A hero to Australian cricket fans, Sir Donald George Bradman, affectionately known as “The Don,” is considered the greatest batsman of all time. Born on this day in Cootamundra, New South Wales in 1908, Bradman developed his skills by hitting a golf ball off the curved base of a water tank, using a cricket stump, which is much narrower than a bat. The ball came back to him fast and at all angles. “I found I had to be pretty quick on my feet and keep my wits about me,” he said, “and in this way I developed, unconsciously, perhaps, sense of distance and pace.” Using his own unique grip and batting stance, he achieved a lifetime test batting average of 99.4, which many consider to be one of the greatest achievements by any athlete in a sport.
He made his debut in 1927 at 19 years old, in a first-class match between his New South Wales team and Adelaide, scoring a “century”—118 runs, to be exact—in his very first match. He was so talented and so consistent, he averaged at least one century every three innings over the course of his 21-year test match career. He amassed a total of 6,996 runs in 52 Test matches—making him a top contender for the title of best cricketer to ever step on a pitch. When Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack polled 100 former cricketers and journalists to determine the top cricketers of the 20th century, “The Don” was nominated by all 100.
Through the 1930s and 40s, Bradman set the world standard in the sport, scoring 309 runs in one often-cited game at Headingley Cricket Ground in England. After his retirement he remained a fixture in the cricket world as an administrator and commentator. Bradman was honored with a museum during his lifetime, called the “the greatest living Australian” by the Prime Minister, and knighted in 1949. Despite the accolades he earned, he remained a courteous and modest man.
Happy Birthday Sir Donald!