1931 April 24, 2010

Bradman blitz at Blackheath

When the great man scored a hundred in three eight-ball overs, spanning around 18 minutes

Few would ever question that Don Bradman is one of sport's - not just cricket's - most remarkable individuals. Rarely has one man so dominated his field and emerged head and shoulders above his peers. But he had, and continues to have, his critics, those who argue he was a batsman who did not take chances and who amassed runs rather than scored them in the more cavalier method of someone like his great rival Wally Hammond.

And yet when the occasion demanded, Bradman could open up and cut an attack to shreds. On Monday, November 2, 1931, he and New South Wales team-mate Wendell Bill travelled into the Blue Mountains, about 60 miles from Sydney, to play in a match to open a new malthoid pitch at Blackheath, the first in the district. The two star names were included in the Blackheath XI against neighbouring Lithgow.

With a large crowd gathered, Bradman was soon in full flow, taking 38 off the first over he faced. After passing his hundred, a bowler called Bill Black was brought on. Bradman casually asked wicketkeeper Leo Waters what to expect. "Don't you remember this bloke?" Waters replied, adding mischievously: "He bowled you in an exhibition match in Lithgow a few weeks ago and has been boasting about it ever since, at your expense."

Black had indeed bowled Bradman for 52 in an up-country match, a feat that caused the supposedly impartial local umpire to yell, "Bill, you've got him" as the stumps were hit. The ball was mounted and Black had been dining out on the moment since.

Bradman ambled down the pitch to chat with Wendell Bill and reportedly said: "I think I'll have a go." What followed was brutal.

In three eight-ball overs he scored exactly 100, with Wendell Bill chipping in with two singles to get Bradman back on strike. There is no record of how long the onslaught took but it is estimated to have been around 18 minutes, given the time taken to retrieve 10 sixes.

The first over from Black produced 33 runs (6,6,4,2,4,4,6,1), the second, from the blameless Horrie Baker 40 (6,4,4,6,6,4,6,4) and the third, again from Black, 29 (1,6,6,1,1,4,4,6), which included the singles by Wendell Bill off the first and fifth deliveries. A bewildered Baker demanded to be taken off with figures of 2-0-62-0, while Bradman was eventually dismissed for 256, which included 14 sixes and 29 fours. Wendell Bill made 68.

"It's important, I think, to emphasise that the thing was not planned," Bradman said years later. "It happened purely by accident and everyone was surprised at the outcome, no one more than I.

"Wendell Bill became one of my staunchest friends, and in later years he said he got more notoriety out of the two singles he scored in those three overs than anything else he ever did in his life."

In 2008, Syd Edgar, who had watched the innings from up a hoop-pine tree as an eight-year old, recalled: "When word got around that Bradman was coming to Blackheath, I think nearly everyone attended. I was yelling at him 'Hit it over here, hit it over here' and he hit one past my head out of the ground."

As entertainment it was superb, but it hardly stood either batsman in good stead for the opening match of the Sheffield Shield season the following Saturday. The pair were dismissed for ducks in the same over from Queensland fast bowler Eddie Gilbert.

At the post-match dinner one of the Lithgow players, Bob Nicholson, a coalminer, sang, so impressing Bradman, who was to announce his engagement later in the week, that Nicholson was invited to sing at the wedding, the following April.

After the match Bradman presented the bat, which weighed 2lbs 2ozs, he used to the Blackheath mayor, who had it mounted on a wall in the council offices. It was said he asked people to swear on it when an honest response was needed. It is now on loan to the Bradman Museum at Bowral.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rohan on April 28, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    bradman=sachin + lara...no doubt... but some1 commented here that avg tells us who d better batsman is...i dnt agree...u bat fr 2 days..go not out fr 150...ur avg is up nd d match is a draw..cummon man avgs doesnt tell d full story...

  • Andrew on April 27, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    @srivatsan85 7. Tendulkar scored thousands of runs against Zim, Bang & NZ, also feasted against a WI side after the great pace battery of the 80s were in decline 8. Tendulkar plays on a high proportion of innings on pitches that are in favour of the batsmen, where genuine pace is nulified.

    I personally think that Tendulkar is a great batsmen, he would make my World XI of players I have watched. IMO the best batsmen in the last 20 years are; 1. Lara 2. Ponting 3. Tendulkar 4. Kallis I can accept that people have different opinions on this. However, the above 4 have never had to play on sticky wickets - matches get called off they are not at a certain standard. Fielding standards are higher now due to ODIs & T20s. I often use to think that if the Don was cloned and playing in todays world, he would still be the best but ave 75-80, however, now days I think that he would probably ave 120!

  • Andrew on April 27, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    @srivatsan85 ...to give so much credit to a batsman who played at a time when there were no third umpires --- Listen mate the 3rd Umpire also has protected a lot of batsmen who probably would of been out. So I don't believe technology is making things any easier for modern batsmen. Also - the comment about being a 'walker' meant he probably didn't leave many decisions to the umpire to make - rather he accepted he was out, something that Gavaskar certainly didn't do! Tendulkar is definately not as accomplished as Bradman because; 1. Fields are smaller 2. Bats have bigger sweet spots 3. Balls have less seam so don't deviate thru the air, (swing), or jag off the pitch, (seam) as much as in days gone by. 4. No helmets back then - Tendulkar has always been susceptable to pace at the body. In Bradmans days - towels were used as rib protection - and gloves were less useful. 5. Bradman had 8 years out of the game due to the war 6. His final series he was about 40 and of ill health

  • karthik on April 26, 2010, 13:01 GMT

    @ ozziefan08 no i am not discrediting him just because he is not an indian..infact i wil tell u this - i dont like sachin that much at all compared to dhoni,gavaskar and ganguly..but still facts speak for itself..and abt ur 'gentleman' theory,on what basis did u come to that conclusion?did u watch close replays of all his matches??neither did i..so dat means there is an uncertainity element and v hv to admit it... @ SeaforthA1 u hv jus taken selected points frm my argument..run outs r not the only thing..wat abt close catches..evry1 will admit that due to today's technology it has made difficult for batsmen to remain on the crease even though he was given not out...bcoz they fear the media and public reaction...and urself hv mentioned "He played most of his career against 1 quality side being England"..so i rest my case!

  • james on April 26, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    Too true ozziefan08. Only Indians would have you believe that Tendulkar is better than Bradman, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Ask any English, West Indies or South African comeentator and they will laugh in your face if you try to convince them that Tendulkar was better than the Don.

  • Brady on April 26, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    funny how this was an article about Bradman. NOT Tendulkar. You Indian fans really need to go away? Bradman is by far the best batsman of all time. Scoring runs on uncovered pitches where swing bounce and movement off the pitch actually happened. Not like the absolute roads of pitches on the sub-continent and around the world of today. Why cant you Indian fans just accept Brandman was the best? @ srivatsan85 They used to call cricket a gentleman's game they took the decision and players also walked. get over it no one will ever average 99.94 again stop insulting the greatest cricket of all time. Your just angry he wasnt an Indian

  • Rick on April 25, 2010, 20:08 GMT

    Whenever a former great batsman's name is mentioned, it is inevitable that the puerile Sachin debates start. Many of his fans appear to be jingoistic in the extreme, so that they cannot objectively appreciate the history of this great game or the champion players from other nations. Rather than belabour the point about Bradman's place in cricket history, which is beyond question, I'd point out to the xenophobes that he was extremely supportive of Indian cricket in its early years of international competition. From personally receiving the Indian team at Sydney airport (what opposition captain would do that - remember Sehwag's boorish comments about the Bangladesh team recently?), to congratulating the Indian players who did well, to stopping by their dressing room to inquire after their well-being, Sir Don was the complete gentleman. Too bad neither the Sachin fans, nor their idol, can ever aspire to this particular quality.

  • Robert on April 25, 2010, 16:38 GMT

    srivatsan85. Your comment only makes Bradman sound better. He played most of his career against 1 quality side being England. Tendulkar has been able to play and bully Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The run out theory is not really poinent considering Tendulkar has only been run out 7 times. Bradman was also a walker. Nearly all cricketers were at his time. They edged, they walked. Don Bradman scored 309 n.o individual runs in a test match in one day. If Tendulkar ever does that I will conceed that he is better. Even if it was against Bangladesh. But we all know that is never going to happen because Tendulkar is quite simply not good enough compared to The Don.

  • karthik on April 25, 2010, 14:40 GMT

    i agree bradman and sachin cant b put in the same sentence...to give so much credit to a batsman who played at a time when there were no third umpires(and hence ruling out close decisions)- who knows how many times bradman was run out/caught behind and chose to stay - at a time when thr were no cricketing nations/competiion worth mentioning other than england...at a time when 'fielding' was not in the vocab of cricket and definitely not with 2days level( who knows how many runs he scored due to misfields)...at a time when 'ball tampering' and 'sledging' was unheard of(or atleast very less)...yup u aussies r right...bradman doesnt deserve to be in the same sentence as OUR GOD...

  • chris on April 25, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    if we are going to compare batsmen across the ages then why not a word for wg grace? in 1871 on uncovered and under-prepared pitches he scored more than 2700 runs at an avreage in the 70s, when the next batsman scored half as many at less than half the average. bradman was a phenomenon, but the way he scored his runs wasn't particularly exciting. where he had it over other batsmen was the never got tired of scoring runs. tendulkar is wonderful too (although i would always prefer to watch brian lara bat - or, for different reasons, rahul dravid and vvs laxman, while virender sehwag is a phenomenon in the way jessop was). in the end, though, bradman has to have been the best. if what he did wasn't unique, then other players of his time wuld also have averaged nearly 100

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