Australia A have idled to a draw with the England Lions, who put up a stubborn resistance in their four-day match in Canterbury.
During the time since Don Bradman retired from Test cricket in 1948, the technique by which he made all those runs has remained dormant and largely ignored.
Also, the reasons given for his success, such as ‘one-off genius’, ‘it’s all in the mind’, and ‘concentration’ (but what kind of concentration?) now appear trite.
The runs are in the book, and they were crafted under all conditions in the days of uncovered pitches.
Whatever the state of the game, and however he felt, like the rest of us, Bradman still had to walk out to the middle and face those first uncertain overs, each ball to be treated on its merits and a proper judgement and response made.
Of late, there has been much discussion as to why some batsmen are able to develop and play long innings, yet most are unable to do so on a regular basis.
Melbourne scientist, Charles Davies, has been quoted as saying: “Bradman’s likelihood of getting out changed in an unusual way as his innings progressed, quite different from any other batsman. For scores below about 15, even though Bradman was very good at avoiding dismissal, his chances of dismissal were still within the range of other great batsmen. Hobbs, for example, was more reliable at reaching double figures.
Once set, however, Bradman’s chance of dismissal plummeted to only one-third of other leading batsmen and above a score of 50 he is way ahead of anyone else in ‘Test’ history.”
Today’s cricketers may well wish to consider and know how any batsman could produce the following conversion rate to high scores and averages: of 338 first class innings, 117 were centuries, 37 of which were turned into scores of over 200 and often many more.
When making these centuries, Bradman’s average score was 173, and on only 15 occasions was he dismissed between 80 and 100.
In Test cricket, he was never dismissed in the 90s, only twice in the 80s, and while scoring 29 hundreds, averaged 185.
In the year of Don Bradman’s centenary, it is particularly important for today’s generation to appreciate how good a batsman he really was, and, even more so, to understand the “Continuous Rotary Batting Process” which provided him with the consistency and capability to bat on and on while producing so many runs.
The following is a quote from a Bradman letter: “In general, I think that many coaches stifle the natural abilities of young players by rigidly insisting that they do not move until the ball is delivered and that they adhere to a perpendicular bat with left hand control.
Movie strips of me batting indicate that I started my backlift before the ball was delivered and that the bottom of my bat was approximately level with the tops of the stumps at the instant of delivery.
But let me hasten to say, my backlift was rather towards second slip, not point as some suggest. The perpendicular bat theory virtually eliminates pull strokes (which can only be played with a cross bat) and square cuts (except by angling the blade which, in turn, is a recipe for giving catches in the slips). I was never conscious that either hand was playing any special part in the initial movement, it was just a natural process.”
Following some 15 years studying what Don Bradman did, said, and wrote, and together with much experimentation, it becomes clear that he batted differently to the methods which are generally taught.
But also, once understood, this proven technique may be adopted successfully by those willing and able to do so, just as any other method of play.