Essays, reflections and more

Bradman versus Warne

What if the greatest batsman of them all had faced the finest legspinner ever?

Ashley Mallett

January 8, 2012

Comments: 91 | Text size: A | A

Don Bradman plays and misses during his innings of 138, England v Australia, 1st Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day, June 11, 1948
Bradman: "Let me see the ball coming and then I'll decide the best place to hit it" © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Sir Donald Bradman | Shane Warne
Teams: Australia

Having watched epic contests between Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar - the master bowler of the age versus the champion batsman - I have always wondered how Don Bradman would have dealt with the sublime spin of Warne. How I wish Albert Einstein realised that things could go faster than light, and a time machine was potential reality. Perhaps not in our time.

However, in the absence of technology, we can use our imaginations. We can look at old footage of Bradman and film of Warne; we can research and analyse and use part of the large portion of the human mind science tells us we usually don't utilise, to visualise such a contest. Sometimes the unreal melds with the real, but fantasy is fantasy. Or is it?

As the clock struck the hour, fans in their thousands poured into the Sydney Cricket Ground to witness first-hand the greatest cricket battle of them all - Bradman versus Warne.

Sid Barnes, stalwart of the 1948 Invincibles, and Arthur Morris' opening partner, fell to Warne's second ball, a hard-spun legbreak that left the bowler's hand and curved down the pitch in a lovely arc, fit to send Banjo Paterson into poetic song.

As Barnes probed forward, the hissing Warne legbreak ducked swiftly, like a diving Spitfire, and the batsman's failure to cover the length and breadth of spin presented Mark Taylor with a dolly at first slip. Already 50,000 people had packed the SCG, and they rose as one to give the greatest batsman of all time the most magnificent reception.

Barnes tried in vain to mention to Bradman that the ball was dipping wickedly and that the legspin magician had it on a string, but The Don was in no mood to talk to anyone about the merits of a bowler for whom he had great respect but dearly wanted to thrash unmercifully.

On the 1930 Australia tour of England, the brash 20-year-old batting phenomenon told his team-mates: "Plenty of batsmen watch the bowler's fingers, hoping to detect what sort of ball he's going to deliver, but that's no good to me. Let me see the ball coming and then I'll decide the best place to hit it." Never would he stop on his way to the wicket to hear the out-going batsman describe the amazing swing, cut or spin the bowler had achieved to cause his downfall.

Maybe Clarrie Grimmett, the greatest legspinner between the wars, had told Bradman of the Test trial at the SCG in 1925, when Grimmett spun one a good deal to trap Tommy Andrews and then watched the departing batsman and saw how he stopped to chat to the man next in, Alan Kippax. There was Andrews demonstrating with arms outstretched how the ball that got him "spun a mile". Kippax lasted one ball: a fizzing Grimmett topspinner ripped between bat and pad to hit middle stump as Kippax played with his bat away from the pad to counter the excessive turn he expected.

The stage was set. Taylor remembered how Sachin Tendulkar attacked Warne in India and succeeded with big hundreds in three innings. Would Bradman go at Warne in similar vein?

Bradman took guard, looked about the field, and took up his stance. Warne had a slip, backward point, short cover, extra cover and mid-off. To the on side was a man behind square leg, a very straight midwicket, mid-on, and a man in the deep just in front of square. The crowd fell silent. They knew this contest would provide something special, for both players were at the pinnacle of their powers.

While the likes of Victor Trumper came from an era where a batsman, after hitting a century, looked for a worthy opponent to "present" his wicket to, Bradman simply marked guard afresh and went for the next hundred. He was totally ruthless and was said to have targeted bowlers, setting out to destroy them on the field. Once, in a grade match in Adelaide, he went to the wicket late on a Saturday afternoon. The big fast bowler standing at mid-on looked like he might possibly ruffle the champion's feathers if he bowled fast the next over on the green track in bad light. So the Don hit all eight deliveries of his first over just out of reach of mid-on. By the time the over ended and he was expected to bowl to Bradman, the poor man was so exhausted he couldn't scratch himself.

Now Bradman was up against Warne, the man he had said in the late 1990s, was "the best thing to happen to Australian cricket in 30 years". Around that time Bradman invited Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne to his Kensington Park home in Adelaide. It was a pleasant change from having busloads of people - even Japanese tourists - turn up unannounced to snap their cameras in a frenzy of celebrity worship.

 
 
Ball three arrives, again dipping menacingly in a lovely curve. Bradman pounces with feline reflexes, his feet moving swiftly, yet with silky smoothness, to reach the ball the instant it strikes the turf
 

At the age of 16, Len Hutton faced 62-year-old SF Barnes in the nets, and years later he declared that Barnes "was the best bowler I've faced". Bradman considered Bill O'Reilly to be the greatest bowler he had played with or against. He wrote to me in 1989:

"Of all the bowlers I played with and against, I rate Bill O'Reilly No. 1. In my opinion the hardest ball to play is the one which turns from leg to off, and this was Bill's stock delivery. He persistently bowled at a right-hander's leg stump, and when perfectly pitched that ball would take the off bail. There is precious little answer to such a delivery - the batsman actually gets an outside edge or the ball clips the off stump. Bill also bowled a magnificent Bosey, which was hard to pick and which he aimed at middle and leg stumps. It was fractionally slower than his legbreak and usually dropped a little in flight and "sat up" to entice a catch to one of his two short-leg fieldsmen. These two deliveries, combined with great accuracy and unrelenting hostility, were enough to test the greatest of batsmen, particularly as his legbreak was bowled at medium pace - quicker than the normal run of slow bowlers - thereby making it extremely difficult for a batsman to use his feet as a counter measure. Bill will always remain in my book, the greatest of all."

And how did Bradman rate Grimmett, O'Reilly's great spinning partner? He revealed in a letter to me in 1991:

"I always classified Clarrie as the best of the genuine slow legspinners (I exclude O'Reilly because, as you say, he was not really a slow leggie), and what made him the best was his accuracy. His control was remarkable. I saw Clarrie in one match take the ball after some light rain, when the ball was greasy and hard to hold, yet he reeled off five maidens without a loose ball. That is the problem with young legbreak bowlers - it takes years to develop such control, and in the meantime they are too expensive and get discarded."

As far as I know, Sir Donald never aired in public any comparison of Grimmett with Warne. Perhaps Warne's emergence was too late in Bradman's life to make such comparisons, for invariably it would have led to his being hounded by the press. Who'd want that as you entered your 90s?

Bradman again looks about the field. Warne has Taylor at slip, Matthew Hayden at backward point, Ricky Ponting at short cover, Mark Waugh at extra cover, and Steve Waugh at mid-off. As the keeper, Ian Healy, settles down with a "Carn Shane," Merv Hughes moves in at backward square leg; so too do David Boon at short, straight midwicket and Jason Gillespie at mid-on. At deep square leg Glenn McGrath ambles in a few yards. There is a hush in the crowd.

Warne stands at the top of his mark. His spinning fingers move a little up and down as he caresses the ball, ensuring the grip is neither too loose or too tight, but firm. Bradman's eyes are set on the blond legspinner.

Warne starts on his methodical way to the wicket. When he gets within a yard of the crease his wrist cocks and he drives up and over his front leg with amazing energy and strength. The ball spins so hard it hums, dipping away in a lovely curve. Bradman can't hit this one for six, four, three, two or one, so he goes well forward and meets the ball with a dead bat. No run.

Warne stands at the end of his follow-through and rubs his chin. Bradman avoids his stare, looking about the field. He sees gaps on the on side but knows all too well that hitting those gaps will be risky against hard-spun legbreaks, which if Warne is on song, will arrive in a fizzing, dipping arc.


Shane Warne ended the year with 96 Test wickets, Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 30, 2005
Warne was, Bradman said, "the best thing to happen to Australian cricket in 30 years" © Getty Images
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Warne again. A legbreak. It curves in towards leg stump, and upon pitching it fairly buzzes, spinning past Bradman's forward-defensive stroke. The ball misses off by a whisker, and as the crowd roars in appreciation of the bowler's skill, Healy takes it, throwing his head back.

Almost.

Ball three arrives, again dipping menacingly in a lovely curve. Bradman pounces with feline reflexes, his feet moving swiftly, yet with silky smoothness, to reach the ball the instant it strikes the turf. There can be no error, for to misjudge the length would be fatal. The cover drive scorches past Ponting at short cover, beats Mark Waugh at extra, and scuttles like a startled rabbit to the boundary.

The battle goes on for an hour. Bradman has scored freely up the other end, and has taken about a dozen runs off Warne. Two boundaries and four singles. In the meanwhile Morris, who was Grimmett's last first-class wicket, falls to McGrath, and Lindsay Hassett, one of the few batsmen to repeatedly play well against O'Reilly, proves a good ally for Bradman. A big partnership looms.

But Warne has other ideas. He has used his full repertoire: the legbreak, fizzing topspinner, back-spinner, zooter, wrong'un and flipper. Just one wrong'un to Bradman, which he latched on to, as he so often did when Grimmett bowled that ball. Bradman always said Grimmett's wrong'un was easy to pick, and he found it the same with Warne.

The flipper too made little impact. Bradman was alert to the delivery, which Grimmett invented and Warne bowled so well to many, especially South Africa's Daryll Cullinan, who once told me he always "picked" Warne's flipper but, alas, kept getting bowled by it.

Some 75 minutes into the match, the Invincibles' score stood at 94 for 2: Bradman 49 and Hassett 17. Warne decided to go back to relying on his stock ball. He would concentrate on bowling hard-spun legbreaks and varying, ever so slightly, the pace of those deliveries.

Bradman had batted with assurance and skill but found Warne's bowling to be an extraordinary mix of O'Reilly and Grimmett wrapped up in one amazing bowler. Warne had the spin and the guile of Grimmett; in fact, he spun it harder and the ball dropped more dramatically than when Grimmett bowled it, and Warne also possessed O'Reilly's "unrelenting hostility".

Warne moves in again. He bowls a hard-spun legbreak, but with a slight, almost imperceptible change of pace. Fifty thousand people watching at the ground, plus millions on television, are fooled, so too is Bradman. Although his footwork is swift and sure, the balls dips suddenly and wickedly, and lands well short of where the Don expects it to. Too far into his stroke to check it, his lofted drive goes straight into the hands of Ponting at short cover.

Bradman c Ponting b Warne 49.

Ashley Mallett took 132 Tests wickets in 38 Tests for Australia. An author of over 25 books, he has written biographies of Clarrie Grimmett, Doug Walters, Jeff Thomson and Ian Chappell

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Posted by endofageofaquarius on (January 11, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

Can someone who cannot bowl a googly be considered to be a true leg spinner? (Shane Warne holds the ball in a manner, with the finger next to his small finger being the spinning finger, so that while maxmimum spin is imparted onto the ball this completely removes the possibility of delivering the ball from the back of the hand for the googly)

If so, then I question whether Shane Warne is really worthy of the title of the greatest leg spinner in history?? A bit of a western spin I think to crown him thus !!

In terms of pure ability and skill and guile I would rate Mushtaq Muhammed as the greatest legspinner in history.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

what a boring article.. tell me the bottom line in one line..

Posted by BillyCC on (January 11, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

@Raymond Oliver, flash forward to 2200, evolution will bring along faster, stronger and smarter cricketers. Technology will bring along advancements in batting that will make batting in 2000 look amateurish and make those future cricketers think their mums could have gotten Tendulkar out. Don't bring the evolutionary and anthropological side of it into the equation. Trust your imagination. Cricket will always move forward in leaps and bounds. The determination of greatness will always be the same, and one major factor is how well you stack up against your peers.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

To the author : Why warnie? Why not wasim akram or andy roberts, michael holding? Surely you wanna test the man against people that could trouble him. Bradman could not deal with sheer pace. He was out of his comfort zone against the bouncer. Why on earth would you like to see warnie bowl to him? He isnt even a great leg spinner,or spinner for that matter. If you cant flumex the indians on turning tracks ,or any subcontinental team,or pretty darn useless if u ask me. Shane warne doesnt cut it. Im sure most his wickets are against england and daryll cullinan anyway,who need i remind you,were pretty pathetic against most spin,especially in the 90's when he played.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

Bradman. Great batsman in his era. The only thing is,he is most certainly not the greatest ever. No ways. He played almost all his tests in his beloved Australia,and mainly against England,scoring about 5000 runs out of 6996 against them. He played west indies and india once,and that was in australia. So for only playing england im taking away 15 off hia average and a further 15 for not playing anywhere else(except england).Also,he played in timeless tests and 6 day tests,dokess another 4 off his average. Lack of fielding ability,and technology means he got away with a lot of tight run out calls. Dock another 3 from his average.That leaves him on an average of 62. Not too mention they were a lot of time between series(upto a year) unlike these days. Dock another 2. That leaves him on 60. Doesnt seem too great now does he?

Posted by   on (January 10, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

BillyCC - just trust your own eyes and watch the footage from that era. Test cricketers in their late 30's and 40's; batsmen playing defense shots with straight elbows, spin bowlers with their opposing arms by their sides - it's like watching my mum bowl when we were kids. Most of all, don't bring Steve Waugh into this discussion - he doesn't even rate in the top 100!

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (January 10, 2012, 14:32 GMT)

I finished reading the article now. I beg to differ with the author. Please watch Warne's helplessness with players who are not even the best among their contemporaries - Siddhu, KP, Sachin, Lara, Dravid, VVS etc...Sachin, who is not even the best among his contemporaries, who doesn't have an average that is double that of his contemporaries, gave Warne nightmares - why would the scenario be any different with The Greatest Sir? It simply is not possible that a batsman who has nearly double the average of his contemporaries would not take Warne to the cleaners. It's a no contest. I also doubt if Warne is the best ever legspinner to start with. Subhash Gupte it is or Bhagawat.

Posted by BillyCC on (January 9, 2012, 20:56 GMT)

@RaymondOliver, it is definitely possible for a mere mortal to average close to 100 for an extended period. Bradman did it for 52 tests and 234 first class matches for a period over 20 years. And yes, it may not have been at the "highest" level under your definition when comparing eras. However, plenty of other batsmen played with Bradman under these so called comical conditions and no one came close. So we can conclude that he had freakish talent and genius. What does that translate to in modern times? A combination of the best facets of Lara, Tendulkar and Steve Waugh? Then yes, I think someone could well average close to 100 against the current English team.

Posted by   on (January 9, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

BillyCC 7 co:- The comparison with Ramprakash was used only to highlight that it is possible for a mere mortal to average near 100 for an extended period. With respect to him, my point is that he has been able to do this because he was not playing at the very highest level. Yes the wickets are probably better now in Test cricket than say the 70's, but the athletes hurtling the ball down are better, stronger and more accurate. Just look at the footage that is available from past eras - some of it is almost comical. You failed to mention that the ball was changed less often and spinners bowled for long periods. Tests against India over the years prove what can happen when the ball doesn't turn. Yes there are some 'easy' runs around Test cricket, but not against England, SA and (currently) Australia. I'm sorry, but no batsman born of this earth would average 100 over 50-odd tests against this current England outfit…not even on the subcontinent.

Posted by Thisara.N on (January 9, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

Most of the people outside of asia when they talk about great spinners always call Warne "THE GREATEST LEG SPINNER EVER".But they don't like to mention even a word about Murali.Because they know statistics implies that Murali is greater than Warne.So those forces them not to call Warne "Greatest SPINNER " but call him as the "GREATEST LEG SPINNER".But the everyone knows Murali is the "GREATEST SPINNER" of all time.

Posted by BillyCC on (January 9, 2012, 4:27 GMT)

@roliveruk, ahhh yes that old, used up and flawed example of Ramprakash. Actually, his best consecutive four year first class average was closer to 80, nowhere near 100. And when did he do this? When he had already played cricket for a long period of time. If you want to compare to Bradman, you have to compare to their first four years, their first 52 tests or their first 52 first class matches. Otherwise, you would have to consider Bradman's best four years, and if you consider that, he would be averaging over 130. Regarding your comparison of historical footage vs today, it's another flawed argument. No one is disputing that a 1930s Bradman would fail today. Players' health, physique, training methods etc. have all improved. In the same way, a player from 2012 would also fail in 1930. Sanitation, immune systems, nutrition would probably mean they play a handful of innings before getting extremely sick. It works both ways.

Posted by Super70s on (January 9, 2012, 2:54 GMT)

Mr. Mallett. no time machine needed. The scenario you are describing could have happened only in 1998 with Warne at his peak and the Don in his 90s!

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (January 9, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

I didn't read the article but I'm just answering that question, "What if the greatest batsman of them all had faced the finest legspinner ever"? The Great Sir would have butchered Warne to pieces. Warne might have been utterly demoralised. If Tendulkar, who is not even the best batsman among his contemporaries (his average isn't nearly double that of his contemporaries unlike Sir Don) could literally kill Warne's legspinners; and VVS, Dravid, Siddhu, Kevin Pietersen and some others could easily counter-attack Warne, I have no doubt whatsoever that Sir Don would have beaten the hell out of Shane Warne. The best of the bowlers who were able to keep Sir Don's contemporaries' averages at human levels failed to keep Sir Don's average from reaching Super Human levels. The result of the battle is a giveaway. There won't be a battle to start with. No offence meant to the author for not reading the article. Sir Don simply has no match.

Posted by Stevo_ on (January 9, 2012, 0:55 GMT)

@Charindra That's exactly why Murali had so many wickets, he did all the bowling for SL, while Warne had to share with McGrath/Gillespie/etc

Posted by redneck on (January 9, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

@johnathonjosephs to believe murali is the greatest spinner you first need to believe he bowls and doesnt chuck. also muralis record is poor in australia, only a problem for aus in his own conditions. also bagledesh and zimbabwe are the only reason he has more wickets than warne!!! esechally in the age of bradman there is no way any aussie offical would allow murali to take the field with his bent arm, if muralis career was any earlier in time he wouldnt have been saved by the icc he would have been banned early on and never heard of again.

Posted by gzawilliam on (January 9, 2012, 0:40 GMT)

This is all good but i dont think Bradman would of survived Mcgrath long enough to face warne. I do agree though that bradman would of played warne pretty well. Not dominate him though.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2012, 23:03 GMT)

Rowdy, you painted a lovely picture of Warne trying out all the variations, but you left out the four hours of round-the-wicket legside filth into the footmarks being padded away by Bradman while bored spectators started a Mexican wave...

Posted by kantipur on (January 8, 2012, 22:40 GMT)

Tendulkar have problem playing against Bishoo.

Posted by malomay on (January 8, 2012, 21:55 GMT)

roliveruk...yes it was a different game......they played on uncovered wickets (not the cultivated roads that allow modern batsmen to gorge themselves on undeserved runs), they didn't bat in helmets, or indeed any of the mountainous wads of padding that modern batsmen use & allow them to play fast bowlers safe in the knowledge that they are immune from physical injury.

Posted by smudgeon on (January 8, 2012, 21:40 GMT)

Bradman c. Beckham b.McCague 6

Posted by Meety on (January 8, 2012, 20:46 GMT)

@roliveruk - goose! You fail to look at the fact that Bradman played on uncovered pitches that would make the recent Hobart Pitch look like a road. Pls don't show your ignorance by making ill-informed comments, you must be about 9 yrs old!

Posted by BillyCC on (January 8, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

@jonathonjosephs, thanks for that information regarding Bradman in Sri Lanka. I can't seem to find the match when he scored the duck, but found the one where he scored 20. It was a one-day match, played on a pitch which was measured to be shorter than a normal pitch. My take on Bradman on the subcontinent is that he would have been very successful. He was a great player of spin in his own right, and traditional pitches on the subcontinent are extremely flat, meaning that batsman no. 3 and 4 traditionally cash in on the first innings.

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 8, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

why are peope even mentioning sachin tendulkar? he's not even the best batsman of the last 15 years. ponting, lara, kallis, hayden, hussey all above him

Posted by Sameer-hbk on (January 8, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

Greatest batsman of all time DID bat against the greatest leg spinner ever... SRT vs Warne. Just like he did against the greatest left-arm seamer ever - Wasim Akram and greatest off-spinner ever- Murali. This would have been an interesting simulation of sorts if this was second innings 3rd day in Chennai with foot marks around leg stump :) Or was the great Don too good to step off of his boat even in a simulation!! But lovely concept... Next Geoff Boycott vs Glen McGrath... 15 pages of "Ball just outside off stump... well left" :)

Posted by Rakim on (January 8, 2012, 14:59 GMT)

Bradman would hit Warne all day. Its the greatest batsman EVER we are talking about. (CERTAINLY NOT TENDULKAR). A mediocre batsman like Salim Malik could dominate Warne some times.

Posted by Charindra on (January 8, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

Mr. Ashley Mallet calls Warne "the master bowler of the age". Has he forgotten a certain Muttiah Muralitharan or does he simply not wish to acknowledge him? Murali was statistically AND practically better than Warne. Warne benefitted from playing in the mighty Aus team while Murali had to do all the work in the average SL team. Murali is the greatest spinner ever, irrespective of how many people try to put him down.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

Hmmmm..... What about a match up between Sachin Tendulkar and Bill O' Reilly/ Clarrie Grimmet. The greatest batsman of modern times vs one of the two greatest bowlers in pre war times. In INDIA!!

Posted by ravi.m on (January 8, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

..

Rowdy,

You once said that the Don once picked up a bat in the South Australian dressing room and played a shadow cover drive... "the bat was a blur, quite unlike anything you had ever seen...never had you seen a bat move so quickly. And he was almost 60 at the time".

What changed then for him to scoop one to cover off a spinner who couldn't do well against the best players of spin in their own backyard?

Warne may be the greatest spinner of all-time; but his consistent failure against India - especially in India - means he's over-rated massively!

Posted by KarachiKid on (January 8, 2012, 13:16 GMT)

Very interesting indeed. Seems like the particular wicket had cracks and was suitable for leggie, otherwise, on a flat track, bradman could easily score 150+. But even on this track, I think he would have scored something between 70 and 99 not 49 !!!.

Posted by Kaze on (January 8, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Tendulkar c Hammond b Tyson 0

Posted by roliveruk on (January 8, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

I think it is about time the cricketing world had a reality check regarding players of the 'golden era'. I've watched a lot of footage from that era, and it is almost a different game.

You can see that Bradman is not even in the same league as many of the top batsman of the modern era. Bradman played most of his tests against the 'old' men of England.

The game then was played at a different pace; fielders didn't dive; video technology wasn't available to study.

Bradman averaged almost 100 over 52 tests, Mark Ramprakash has averaged that for around 4 seasons in County cricket - which is probably more innings, against what I might suggest is better opposition in real terms.

Warne against Bradman is neither here nor there; Warne is a great cricketer, but he had little impact against the mighty Indians - the World's best players of spin.

Bradman against the great West Indian quartet(s) or Lillee and Thompson, or Murali at the Oval - now that would be a test.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 8, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

Bradman all the way, the greatest ever. Statistically better than The Bear, Jordan, Babe Ruth, etc

Posted by Mahesh4811 on (January 8, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

Don would have definitely scored more than 49!

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (January 8, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

Just want to post something. Bradman never played a Test Match is entire career outside England/Australia. But, he did play a first class match in one country in the subcontinent. It's not India, he played in British Ceylon, now called today Sri Lanka. To the best of my knowledge Bradman played 2 matches out of the 4 times his team landed there. Of those 2 matches, he got a duck and a labored 20 runs. Meaning, he averages 10 in the subcontinent for FC matches. This can be up for debate, but would have been a greater contest to see Bradman vs Murali in the SSC. Bradman 9 c. M. Jayawardene b. Murali anyone?

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (January 8, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

People overrate Bradman too much. He did average 100, but keep in mind the bowling attack these times were very poor (England). Even with that in mind, Bradman still is undeniably the best batsman, but to say that even in today's day when cricket is 10X more competitive than it was 50 years ago, that he would average 100 is ludacris. I never seen Bradman bat, but I have seen old footages of people bowling in the '50s/ '60s. Bradmna's hand eye coordination is one of the best I have ever seen, and would probably rate him to have an average around 75-80 in today's world. This is interesting as Kumar Sangakkara averages 70 when not wicketkeeping. Would be interesting if there was such a thing as a time machine...

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 8, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

Bradman would have you for lunch unfortunately Warney. He is statistically the greatest world sportsman of all time. He would eat any attack for lunch.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

Murali is the best all time bowler in the world. He is ahead of Warne in average, wickets in test cricket. Some might argue Murali took most of the wickets against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. but Warne played most of the matches against weaker teams of spin like England, South Africa, New Zealand. In ODI's Murali is way ahead in wickets than Warne.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (January 8, 2012, 4:04 GMT)

A little silly if you ask me... Why even wonder what Bradman would do to Warne when we all know a man of half Bradman's average (Sachin Tendulkar) tore apart Warne everytime he met him? If you wanted a spinner, Murali would have been far more bamboozling with that doosra of his (in Bradman's time there was no such thing). If you wanted a pace attack, Wasim Akram or Malcolm Marshall would have been a better option, with their accuracy and reverse swing (again in Bradman's time there was no such thing)

Posted by   on (January 8, 2012, 3:08 GMT)

If you decide that Warne was the best bowler ever, then Tendulkar who dealt with him with great disdain (in all due respects) should be the greatest batsman of all time. Your hypothesis of Don facing would be of no use at all as 'God of Cricket' has done it in real time.

Posted by warnerbasher on (January 8, 2012, 1:37 GMT)

Nice dream Ashley. Reality is that great players such as Tendulkar and Lara really had no trouble with Warne and even Cronje dished out some punishing innings against Warne. As the greatest batsmen of them all(Bradman)l in all likeliehood would also have no trouble with Warne because he would attack him. Warne was best against defensive batsmen or those in a defensive mindset however could be hit off his length when attacked. The bowler who constantly got Lara and Tendulkar out was McGrath who in my view was the main reason for Australia's dominance in the 90's and 2000's and in my view ranks just behind Lillee as the greatest Australian bowler(of any type) of them all.

Posted by aus_trad on (January 8, 2012, 1:00 GMT)

Brilliant article! Bradman vs Warne: a tantalizing prospect, indeed... While Warne was the greatest spin bowler (with the emphasis on "bowler") I have ever seen (my recollections go back to 1970-71), I think it should be remembered that a) Bradman's record entitles him to be regarded as a greater batsman than Warne was a bowler, and b) he was a superlative player of spin bowling, in particular. In 1948, for instance, Jim Laker never took Bradman's wicket, though by then Bradman's feet had lost some of their swiftness (though to be fair, Laker was not yet the bowler he would be 8 years later). Hedley Verity was, I believe, the English spinner with the best record against the Don. Had he had to face Warne (had the latter been born around 60 years earlier, and in Manchester, not Melbourne), Bradman's average would have been a little lower, but still well into the 90s.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2012, 0:41 GMT)

I don't agree with your result,Bradman was better than tendulkar or lara and he(warne) did not dominate either of them,so how could warne dismiss him for 49,the Don would have made a double century. I am a west indian by the way.

Posted by CricFan78 on (January 8, 2012, 0:11 GMT)

We all know when greatest batsman (Sachin) met greatest leg spinner (Warne) ;-)

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 23:32 GMT)

Why does this article have a picture of a female Australian cricketer bowling out a female English cricketer, titled "Warne was, Bradman said, the best thing to happen to Australian cricket in 30 years"

Posted by SRT_GENIUS on (January 7, 2012, 23:19 GMT)

Bradman was way ahead of Tendulkar and Tendulkar had Warne for lunch. For Bradman, Warne would have been a teeny-tiny morsel. And- ask any real cricket journalist - Warne wasn't the greatest leg spinner of all time, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar was! The article would make sense if you were comparing greatest legspinner with the greatest batsman. Or greatest fast bowler like a Wasim Akram and Bradman. Tendulkar and Warne are great representatives of their generation but not worth inventing a time machine!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 20:22 GMT)

Outstanding article. Thank you!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

A well simulate commentary.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

Fantastic creativity.. DON FALLS TO WARNE IS CONVINVING AND I REALLY ENJOYED IT.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 17:52 GMT)

OVER RATED WARNE! Murali IS The Best , Bradman May Have Faced Best Bowlers BUT HE DIDNT FACE A REAL MAGICIAN!

Posted by Tansen on (January 7, 2012, 17:35 GMT)

I don't think Warne was the greatest of even the Australian bowlers of his generation, I would say that is McGrath. And for sheer variety of deliveries, it's Akram or Murali. I think the difference between Bradman and Warne is that Bradman was head and shoulders above his peers in stats, Warne wasn't.

Posted by zuber21886 on (January 7, 2012, 17:33 GMT)

bring on some more of another legends

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 16:43 GMT)

Warne never got an upper hand in his battle with Tendulkar. So, Bradman, being even better,probably would have taken him to cleaners.

Posted by abhijeet1in on (January 7, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

Great article. But i really can't find Shane Warne in the picture here. In fact, i am pretty sure its a picture of a match between Australia women and England women teams :).

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 15:38 GMT)

A well written article but regarding his average, Don must have scored at least 60+. 49 is injustice to the world's greatest batsman.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

former australian cricketer inadvertently presents air tight case for sachin tendulkar's superiority over don bradman. good one mallet.

Posted by Ravster_Xi on (January 7, 2012, 15:16 GMT)

interestingly written sir!!!

Posted by Mr.cricxpert on (January 7, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

TRASH.....Warniiee could never get out THE DON

Posted by gudolerhum on (January 7, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

Fascinating imagination and well constructed as it may have happened if it was possible. The Don was a unique player as was Warnie. If there is a cricket game in heaven and we get there we may yet watch this unfold.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

Oh please. Warne at his peak was taken to the cleaners by Indian batsmen. Not just byTendulkar, but also by someone like Sidhu. If this is supposed to be an imaginary encounter between Warne and the Don, with both being at the absolute peak of his powers (that is both playing the best session of cricket of their lives), the optimal best Warne can expect is to contain the Don more or less within an average performance. And with Don, an average performance begins with 99.94 runs (uncovered wickets and all). My guess is it would be DG Bradman c Ponting b Warne 149. That is, if the Don, in great touch and all, was exceptionally unlucky, like being declared out caught off the pads.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

South Africa's Daryll Cullinan, who once told me he always "picked" Warne's flipper but, alas, kept getting bowled by it.

Hmmmmm!!!

Posted by igorolman on (January 7, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

Fantastic piece, Rowdy. Many of us can imagine what Hutton v Lillee and Thomson, or Trumper v Muralitharan, would be like, but so few can put it into words as well as this.

Posted by vatsap on (January 7, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

Ah !! Lovely ... makes for a good story.

Posted by Dannymania on (January 7, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

The sole reason i read all this was to see what happens in the end.For me and thousands of other viewers,Sir Donald should've won this battle.I mean,If Warne deceived him,that'ld mean that Murali would deceive him sooner.And frankly,Glenn Mcgrath would've had a greater battle against Sir Donald.This article just makes me think that Sir Donald had a weakness against spin,which isn't the case.So this article creates a false image,which means that its wrong.Anyways,a positive thing coming out of this is that now i'm going to write separate battles between batsmen and bowlers.Murali against Bradman,Murali against Miandad,McGrath against Sir Donald etc.This article was useless in the context that it was written,but it makes people imagine and think,and thats a positive.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

Very well written, drooling at the prospect of seeing something that unfortunately, we will never have the pleasure of seeing.

Posted by jkaussie on (January 7, 2012, 11:20 GMT)

Lovely! Well done, really entertaining!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

Wonderful article... could almost picture the entire scene taking place...

Posted by IndiaNumeroUno on (January 7, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

The greatest batsman of them all - Sachin Tendulkar - has faced Warne and gave him persistent nightmares (self-confessed by Warnie!)

Posted by tjsimonsen on (January 7, 2012, 10:02 GMT)

He. Nicely written and an interesting thought experiment. I can't help wondering how SF Barnes would have fared against later batting greats from Hammond, Headly and The Don to todays Lara, Sachin and Kallis. Imagine the ball with which he once bowled Trumper (described as: fast on leg, swinging late to pitch on off, cutting back sharply to knock the leg stump out of the ground), bowled to any of the great batsmen over the last 30 years - it could well have been known as "the ball of the century". It would also have been interesting to se how Barnes (who was probably more like a "fast medium spinner" than a "real" pace bowler, relying on spin and curve rather than seam and swing, and of course immense control) would havee fared on the Subcontinent. Of course, given his personality, Barnes could well have alienated himself so effectively with the authorities that he would never have played a single test! It's all thought experiments, but that doesn't make it less fun.

Posted by stark-truth on (January 7, 2012, 9:48 GMT)

Incisive imagination, and very well-written! But no mention whatsoever of the allied sledging tool Aussie fielders have used to boost Warne's armory? Not that it would have ruffled Don anyhow. Bradman would have absolutely dominated all bowlers of this age bar a few, and Warne would have commanded respect. It's ironic that you have mentioned Tendulkar in the opening paragraph. If anything, King Viv against Lillie was a far more absorbing and entertaining duel. Tendulkar, mind you, has dominated only one world-class bowler in his career and that is Warne.

Posted by Meety on (January 7, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

Love the concept - top shelf! I would suspect that Bradman would come out in the 2nd innings & get a ton though!!!!!!

Posted by mcsdl on (January 7, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

Bradman is a good batsman. He would have faired reasonably well in modern days.. May be he would have a chance to get into current Aussie team too...!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

Taht was a Great narrative :D

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

hhhmmm. An interesting picture of what could have been. But I think that the incredible hand eye coordination that Bradman possessed, he would have seen Warne off fine. Not necesarilly in boundaries, but I don't think Warne could get him out as easily as that.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 8:05 GMT)

This is very interesting because I've always believed that Grimmett must have been a better bowler than Warne because he played almost totally on batsmen's wickets against England and South Africa.How many of Warne's wickets were taken against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and New Zealand? Who had the higher average wickets per match? Grimmett started late in life and was dropped at 47 for inferior bowlers. If Warne was still playing he would have taken 1000 test wickets by now.Grimmett weas born in NZ. Is there a bias against NZ?

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 8:04 GMT)

Warne got better of the Don in this innings, but watch out for second innings and rest of series !!! :D

Posted by Emancipator007 on (January 7, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

when India lost a match by losing just 11 wickets (as cowardly captain Bedi did not want his lower-order batsmen to land in hospital like batsmen Gaekwad and Patel). Even during the mid-70s, protective equipment had hardly progressed much from the 40s era. And Gavaskar never wore a helmet. I would rather the fantasy scenarios be: Bradman versus Holding,Garner,Marshall and Roberts (whom only Gavaskar and Gooch have faced the BEST consistently though others like Mohinder,Border,Wasim Raja did well in certain series) or Don versus Chandasekhar,Bedi,Prasanna on spin tracks (and not utter dust bowls) or Don versus reverse swing pace of Waqar and Wasim. For all Bradman's achievements, FACT is he was still a "2-country conditions specialist". So his battles at his pre-World War II peak batting skills against the legendary Indian spin trio in India or the pace quartet in Jamaica and Barbados would have been more intriguing than a faux-battle against Warne.Don would doubtless have caned him.

Posted by Emancipator007 on (January 7, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

Utter hype! Warne was and has never been the master spinner of the modern era, forget past eras. Saqlain Mustaq has been the craftiest spinner of this era. Tendulkar would doubtless have faced some greater spinners when he played Ranji Trophy in India as a teen. SRT and Indians are generally submissive and publicly non-boastful about their mastery over Warne in 13 Tests (10 on dust bowls and spin tracks of India). Malik, Kambli (briefly),de Silva,Ranatunga,Sehwag Sidhu, VVS (apart from SRT himself) have all hammered him.Other Asians like Azhar, Ganguly, Dravid, Inzy, Anwar have handled him adeptly.Another myth is that Bradman faced express pace when Larwood would never have bowled over 85 mph. Don't get too caught up with the myths generated and mythologized in that Bodyline docu-series about ferocious bouncers et al. Holding (was an EXTREME pace bowler)and Daniel were aiming to kill Indian batsmen by consistently bowling round the wicket during the Sabina Park bloodbath in 1976 CONTD.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 7:36 GMT)

Don Bradman, whatever the situation or excuse was, played only at home and in England. Again, 3 teams- India, NZ and WI were very young test teams during his time. Don did score a lot against all teams, but he was never tested in different pitch and weather conditions. As such, I find it a bit difficult to accept him as a great, leave alone the greatest.

Shane Warne showed his potential everywhere and against all teams. He got wickets on the bouncy tracks of Aus and SA, and also in the slow tracks of the subcontinent.

I will put Warne:Don as a 8:5

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

Beautiful. What a classic tussle, it would have been. Wish it were possible to capture all this for posterity. Avadh Lal

Posted by PieterJAF on (January 7, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

Exquisite piece of prose, Mr Mallett. You have created a piece of cricketing folklore, one which I am going to save and reread from time to time.With me you have fulfilled your purpose, namely allowing me to envision this intriguing contest. Not even a computer game will be able to create the cricket scenery the way your word and descriptions have done. Well done, sir!

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 7, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

Geez, I don't know about this Ashley. Where and when are they playing? Adelaide day 1? Sydney day 5? If SRT can take Warnie for a few, my money would be on Bradman to have some fun. Maybe 249 c Ponting b Warne might be more appropriate.

Posted by Agnihothra on (January 7, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

if ashle mallett was a noted batsman(rether than a spiner) he would have written..

Bradman c Ponting b Warne 249

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (January 7, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

The real question is: How Bradman would fair against the likes of Muttiah Muralithiran in any non-Australian part of the world. Why Warne? Yes he is the best legspinner, but Murali is the best spinner and the stats don't lie, Murali has double 10 wicket hauls and double the 5 wicket hauls of Warne in 10-15 less matches. So I guess the real question should be How would Bradman fair against Murali bowling at one end and Malcolm Marshall bowling from the other end? And who would get him out first?

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 5:30 GMT)

Very well written. Warne the greatest leg spinner of all time against the Don.

Posted by RohCricket on (January 7, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

Loved it. Warne vs Bradman. The ultimate battle.

Posted by donda on (January 7, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

Wow, the man who's average was 100 in his entire career got out on the biggest match of his life against the greatest bowler of all time to 49. I don't believe that. If Sachin can score 3 hundreds then why not Bradman deserves a 100 at his home ground.

This is a good article but i don't believe that bradman got out only scoring 49....unbelievable. Your article made warne bigger player than bradman which is not true at all.

If i was the article writer it would end like that Bradman c Ponting Warne 99.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

I think the beauty of this article is the stories on the real events. The match where Bradman hit the ball past the big fast bowler relentlessly to make him tired is brilliant.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

Each and every line of this article was interesting and when I imagined the whole scenario, I felt it could be a nail biting situation and most curious situation ever happened in the history of cricket....

Great work!!!!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

Bradman c Ponting b Qadir 0.

Posted by SixFourOut on (January 7, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

What Japanese tourists even know who Bradman is?

Posted by dms1972 on (January 7, 2012, 4:01 GMT)

In Mallet's imagination, Bradman only scores 49 but somehow I don't think he'd average that over a 6 Test series against the Australian team of 1999-2007. Even with two of the greatest bowlers of all-time, in Warne and McGrath, bowling to him, I suspect Bradman would still average at least 80. I wonder how Ricky Ponting would have gone facing Warne? There was only one spin bowler that really troubled Ponting and that was Harbhajan. The only valid claim those who say Ponting isn't an all-time great have is Ponting's record in India and that's due solely to one man, Harbhajan.

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