Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Recap of Don Bradman’s phenomenal Ashes tour of England in 1930. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’

It was a momentous tour. Having played a pivotal role in winning the Ashes, Bradman scored an unprecedented 974 runs in the series, still unequalled to this day, at an average of 139.14. He got all these runs at 40 an hour without hitting a six. Rarely did Bradman loft the ball. Some felt that this aggregate was the equivalent of Sydney Barnes’ feat of 49 wickets in four Tests against South Africa in 1913-14, but against better opposition. No other batsman from either side got even half of Bradman’s tally, nor even more than one hundred. Mammoth scores kept coming repeatedly from his willow like giant waves slapping the shore – a century, two double centuries and a triple century. The double hundreds decided the series. Without doubt the English would need to introspect deeply. C.B. Fry, himself a man of many parts and incredibly talented, was enchanted with Bradman’s display: “I wish I could have used my bat like Don. He is a gem of a batsman. I just love his finished technique and inevitable surety.”

As much as the runs that he scored, Bradman filled the counties’ coffers as never before. Jon Stock related a tale, perhaps apocryphal, in The Week: “Don was the bane of every bowler’s life, but he was also a commercial opportunity. Dai Davies, a Glamorgan player, recalls how he once came close to bowling Bradman in 1930. He was flabbergasted when instead of encouraging him, his captain Maurice Turnbull told Davies that his services wouldn’t be required that day. ‘But I’ll get him out the next over,’ Davies pleaded. ‘That’s what we don’t want,’ Turnbull replied. ‘Can’t you see, we’ve got to keep him in for Monday (the August bank holiday)?’ Glamorgan made a small profit at the end of that year thanks entirely to that game’s proceeds.”

By the final Test, his ninth, Bradman had reached an average of 100, and had as many as six three-figure knocks. His aggregate now stood at 1442 runs, the average 103. In all first-class matches during that tour of 1930, Bradman hit up 2960 runs, the most any visiting batsman has done, and notched up 10 hundreds. He topped the averages among all batsmen during that season at 98.66, which he did on all his tours to England. If anybody had lingering doubts about Bradman’s ability to cope with English conditions, they had been dispelled in the most vehement manner possible. From now on batting had only one don, perhaps forever. That Wisden selected Bradman as one of its cricketers of the year in its 1931 edition is only stating the obvious. A most telling comment came from the great allrounder Wilfred Rhodes, a shrewd judge of the game, and not one to shower praise lightly: “I bowled against all the best from 1900 to 1930 - Hobbs, Trumper, Grace and Ranji among them and many, many more - but Bradman was the greatest.”          

Ian Peebles, who bowled to Bradman during this series, wrote in the World of Cricket: “It was not until the series got underway that the cricket world gradually realised that this young man Bradman had inaugurated a new era and somewhat reinterpreted the old adage that ‘bowlers win matches’. Never before had an individual batsman so consistently given bowlers the opportunity of winning matches by the speed and extent of his scoring.”

Financially, the tour brought Bradman a bonanza. In addition to the ₤ 600 paid by The Board of Control for the six-month effort, which was easily double an average annual wage at the time, and the reward of ₤ 1000 bestowed on him by Arthur Whitelaw, was the contract for his first book Don Bradman’s Book of Cricket and its serialisation in the press. Bradman’s earnings came to a whopping ₤ 5000.

Don Bradman was now a folk hero in Australia, and he began receiving several offers for commercial endorsements. ‘Bradmania’ had besieged the minds of his countrymen. Whenever word spread that Bradman was at Mick Simmons, huge crowds would congregate outside. It was not long before a musical tribute was paid to him. ‘Our Don Bradman’ was an affectionate tune that became popular in the 1930s. Described as a ‘snappy fox trot song’, it hailed ‘Australia’s batting phenomenon’. Deft pianist that he was, Bradman himself composed a song ‘Every Day is a Rainbow Day for Me’.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email

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

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