Bradman's Best by Roland Perry. Published by Random House NZ Ltd. Price $65.00. Reviewed by Lynn McConnell.
Sir Donald Bradman didn't want the side which forms the basis of Bradmen's Best released while he was still alive.
Apparently he was concerned that his already weighty daily mail would be too much to cope with, even for such a prolific returner of correspondence as Bradman.
Given his choice of players it is not hard to understand why.
Bradman received an average of 400 letters a day. Any appearance in the headlines had instant effect. After his 90th birthday he hit 1600 letters a day. He typed around 80 replies a day to the sensible letters he received.
Enough has been written about his choice, since its announcement to coincide with the publication of this title, that it does not need more analysis.
Although it would be interesting to compare a team named by Bradman with the same application as he applied when at the peak of his selectorial powers, as opposed to responding to author Roland Perry's 'obsession' during the last six years of Bradman's life.
Perry acknowledges in his introduction that over that time frame his interest in Bradman's thoughts was "indulged" by the Australian legend.
For the record, Bradman's selection was: Barry Richards, Arthur Morris, Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Garry Sobers, Don Tallon, Ray Lindwall, Dennis Lillee, Alec Bedser, Bill O'Reilly, Clarrie Grimmett. Wally Hammond (12th man).
Part of the proceeds of this book are to go to the Bradman Memorial Fund. A noble thought.
With that in mind it has to be a disappointment that a more fitting tribute could not have been made.
What Perry has done in writing this book is use a few quotes about each player from Bradman and then summed up, in formulaic fashion, their careers in his own, strictly chronological, fashion.
Given the plethora of books about each of the subjects a more worthy approach for Perry might have been to sit back, take his time and write a considered essay on each to lend some interest to what is a good idea but which is undersold in presentation.
It gets to the point where the similarities in careers, such as those involving Tallon, Lindwall, Bedser and Morris result in the over-lapping in contests, and there are only so many ways you can package the same product. Add in Hammond, O'Reilly and Grimmett at different stages of the same time span as that covered in Bradman's career and there are not many stones left unturned in the game.
The repetition in story line and presentation becomes an irritant, as are achievements continually described as the "first ever" and the "best ever". Are the "first" and "best" not enough?
To those who have seen, read, heard or watched many of the characters represented in Bradman's finest team there will be little that is new in this book.
The greatest feature of this book is the debate that can be based around Bradman's selection.