 runs.
A lot of people remember Sir Don Bradman for his extraordinary batting; I remember him more for his graciousness and sense of humour that I experienced when I had the privilege of spending some time with him in 1998. pic.twitter.com/pF1KJ7S9Fq— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) August 27, 2019
The revival at Melbourne saw Australia winning the next two Tests by a margin of 148 and by an innings and 200 runs. Bradman thus became the first captain in history to win a series after being 0-2 down. This feat has not been matched in all these years of Test cricket. Bradman hurt the old enemy on a regular basis, scoring 5028 runs against them at an average of close to 90.
Many people will stamp Bradman's greatness for the average of 99.94. However, for all his exploits, Bradman will forever be the greatest batsman the cricketing world has ever seen. There can be no debate on that. Heck, when you go to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation office, the postal code is 9994. Such is his greatness.