There were no Test matches in Australia during the season of 1929-30. Arthur Gilligan’s MCC (as England was known while touring) side stopped by to play a few first-class matches en-route to New Zealand for the inaugural Test series there.
Totally focused on the first-class game, Don Bradman broke Bill Ponsford’s world record score of 437 made two seasons earlier. He scored 452* in just 415 minutes, with the help of 49 boundaries, for New South Wales against Queensland at Sydney.
In all the years since then, this score has been passed only twice; by Hanif Mohammad, who was run out for 499 in 1958-59; and Brian Lara, who was undefeated with 501 in 1994. Bradman amassed 1,586 runs during that 1929-30 season at an average of 113.28 with five centuries from just 11 matches.
KS Duleepsinhji, after whom the Duleep Trophy is named, was in Gilligan’s team. He, along with his teammates, was constantly accosted for his opinion on this new star, Don Bradman.
KS Duleepsinhji made a hasty judgement on Don Bradman
Nearly a quarter century later, Duleepsinhji wrote in the Indian Cricketer Annual:
“We, of the 1929-30 touring team, most of us not much older than Bradman himself, believed that Bradman was not likely to do well on the wet wickets of England, owing to his tendency to play with a slightly crooked bat at the time of impact with the ball, besides his fondness for gliding a ball off the leg-stump to fine-leg and driving the ball (that) pitched almost on the middle-stump, past mid-on.”
“We considered that these strokes would prove fatal. In judging Bradman’s prospects in England, we did not reckon with the immaturity of our youthful judgement, the genius of Bradman, and the practice of covering wickets in county matches during Australian tours for financial reasons.
“We had no doubt that Bradman would make centuries in Test cricket, but I must confess that in 1929, I was not prepared for his incredible successes and triumphs over 20 years during which he was easily the most dominating personality in the game.”
How wrong the pundits were in their early judgement of Don Bradman is well chronicled. Duleepsinhji came up against Bradman at Lords’ in the second Test of the 1930 series.
Duleepsinhji scored 173 on his Ashes debut. Bradman’s repost was a brilliant 254 which is considered his finest innings. This is not forgetting that Bradman had scored a century in the first Test at Trent Bridge.
Bradman went on score a triple century in a day in the third Test at Headingley, and clinched the Ashes with a superb double century in the fifth Test at The Oval.
Critics of Don Bradman’s batsmanship were silenced forever.
(Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’).
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