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The greatest cricketer ever, and a down-to-earth human being
My first hero was Sir Donald Bradman, back in the 1940s. We had an old Aussie cap - my dad had got it somehow - and when my brother Graeme and I played cricket on our back lawn, we used to wear it while batting. Bradman was the ultimate hero, and Australia represented what was best in world cricket. As little kids, our ultimate dream was to beat Australia.
There were other heroes as well, among them Frank Tyson, who had a wonderful tour of Australia in 1954-55. Years later Bradman told me that he reckoned Tyson was the fastest bowler he had seen. I also liked Ray Lindwall, who I saw play in the first Test match I went to watch, in 1949.
As a youngster, before I eventually became a fast bowler, I was an opening batsman. Ridiculously enough, when my brother first came into our school's first team, he batted No. 8 or 9 and I was the opener. So naturally Bradman was a hero, and that never changed. His skills and results impressed me a lot. When I met him for the first time, in 1963 on South Africa's tour, I found him very helpful and very humble. One evening he showed Graeme and me pictures of the Bodyline series. It was such an experience.
To me, great players dominate the game - they go out there and make their presence felt. Bradman dominated the opposition. The fact that his legend has survived all these years is proof enough.
As told to Nagraj Gollapudi. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo MagazineFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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