Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The blossoming of boy Bradman. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘Don’s Century’

Don Bradman practising with stump and golf ball.
This is indeed an amazing story of a simple country boy who traversed from a slab hut on his father’s small farm in the village of Yeo Yeo in New South Wales to become the biggest name that the game of cricket has known. His mother Emily (nee Whatman) travelled twenty-five kilometres to give birth in a small nursing home run by a lady by the name of Mrs. Scholz in a by-lane of the town of Cootamundra, around 380 kilometres south-west of Sydney. Baby Don was born in the front room, with a log fire to keep the Australian winter away. The cottage on 89 Adam Street became a museum, drawing hordes of cricket fans, His parents were Protestants, second-generation immigrants from Suffolk, England, the original surname believed to be Bradnam.

In 1911, when Don was two-a-half years old, the family shifted to Bowral, now a ninety-minute drive from Sydney, in order that his mother, who was keeping indifferent health, would find its salubrious clime refreshing. The other reason, of course, was that destiny beckoned the boy to come and chart the path laid out for him.

The youngest of five children - brother Victor, sisters Islet, Lillian and May - Don helped father George with his woodwork, and as a young lad thought he would turn into a house painter. Picturesque Bowral at 2000 feet in the Southern Highlands, about 110 kilometres south of Sydney, did indeed suit the Bradmans. Its equivalent in India might be Dehra Dun, a valley nestling at a similar altitude between the Shivalik Hills and the foothills of the Himalayas. But this Dehra Dun would not be the present capital of Uttarakhand, or even the earlier bustling town of western Uttar Pradesh. It would actually be the Dehra Dun that was a pensioners’ retreat and institutional haven of the first six decades of the twentieth century, of grey hair and green hedges, of canals, monsoon rivers and Irish bridges, of hills and forests, located equidistant from the holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna. The Bradman family’s fortunes rocketed at Bowral, and George Bradman became a builder in his own right. Within a decade they were living in their three-bedroom bungalow on Shepherd Street, just across a large park. All of Don’s siblings carved out good lives for themselves.

Naturally gifted as he was, lonely Don found refuge in sport. The way he practised with a stump and golf ball is part of folklore, and it revealed from a tender age the single-minded dedication that he was admired, and at times loathed, for. He became reclusive and focussed, and as he grew his goal was to excel at cricket. Success was for him paramount. It came to him in such abundant measure that he left an indelible mark in the annals of the game. In the pantheon of greats, the first name etched in letters of gold is Don Bradman, probably forever.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email
Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).

Don’s Century
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995

Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links:   
A Maharaja’s Turf  ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6   
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket  ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3   
Don’s Century  ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0   
Crowning Glory  ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7

Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110 001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567.

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