‘The Boy from Bowral’ - Don Bradman’s journey through junior cricket to the first-class level

Even at the junior level, Don Bradman was scoring runs by the ton
Even at the junior level, Don Bradman was scoring runs by the ton

Having notched up his first double hundred for Bowral against Wingello when he faced Bill O’Reilly, Don Bradman went on to score 105 and 120. Then came the final of the Berrima District competition against Moss Vale.

Don’s mother Emily, devoted as she was, promised him a new bat if he scored a century. Imagine her surprise, and delight, when her son scored 300 in the match held over five successive Saturdays.

Don earned his gift with ease, and this was really a prelude at the local level to his exploits on the highest stage in the period 1927-30, and thereafter till 1948.

The Sydney newspapers sat up and began reporting his prodigious feats. Bradman now went rapidly through the mill. At 18, during the 1926-27 season, he was called up for a junior trial at the Sydney Cricket Ground and he scored an unbeaten 37.

🧢 52 Tests🏏 6,996 runs💯 29 hundreds🙌 99.94 average#OnThisDay in 1908, the greatest batsman in the history of the game, Sir Don Bradman, was born.

He was invited to play cricket as well as tennis for the Southern Team in the Country Cricket Week in Sydney. As his employers could not spare him for too long, Don once again chose cricket.

First-grade cricket in Sydney was the next step up the ladder the same season. St. George Club commissioned Bradman, paying him 30 shillings a week. With the return fare to Sydney being 8 shillings 6 pence, it was a good deal provided he made the entire trip the same day.

So, at dawn each Saturday, he would rise before 5 AM, catch the train to the big city 70 miles away, play the game, and be back home in Bowral, at times around midnight.

Teenaged Don Bradman was an instant hit in Sydney’s first-grade cricket

#OnThisDay in 1908, a legend was born.52 Tests, 6,996 runs, 29 centuries, 13 fifties, a high score of 334.An unmatched average of 99.94.The one and only, Sir Don Bradman.

The talented and hard-toiling young Bradman was an instant hit as he blazed to 110 at run-a-minute strike-rate in his maiden appearance. So impressive were his performances that Bradman was picked to play for New South Wales second XI against Victoria.

He held his own there as well, scoring 43. There was little doubt that Don Bradman held rare promise.

Success eluded him during the onset of the 1927-28 season, but only briefly. Bradman scored centuries for St. George Club and for a combined St. George Club - University team.

Fate played a part again when two members of the New South Wales Sheffield Shield side pulled out, and Bradman got his break in first-class cricket. There was no looking back from then on.

Sir Don Bradman was identified as a rare talent from the junior cricket level itself (Image: ICC on Twitter)
Sir Don Bradman was identified as a rare talent from the junior cricket level itself (Image: ICC on Twitter)

Don Bradman took the field for New South Wales against South Australia at Adelaide, and scored a century on debut. His 118 came in a little over three hours.

Bradman rounded off the season by carving an unbeaten 134 off the Victoria attack at Sydney. In five first-class matches that season, he notched up 416 runs at an average of 46.22. They now called him ‘The Boy from Bowral’.

English batsman Patsy Hendren thought he had seen splendid talent:

“I could tell that day that New South Wales had discovered another champion. Don was a cordial kid who seemed to love batting more than anything in life, even more than fielding along the boundary, in which he also took great joy.”

It was a promising start for the 19-year-old, but what was to follow was simply astounding. The legend of Bradman was about to unravel.

(Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’).

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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