27 August 1999
Bradman and the Indian connection
The man who averaged 99.94 in Test cricket celebrates his 91st birthday on Friday. Maybe celebrate is not the correct word to go with Donald George Bradman. He has been a recluse for so many years now and did not really approve of his 90th birthday last year being celebrated with a big bash. Of course he did not attend. He spent the day quietly at home in Adelaide, his only public activity being to receive two giants of the modern game, India's Sachin Tendulkar and Australia's Shane Warne who were special invitees for the party. Always a very private person, Sir Don became even more reclusive after the death of Lady Bradman - Jessie to him - in 1997 after a 'partnership' that lasted 66 years. Tendulkar regarded the meeting with Bradman as the greatest moment in his life. Particularly so since it came in the wake of the great man having regarded the Indian maestro as one ''who plays like me,'' as he told his wife after watching Tendulkar on TV.
But then Bradman has always had a kind word for Indians. His only visit to India came in the mid fifties when he and Lady Bradman made a brief visit to Calcutta. I have seen a photo of the two of them relaxing at Dum Dum airport in the company of Indian cricket officials, including Pankaj Gupta, with whom Bradman maintained a close relationship ever since 1947-48 when the first Indian team visited Australia. And in his extremely readable autobiography ''Farewell to cricket'' Bradman has devoted a whole chapter on the series with India, terming it as among the most friendliest and enjoyable contests he was involved in. He is handsome in paying tribute to Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad and Dattu Phadkar, the successes of the tour. And he also makes a candid but fair assessment of how, why and where the Indians failed. India, as it may be recalled lost the five match series 0-4 but with the Australians then being an all conquering side, the result was perhaps expected and certainly no disgrace. The fact that Australia beat England 3-0 the previous season and then went on to wallop England 4-0 during the 1948 summer will put the result against India in its true perspective.
The series against India saw Bradman amass his usual quota of runs, 715 to be precise at an average of 178.75. He hit 185 in the first Test at Brisbane, 132 and 127not out in the third Test at Melbourne and 201 in the fourth Test in Adelaide. He retired with cramps after making 57 in the fifth Test at Melbourne. His only failure came in the second Test at Sydney when Hazare bowled him for 13. But Bradman will perhaps remember the Indian tour most for the fact that he got his 100th hundred in first class cricket against the visitors. This was while playing for an Australian XI in November and as he himself has noted, it was a very special moment.
Among the innumerable fan mail that Bradman receives even now, many of them are from India. Like in every cricketing country, Bradman is held in high esteem in India by young and old. Two whole generations have grown up in this country since Bradman's retirement from first class cricket 50 years ago. But the countless cricket books, TV interviews and the many videos about him have seen to it that Don Bradman will have a never ending stream of new fans.
Source :: CricInfo365