Centenary of The Don's birth offers another occasion for respect August 26, 2008

Family in awe of modern love for Bradman

Cricinfo staff


John Bradman (far left), Tom Bradman (back) and Greta Bradman (far right) stand with John Howard, Australia's former prime minister, at the 2000 Bradman Oration © Getty Images
 

The son of Don Bradman says he continues to be "astounded" by the amount of affection directed towards his late father. In the lead-up to Wednesday's centenary of Bradman's birth, John Bradman spoke about the interest that surrounded the hero, cricketer, administrator and family member.

"We are extremely proud of him, proud of his achievements, but more proud of him as a person, for the way he coped with those achievements," John Bradman told AAP. "In that respect he was absolutely remarkable.

"We're very touched that people continue to remember him as they do, so long after he retired from playing cricket. I suppose it [the level of interest] does astound us, it always astounded him. He couldn't understand why people still remembered him so long after he'd finished playing."

Bradman's final Test occurred 60 years ago at The Oval, but his legend grew the longer his average of 99.94 remained so far out of reach of the game's greats. He died in 2001 aged 92 and there was an outpouring of grief in Australia and other parts of the cricket-playing world.

Since then Bradman's name has lived on through his numbers, stories, museum, place names and various exhibitions. Last week the Bradman Collection was opened in the Sir Donald Bradman Stand at the Adelaide Oval. The items had been moved across from the South Australian state library to settle in the ground Bradman made his home after switching states in the mid-1930s.

John Bradman said his father was a "chucker-outer" and it was his mother Jessie who nurtured the collection. "She was very keen on keeping family things together," he said. "The most distinctive thing about the collection is that the entire collection comes from the Bradman family home, and that is how my father wanted it to remain. I played with this stuff in the backyard, which people now handle with white gloves, so it is very precious to our family."

One of the pieces is a rug of the Australian crest that came from John Bradman's floor. "I remember being in the collection at the library and there were people talking in hushed tones about the pale patches on the green rug as if it was blessed by aliens," he said. "I didn't upset them by quietly mentioning it was where my little dog had weed."

On Wednesday John Bradman will attend a lunch at the Melbourne Cricket Club and a dinner in Sydney before visiting Cootamundra, the New South Wales town where the batsman was born in 1908, on Friday. Ricky Ponting is due to give the Bradman Oration at the function in Sydney while Bradman's grand-daughter Greta will sing at both the major events to mark the centenary.

"It's almost like he's separate from the game," Ponting said. "His name and what he achieved, it's so far out of any player's reach, in his time or any player who has played since, it's almost like he played a different game to what we're playing. He would have been the stand-out player whatever generation he played in."

Ponting met Bradman when he was a 15-year-old at the Academy in Adelaide. "It was an amazing experience," he said. "The first thing that struck you was his stature. He was quite a short, little guy and very quietly spoken. But everyone in that room was in awe and everyone was sitting on the edge of their seat taking in everything he would say."