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Bradman: The man, the myth... the keeper?

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Roar Guru
21st August, 2021
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Sir Donald Bradman is unarguably Australia’s best cricketer of all time. Averaging the infamous 99.94 in Test cricket and a mere 95.14 in first class, The Don’s combined 146 centuries speak for themselves.

It’s widely known that Bradman would occasionally role the arm over, having taken 36 wickets for New South Wales and South Australia and a further two for Australia, with his wrist-spin. When it comes to Bradman, Australia knows it stuff!

Between the golf ball and the wooden stump to getting out for a duck in his last innings, the anecdotes are endless.

However, there is one Sir Don tale that hasn’t received the attention it deserves: the time that Don Bradman got a stumping when playing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.

In January 1938, The Don geared up to captain his side against his former team of New South Wales.

The scene was set for Bradman to return to the SCG, as over 20,000 flocked to the stands for day 1.

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This New South Wales XI featured Australian internationals Jack Fingleton, Bill O’Reilly, Bert Oldfield, Sid Barnes, Arthur Chipperfield, and captain Stan McCabe, so Bradman’s South Australia had their work cut out for them.

South Australia batted first and, despite a 44 from Bradman and a 49 from Ron Hammence, they were bowled out quite cheaply for 187. During this innings, South Australian wicketkeeper, Charlie Walker, was run out for naught and, by South Australia’s second innings, he was listed as ‘absent hurt’ with an injured finger.

Although when and how the injury occurred has not been recorded, in New South Wales’ first innings, ten lines down on the scorecard it reads, ‘Bill O’Reilly – stumped †Bradman, bowled Ward’. The wicketkeeper icon (†) next to Bradman’s name confirming further that this wasn’t a 1930s typo but instead a recorded fact.

Despite being teammates on the national team for quite some time, Bradman and O’Reilly had a bitter relationship, with O’Reilly later revealing that he was silent on the topic because, “You don’t piss on statues”.

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Although they both talked highly of one-another’s cricketing ability (most of the time), the negative relationship off the field has been believed to have originally stemmed from their different religious beliefs. This feud made Bradman’s stumping of O’Reilly even more noteworthy.

In New South Wales’ second innings, Bradman took three catches from behind the stumps once again.

It’s been recorded that Bradman kept for the entirety of both innings, meaning that he let through seven less byes for the match than experienced Australian-international keeper Bert Oldfield did for New South Wales.

Wisden even went as far as describing Bradman’s keeping performance in the second innings as, “First rate wicket-keeping”.

Bradman went on to score 104 not out in South Australia’s second innings, paired up with Jack Badcock’s 132, but it wasn’t enough as New South Wales won the match by four wickets.

New South Wales would then go on to win that year’s Sheffield Shield, which at the time still featured only four states and eight-ball overs.

No doubt there are hundreds of more hidden gems only one ‘Bradman’ Google search away.

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