Australian cricket August 17, 2008

Bradman's 'official' letters discovered

Cricinfo staff

Don Bradman felt the lbw law should be tweaked so that batsmen are given out for deliveries that pitch outside off and leg stump, provided they don't offer a shot © AFP

Private letters written by Don Bradman, largely to former Australian board chairman Bob Parish, have been discovered by Cricket Australia just days before his birth centenary on August 27. The subjects of the letters range from the ban on tours to South Africa during the apartheid era, remuneration for players, and World Series Cricket.

Bradman was an administrator of the game for 35 years. In 1960 he was appointed the Australian board chairman - he served another term later that decade - and dealt with problems like chucking and apartheid during his tenure.

The letters, published in several Australian papers on Sunday, reveal Bradman favoured giving bowlers a fairer deal as he suggests the lbw law be tweaked so that batsmen are given out for deliveries that pitch outside off and leg stump, provided they don't offer a shot.

Bradman wrote against a move to get the Australian government to intervene in the television rights issue that cropped up during Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (he described Packer's media promotions"propaganda"). He wrote to Parish: "I would not willingly support any move to have government interference in TV rights, which may control Packer because, as I have said many times before, it would inevitably bring control of the fees that may be paid."

The ban on touring South Africa, Bradman wrote, had moved cricket from the sporting basket and in to the political basket. "... not of our wish or doing, but by fate". In April 1978 he wrote to South African cricket chief Joe Pamensky: 'Unfortunately I am despondent in believing that although your cricketers have done everything you can in S.A., ... countries will now come out with the verdict, the political verdict, that they can't play in S.A. so long as Apartheid is government policy. Regrettable too, our Prime Minister, gives the impression he thinks the same way ...

"I think you will get a good and sympathetic hearing from the cricket fraternity in London but what use is that if the powers that be won't let tours take place ..."

Evidence of his foresight lies in a letter on the problem of throwing in cricket. Bradman writes that it would be crazy to return to an earlier situation where there was no definition for throwing. "Those who claim recent events may have rectified the trouble may well be right - IN THE SHORT TERM [sic]. But in 10-20 years it would certainly return and be a bogey once more, and I think our responsibility is to provide now against such a contingency." According to Bradman, the best way to test a bowler's action is during a match where he is bowling flat out and does not know he is being filmed.