Why the legend of Sir Donald Bradman endures to this day

Why the legend of Sir Donald Bradman endures to this day
Auctioneer Charles Leski holds up the first cricket bat used by Sir Donald Bradman in his Test career, which was auctioned off in Melbourne on September 24, 2008. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 14 July 2022

Why the legend of Sir Donald Bradman endures to this day

Why the legend of Sir Donald Bradman endures to this day
  • Phenomenal hand and eye coordination, anticipation, concentration, nimble footwork and balance made the Australian batsman an unparalleled cricketer

Sir Donald Bradman’s Test match average of 99.94, mentioned in last week’s column, has raised the question as to why he was so much better than anyone else. There have been numerous attempts to provide an answer, even by himself.

Bradman, born in 1908, spent his early years in small agricultural communities south of Sydney where, outside of school, he was left with time to fill. He was a fan of cricket, derived from his family, but had no equipment. Improvisation was necessary. His legend began in one-man cricket. Within a three-sided barn was a water tank supported by two, small, brick walls. Time after time, the young Bradman threw an old golf ball at one of the walls and tried to hit the rebounding ball with a stump. Once this feat had been mastered, he introduced another one, by throwing the golf ball at a rail 10 meters away, trying to hit or catch the ball on the rebound. In order to succeed at this, great throwing accuracy is required, coupled with anticipation and swift footwork, as the ball would come off at unpredictable angles.

Bradman will not have been the only young boy to have engaged in such attempts to sharpen reflexes. No doubt, some, having read about Bradman’s drills, will have followed their own. Mine involved throwing a tennis ball at the angled blue brick, which formed the damp proofing for the house about half a meter from the ground, aiming to catch the ball as it rebounded unpredictably. This did serve to sharpen my reactions, but not anyway near Bradman’s levels.

These were evident when he began playing for his local club, for which he scored over 200, aged 17 in 1925. His levels of concentration were also remarkable, whilst he excelled at other sports, especially tennis. The cricket pitches in his home area were made of concrete with matting laid on top that led to extra bounce for the ball. Bradman adopted a grip to his bat handle which was designed to enable him to keep the ball down when playing shots, making maximum advantage of the supple wrists he had developed in his boyhood drills. This was to be a remarkable feature throughout his career, during which he only hit six sixes in his 52 Test matches and no sixes in 234 first-class matches.

Only limited footage of his batting exists. It is not of good quality. Hence, an assessment of his abilities relies largely on those who played with and against him and those who reported. One measure of his ability is that in 1932-33, in Australia, England’s captain decided to deploy the infamous “bodyline” strategy. This was designed to reduce Bradman’s scoring opportunities by bowling fast at his body. Despite this tactic, he averaged 56.6. Harold Larwood, England’s chief exponent of bodyline, said that only someone with phenomenal sight and footwork could play some of the shots which Bradman did in attempting to counteract bodyline in a series of unorthodox, daring, innings.

Off the field, Bradman was regarded by some as aloof; to others he was reserved, as befits his country upbringing. His relations with his players, as captain, was not always harmonious. He did not drink or smoke, which reduced participation in social events. Yet, he was in constant demand for speeches and dinners. After retiring from cricket, he combined cricket administration with the running of a number of successful businesses. Throughout it all, Bradman retained the undying affection and respect of the Australian public.

The player who, so far, has achieved the next highest average to Bradman from anyone who has completed at least 20 Test match innings is Adam Voges, with 61.87. His name does not feature in many conversations about great cricketers. This is hardly surprising since he did not make his debut for Australia until he was 35 in 2015. In his first 20 innings, he achieved an average of 95.50. It seemed that the impossible might be about to happen, Bradman being eclipsed. However, Voges could not maintain the momentum and was dropped from the team in 2016, never to return. It felt as if he had done something wrong in even getting that close to Bradman.

Australians are likely to have more sympathy with a current player and former captain, Steve Smith, who displays some resemblances to Bradman. These stretch to an obsession with the game from an early age that was based on developing a home-spun, unique, unorthodox style. His fidgeting at the crease is off-putting and eccentric but his average has now reached 60, although it is unlikely to go much higher. One player who might have challenged Bradman was the South African Barry Richards. He played only four Test matches before the apartheid ban on his country in 1970 brought a premature end to his international career. He possessed prodigious talent and it is reported that while qualifying to play county cricket in England, he found playing in the second’s team so easy that he scored a hundred by using only the edge of his bat.

There are others who have boasted similar skill and personality sets to Bradman. Sachin Tendulkar, with 51 Test match centuries, 931 runs and an average of 53.78, is considered a cricketing great. One difference in Bradman’s era is that there was no limited overs cricket to distract from a focus on Test matches. The athleticism of fielding was not so pronounced, although Bradman was reported to be a fine and aggressive fielder.

It seems that in his case, phenomenal hand and eye coordination, superb anticipation, great concentration, nimble footwork, balance, fitness of mind and body, an uncanny sense of anticipating what the bowler was going to do and an unorthodoxy in handling the bat, all combined to make him an unparalleled cricketer. Bradman, himself, when asked why no one played like him, said that they had been coached not to, suggesting that his self-taught, somewhat mysterious style could not be replicated. It is unlikely to be surpassed.


‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
Updated 13 August 2022

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
  • The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus

BERLIN: Eighteen-year-old Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens scored one and created another as Borussia Dortmund came back to defeat Freiburg 3-1 on Friday with all their goals coming in the last 13 minutes of the game.

With the game drifting toward defeat, Dortmund were again able to rely on their young brigade, with Bynoe-Gittens and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko scoring two quick goals to see the visitors pick up a valuable three points in their quest for a sixth Bundesliga title.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic lauded his side’s depth and praised “game-changer” Bynoe-Gittens.

“With him, it’s pretty simple — he’s got the skills to decide games,” said Terzic.

“He’s a game-changer and (I told him when he came on) I wanted to see that from him.

“We fought back, scored three goals through three substitutes and showed how good the squad is.”

The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus.

Reus teed up Modeste to run into the left side of the penalty box in the 20th minute, forcing Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken into a save.

Modeste also had a chance right in front in the 32nd minute after superb one touch football from Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerreiro, but the Portuguese’s cross was inches too high.

As if stunned into action, Freiburg then flipped a switch, building pressure on a suddenly shaky Dortmund defense.

Roland Sallai won a free kick on the edge of the box with 33 minutes played.

Dead-ball specialist Vincenzo Grifo stepped up to force a fingertip save from Gregor Kobel in goal.

Freiburg took the lead minutes later, when former Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter found Michael Gregoritsch who deftly drifted a header over Kobel and into the top right corner of the goal.

Terzic turned to youth halfway through the second half, bringing on Bynoe-Gittens and Moukoko to introduce some potency to Dortmund’s attack.

Known more for his dribbling and assists, the Englishman equalized with a stunning strike from outside the box.

While his shot was helped by a poor attempted save from Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken, the goal spurred Bynoe-Gittens and Dortmund into action

The former Manchester City academy player had a chance to put his side in front after 82 minutes, but was unable to control a sharp Marius Wolf pass with the goal begging.

He then set up Dortmund’s second just a minute later when he slalomed past several Freiburg defenders on the edge of the area before delivering a no-look pass to Julian Brandt.

Brandt, who had also been brought on by Terzic in the second half, found Moukoko in the box, with the teenager whipping in from close range.

Wolf, another who was subbed on in the second half, then put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, striking powerfully across goalkeeper Flekken and into the bottom left corner of the net.

The game was manager Terzic’s ninth win in a row in charge of Dortmund, breaking a record set by former mentor Juergen Klopp a decade ago.

The loss continues a poor run of home form for Freiburg recently, with the Breisgauer now conceding 16 goals in their last six games at Europa Park Stadium.

Despite the loss, Freiburg manager Christian Streich said he was impressed by his side’s “unlucky” performance.

“We played a good game, I’m satisfied,” he said.

“Ultimately we lost, it’s a shame... but it doesn’t achieve anything to think we were unlucky to lose the game.”


Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
Updated 13 August 2022

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
  • Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min

PARIS: Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was omitted from the 30-man list of nominees for the prestigious award on Friday for the first time since 2005.

The Argentina great edged out Poland striker Robert Lewandowski for the Ballon d’Or last year but wasn’t nominated this time after an underwhelming first season at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 35-year-old forward also won the prize in 2019 — it was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neymar also missed the cut this time.

Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Alexia Putellas, Ada Hegerberg, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema were on the list of 20 female nominees. US players Alex Morgan, Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman were also named.

The men’s list features six Manchester City players: Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, and new signing Haaland (formerly Borussia Dortmund).

Liverpool also has six nominees: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Darwin Nunez, Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Mane, who helped Senegal win their first African Cup before leaving Liverpool for Bayern Munich, is included, as is Bayern teammate Joshua Kimmich.

Benzema leads a group of six Real Madrid players. The others are Casemiro, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and new signing Antonio Rudiger.

The other nominated players are Sebastien Haller (Ajax), Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan (both of AC Milan), Christopher Nkunku (Leipzig), and Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus).

The award will be presented on Oct. 17.

Among changes announced in March, the award is now being awarded based on performances over the course of a regular European season, rather than a calendar year. A reduction in the number of voters was among other changes, with the goal of streamlining the process. Voters also will no longer consider a player’s career accomplishments.

France Football magazine has given out the award to men every year since 1956 and to women each year since 2018 — when Hegerberg became the first female winner — though both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award last year. Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Aitana Bonmati was also nominated.

Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead — who helped England win the European Championship — were included.

France has four players on the list: Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Wendie Renard.

The other nominated women are Christiane Endler, Lena Oberdorf, Asizat Oshoala, Alexandra Popp and Fridolina Rolfo.


Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
Updated 12 August 2022

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
  • The former number one made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager
  • Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semi-finals in just under two hours

TORONTO, Canada: Simona Halep served twice for her match against Coco Gauff without success on Friday before finally securing a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) quarter-final victory at the WTA Toronto Masters.
The former number one, a two-time winner in Canada, made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager who just missed a chance at cracking the world ranking top-10 for the first time.
Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semifinals in just under two hours.
Double Grand Slam champion Halep earned her leading 183rd match win at the Masters 1000 level. She now owns 36 victories in 2022.
Gauff fired a backhand into the net on Halep’s first match point to end the encounter and lose her eighth straight set against the 30-year-old Romanian.
On Saturday, Halep will play her 29th Masters semifinal against the winner of a later match between US seventh seed Jessica Pegula or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.


Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats
Updated 12 August 2022

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats
  • "Willian asked us for his (contract) termination," said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves
  • "Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn't play well, my family received threats and insults on social media," Willian told the Globo Esporte website

SAO PAULO: Former Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder Willian quit Corinthians on Friday following the Brazilians’ Copa Libertadores elimination against domestic rivals Flamengo, after claiming he and his family received death threats on social media.
“Willian asked us for his (contract) termination. We are sad not to have him anymore and also because it didn’t go the way we expected. But we have to keep those here that are happy,” said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves.
It was only a year ago that the 34-year-old only rejoined the club where he made his professional debut in 2006. Local media have linked him with a move to promoted English Premier League side Fulham.
The return to Corinthians in Sao Paulo quickly turned sour for Willian both on the pitch where he scored one goal in 45 matches, and off it.
“Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn’t play well, my family received threats and insults on social media. My wife, my children, recently they also started attacking my father, my sister,” Willian told the Globo Esporte website.
“I didn’t play as well as I expected but I was never a player who scored 20 or 30 goals a season,” he told ESPN Brasil on Wednesday.
Willian, who also played for Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine and Russians Anzhi Makhachkala, leaves the club three days after they were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals by Flamengo, 3-0 on aggregate.


Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header

Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header
Updated 12 August 2022

Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header

Stage set for Formula E season finale with Seoul E-Prix double-header
  • Season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will climax in South Korea with rounds 15 and 16 this weekend
  • Four drivers still in contention for the title as Formula E makes its South Korean debut on specially designed track

SEOUL: Season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will climax in South Korea this weekend with the 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix, where the champion driver and team will be crowned and the world’s first all-electric motorsport series will mark 100 races.
Eleven teams and 22 drivers have competed in Formula E’s biggest racing season to date with rounds 15 and 16 to come this Saturday and Sunday, and four drivers still in contention for the title at the top of the standings.
It will be the first time Formula E has raced in South Korea with the E-Prix taking place on a unique track constructed around and even looping through the Jamsil Olympic Stadium, the first world championship sporting event held at the venue since the Olympic Games in 1988.
Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way for Mercedes-EQ in a bid to make it back-to-back wins following their Drivers’ and Teams’ World Championship success last year in season seven.
The Belgian extended his lead to 36 points over nearest rival Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) during the SABIC London E-Prix two weeks ago that saw his closest competitors falter.
While Vandoorne has achieved only one win this season compared with three each for Evans and Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) in third place, Vandoorne has the most podium finishes and has scored on 13 occasions, taking the honor from Daniel Abt as the most consistent points finisher in a campaign.
Vandoorne’s last four rounds have all yielded top-four finishes and a pair of podiums: The gauntlet has been thrown by the Mercedes-EQ driver.
Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) had worked his way into closest contention of top spot, but a technical problem in London put a huge dent in his chances. The Kiwi was on track to pin Vandoorne back to a 22-point lead, but an inverter problem at the end of round 14 forced him to retire.
In third and fourth, respectively, Edoardo Mortara and DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne have it all to do.
Mortara topped the standings at the halfway stage of the season after a run of two wins and two more podiums in Berlin and Jakarta. Since then, the Swiss has managed only two low-scoring points finishes in New York City and a pair of non-scores in London, but he remains just five points back from Evans.
Similarly, Vergne has hit his worst-ever run in Formula E, with four consecutive blanks for the first time in the championship. While it is an uncharacteristic return from the Frenchman, JEV is the only driver in the top four to have won the world championship — twice — and experience could still earn a place on the podium.
In the team championship race, Mercedes-EQ stretched its lead in London, with silverware for both de Vries and Vandoorne.
Back-to-back titles look to be on with a 36-point margin on ROKiT Venturi Racing in second, with DS Techeetah behind the Monegasque outfit by 11 points.
On Sunday, the second race of the 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix double-header will be Formula E’s 100th E-Prix, also marking the end of the Gen2 era, the second version of Formula E race car.
The centenary E-Prix will mark three major generational leaps in EV technology and industry-leading sustainability achievements ahead of the debut in season nine of the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car built yet, the Gen3.