Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Don Bradman.
Recently, critical scholars have begun to question the historical reliability to some of our sources for the life of The Don – a few have even gone so far as to suggest that he may never have really existed. Other’s have piously suggested that we can never go beyond the presentation of The Don through the sport’s journalism and commentary of later ages, we are left with an unbridgeable gap between the Bradman of History and The Don of Faith.
Certainly, there appears to be a layer of ‘myth’ superimposed over the historical framework of his life, batting, and wickets. The modern cricketer finds it incredible to conceive of the young Bradman hitting golf balls against a rain-water tank with a cricket stump. Yet, I think we may agree that there is a firm historical foundation for the traditional life of The Don.
However, far more than in the mere historical details – his birth in Cootamundra (an obscure region of NSW); upbringing in Bowral; persecution by the Poms during the ‘Bodyline’ Series; and famously, the triumph of the ‘Invincibles’ Series – the truth of The Don lies in what he means for us.
The real and enduring power of The Don lies in his ability to bring us together, to triumph against those who had formerly held us in servitude, to expose their emptiness and futility, and to demonstrate a new way of being Australian.
The evidence of this is in our lives.
Yep, the virtues of The Don are basically the only thing I ever agreed with John Howard about. Check out the cartoon by Nicholson.