June 16, 2001

Bradman family distance themselves from issuer of 'memorial caps'

The family of the late Sir Donald Bradman, along with his official charity, have distanced themselves from the issue of "Bradman memorial caps" to six leading international cricketers.

The Bradman Foundation, in a statement issued on behalf of Sir Donald's family on Friday, said that they were "appalled" at the actions of the issuer of the caps, book publisher Tom Thompson, who they said had done so without authority, as well as publishing private comments said to have been made to him by Sir Donald several years ago.

Last Sunday, Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan was presented with a "Bradman Art of Cricket Cap" at Old Trafford, where he is playing county cricket this season for Lancashire. The maroon cap, said to be based on that of the St George club in Sydney, where Bradman played from 1926 to 1932, was stated one of fifty made in 1998, and to be given, according to Thompson, "to cricketers who played attractive cricket, advancing the game throughout the world". Muralitharan was the sixth player to be issued with such a cap, the first four being handed out to Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh in April, with the fifth being issued to Brian Lara.

As part of the presentation, Thompson quoted Bradman as giving praise for the Sri Lankan. "Murali, for me, shows perhaps the highest discipline of any spin bowler since the war", Thompson said that Bradman had told him before his death earlier this year.

On Thursday, the "Times of India" newspaper reported that Thompson had given then further insights into Bradman's thoughts on Muralitharan. Referring to the 1995 Test in Melbourne where Muralitharan was called by Darrell Hair for throwing, Sir Donald was said to have described the umpire's actions as "so distasteful." "I believe Hair's action, in one over, took the development of world cricket back ten years," Bradman was reported as having said to Thompson in private conversation.

It was after reports of Bradman's alleged comments about Hair appeared in the Australian press that the Bradman Foundation and the Bradman family issued their statement yesterday afternoon. "Mr Tom Thompson has no right or authority whatsoever to make statements on behalf of, or represent that his conduct and products have the approval of or originate from, the late Sir Donald Bradman," the statement read.

"Such actions of exploitation for personal gain, so soon after Sir Donald's death, are deeply distressing for The Bradman Foundation and family," the statement from the Bradman Foundation continued.

According to the Bradman Foundation, Thompson's connection with Sir Donald is limited to holding the rights to publish new editions of two of the legendary batsman's books - his 1950 autobiography "Farewell to Cricket", and his 1958 coaching book "The Art of Cricket". The caps issued to the six international players bear the title of Sir Donald's coaching manual as part of their design.

"Under no circumstances does this limited connection authorise Mr Thompson to engage in his recent conduct," the Foundation said. The Foundation, in conjunction with Sir Donald's family, said that they were seeking legal advice on the situation.

The Bradman Foundation was founded in 1986 as a charitable organisation and is the registered owner, and the applicant for registration, of a number of trade marks relating to the late Sir Donald Bradman, in Australia and other countries. Bradman gave to the Foundation, as the trustee of the "Bradman Museum Trust", the authority to use and authorise the use of, his name and likeness, including use which suggests endorsement, sponsorship, relationship and/or other association.