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A National Icon

A National Icon

  Don Bradman surrounded by autograph seeking school-boys, Adelaide Oval, 1958.
 


Don Bradman surrounded by autograph seeking school-boys, Adelaide Oval, 1958.

Don Bradman became a national symbol through his unique physical and mental skills which took him to the highest pinnacle of sporting achievement as a cricketer. This precocious talent was reinforced by his depth of character which in combination yielded a widespread fondness held for him across millions of people regardless of age and nationality. His humble, almost frugal upbringing in Bowral under the watchful eye of his parents largely shaped his character. He learned the value of hard work early and helped his father build the family home. Like many of his generation he learned to be adaptable and used his not inconsiderable intelligence to improve himself despite limited physical resources. He expressed a comfortable self-sufficiency, without judging others, also from an early age which unsettled many whom he met. His diligence in meeting his responsibilities was unwavering and was expressed most poignantly in the reams of correspondence that he undertook to personally reply to the legions of fans who wrote to him from around the World. In essence he was always at ease with himself regardless of the backgrounds with whom he mixed.

During the Great Depression or the early 1930's, Sir Donald helped lift national pride through his cricketing achievements and in doing so lifted people’s spirits. His positive, flowing and rapid batting were a joy to behold. This is probably his greatest legacy along with raising the profile of Australia internationally amongst cricket playing nations.

At the time a higher proportion of the Australian population watched cricket live and listened to it on the radio and there were fewer other past-times to distract people. Bradman was a phenomenon and broke many long-standing cricket records in 1930. He was young, good-looking, respectful, eager and modest. In addition he almost single-handedly won back the Ashes from England when it was expected that England would win. This made Australians feel immensely proud that a young man (he was only 20) from the 'bush' could take on England, the home of cricket, and win. By focussing the nation’s mind on how this country lad could seemingly effortlessly make mother England look incompetent, he freed Australian’s from the mindset that they were somehow a poor colonial outpost.  In this way he helped us to identify ourselves squarely and proudly as Australians.
 

  A staged photograph of Don Bradman in 1946, taken by the Australian Women's Weekly to celebrate the re-commencement of Test Cricket after the Second World War.
 
A staged photograph of Don Bradman in 1946, taken by the Australian Women's Weekly to celebrate the re-commencement of Test Cricket after the Second World War.
In short he made people feel good about themselves and their country and they loved him for it!

Respect for him transcended the sporting arena. Shortly before he retired from cricket he became a much admired speaker, witty, intelligent and insightful who held very high principles. He believed in respect for one's parents, a high sense of duty to one's roles be they as a parent, husband, worker, sportsman or cricket administrator. Despite the incessant adulation he received throughout his entire life Bradman remained unswervingly true to these values.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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