254 v England, Lord's, 1930
There were many out-of-this-world performances from Bradman, but this innings
at Lord's was the pinnacle, mainly because he said it was. "Practically without exception every ball went where it was intended," Bradman wrote in Farewell to Cricket
. It was his second Test of his maiden trip to England and the innings began with the fastest Test fifty of his career, the initial milestone arriving in 45 minutes. Neville Cardus described it as "the most murderous onslaught I have ever known in a Test match". "After tea a massacre, nothing less. Never before this hour, or two hours until close of play, and never since, has a batsman equalled Bradman's cool deliberate murder or spifflication of all bowling." A century came in the final session of the second day and almost 24 hours after it started, the innings ended with Bradman falling to an excellent diving catch at extra cover by Percy Chapman. Bradman, aged 21 and the youngest Test double-century maker, had stayed for 376 balls, piercing 25 fours, and launched a reputation for supreme greatness.
334 v England, Headingley, 1930
Two weeks after his best innings, Bradman produced his biggest. The previous highest in the Ashes was Tip Foster's 287 at the SCG in 1903-04, but Bradman beat that by the end of the opening day in Leeds
, which concluded with a drive for four through cover. His century came before lunch, another 115 runs were added between the break and tea, and at stumps he walked off with sore feet, a fresh mind and 309. There were a couple of chances, but Sir Pelham Warner said it best: "This is like throwing stones at Gibraltar." A quiet night followed before a more difficult second day, with Bradman edging Maurice Tate to George Duckworth after half an hour. With 974 runs on an astounding tour of records and bowling ruins, Bradman's old, quiet life was over.
103 not out v England, MCG, 1932-33
Both England and Australia were pleased Bradman was playing
in the second Test. Douglas Jardine was desperate to try his tailor-made Bodyline plan; the home supporters wanted their hero to conquer it. Mass silence came with Bradman's first-ball duck to Bill Bowes in the opening innings, but there was plenty of noise in the second when he steered Australia to a match-winning lead of 250. Even Bradman was uncomfortably against Bodyline, but he jinked and ducked, hooked and pulled, to frustrate the tourists. His century was not secure until after Bert Ironmonger, the No. 11, joined him and survived the two deliveries needed to end Wally Hammond's over. Six balls later Bradman lofted Bill Voce over the legside and the three runs took him to his hundred. It was probably the most important of his career.
270 v England, MCG, 1936-37
Having taken the captaincy two games earlier, Bradman was suddenly faced with unusual scrutiny after losing both contests. Worse still, Australia started their second innings in the third game
in Melbourne on a terribly wet wicket, with England declaring 124 runs behind in the hope of a quick demolition of the home team. Bradman, struggling with flu, shuffled the order, sending the bowlers in first, and dropping himself to No. 7, all the while hoping the conditions would improve. Opening cautiously after arriving at 5 for 97, his confidence soon grew and by the end of his 346-run partnership with Jack Fingleton they owned the world record for the sixth wicket. Bradman batted for two days and Australia went on to win by 365 runs. In the final two Tests he added 212 and 169, earning a magnificent 3-2 series success.
173 not out v England, Headingley, 1948
Bradman's 29th and final Test century
came with another world record, this time for the highest successful run-chase. Set 404 inside the last day, Australia looked to the soon-to-be 40-year-old Bradman, Arthur Morris and some help from the England bowlers, who delivered a "succession of full tosses". Bradman struck 29 fours to Morris' 33 and stayed until the end, with Neil Harvey sealing the win which formed the high point for the Invincibles. They were Bradman's last Test runs.