India in Australia 2011-12 February 14, 2012

Tales of the Don

Neil Dansie was one of the last men to see Don Bradman get out from 22 yards away

Neil Dansie was one of the last men to see Don Bradman get out from 22 yards away. He is also one of the few alive who had played with both Bradman and Clarie Grimmett. Dansie, also known as Nodda for his habit of repeatedly nodding during conversations, was a 21-year-old when Bradman played his last game for his beloved club Kensington in January 1949, after which he played only two first-class games.

Dansie had cut his left index finger in a window accident when he was nine, which led to partial amputation, and later broke his right one while attempting a return catch, which he dropped. But it didn't affect his batting too much, because he loved the pull and cut more than the top-hand shots, unlike his hero Bradman, who didn't dissuade him from pulling or cutting. "Whatever you do don't stop playing that shot because you might get out sometimes, but you will score lots of runs," Bradman told Dansie, who scored 7543 runs in first-class cricket, but missed out on playing for Australia.

There are some lovely stories Dansie recounts about Bradman. The first one comes from that match he played with Bradman, his last for Kensington. "I was only a young boy then," Dansie recollects. "When I first played with him, I sat in a corner, I didn't say anything. Just sat there and listened to him.

"When I came in, he was batting, he met me a few yards away, and he said - he called me sonny - 'Sonny I'll let you have a look at him [the bowler] for a while'. I never faced a ball for the first six overs. He would just pick a single off the last ball. Then, he'd take a single in the middle of the over, and I'd get two-three balls."

At that point, the new ball was shortly due and the Port Adelaide fast bowler was stationed at mid-on. "He hit the ball twice past him - not too powerfully - so that it stopped a yard inside the boundary. We ran two fours, and he said to me, 'Sonny that will take a yard or two off his pace'."

The end of Bradman's innings was swift. Dansie says: "He played a spin bowler - first ball after drinks, he played for the spin and it just went off the faintest edge. They appealed, all the crowd booed the umpire, clapped him off and went off to the local hotel, and they didn't come back."

Dansie's association with Bradman continued later too, when the former became a South Australia selector. "Sir Don said to me, 'Never tell anybody they are going to be picked for the team - that they are the next person to be picked - because if someone has an injury or something happens you will have to pick an entirely different person to whom you have told. It is disappointing for the person. It could happen, couldn't it? If a batsman gets injured…'"

One of the funnier stories he remembers about Bradman involves a letter he got from India. "He replied to every letter he got," Dansie says. "He tells a very funny story. He got a letter from a boy in India who said: 'My brother and I are having an argument. We want you to decide who is right. I say you are alive, my brother says you are dead. Please write back and tell us who is right.'

"He [Bradman] replied, 'I think I am alive.'"

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on February 21, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Great little piece. We need more of those, because it won't be too long before there will be nobody lefhat ever saw him play!

  • testli5504537 on February 19, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    There are so few people left who played with the Don.Thanks for sharing your comments.The Don---simply the greatest batsman who ever lived.It irritates me when people say some present day batsmen may be challenging the Don.Over a career that lasted over 20 years stats don"t lie---Test average--99. First Class average---95

  • testli5504537 on February 15, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Not just an amazing Cricketer, but an great character. Whenever people would look at his record, they would talk in awe, what a fine cricketer. However, one needs to tell these kind of stories more often to reflect his other side, which tells how he cricketers around him benefited with the immense talent he had. People like Sir Don Bradman don't die, they live in our memories forever,.....I think

  • testli5504537 on February 15, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    Good. Enjoyed. Pl write if there is more.

  • testli5504537 on February 15, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    Yes Don, Wherever you are, your still alive, and thanks for all those memories....!!!!

  • testli5504537 on February 15, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    Quite an impressive lil stories about the most impressive batsman ever in cricketing world. Really touched to read how he cared for a debutant career and guided him practically on field. I bet this attitude you will never come across any players in any ERA.

  • testli5504537 on February 14, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    Very refreshing to hear the class of don and how he went about his cricket.

  • testli5504537 on February 14, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    It is really funny that Bradman had to reply that he is alive. But this is very honest at Bradman not to ignore that boy from India. Bradman is absolutely a true legend whom we are making unnecessary comparison against Lara and Sachin.

  • testli5504537 on February 14, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    i like the last line of the article very much from" the lord of the game"...." I THINK I AM ALIVE "....

  • testli5504537 on February 14, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    that is so amazing of the Great Sir Don Bradman..... Mr Dansie thanks for sharing with us...

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