Cow Corner

On This Day: Donald Bradman makes the ‘greatest ever innings’

Donald Bradman

JANUARY 6, 1937: Don Bradman scores 270 against England in ‘greatest ever innings’

Cricket legend Don Bradman scored a record 270 runs for Australia against England on this day in 1937 in what has been described by many as the greatest ever innings.

His feat, which enabled his country to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Ashes series Down Under, remains the highest score by a No 7 batsman.

Bradman, who had recently taken over as captain, went on to lead Australia to a 3-2 victory – with a British Pathé newsreel recording the final Test in Melbourne.

He went on to help his country retain the Ashes three more times and on the way averaged a seemingly unbeatable 99.94 runs per Test innings.

But back at the start of 1937, Bradman - who later became Sir Donald, although is generally known to Australians as The Don – was not the fabled figure he became.

He had been shut down by his English opponents, whose bowlers had twice got him out for a duck, and was not popular as captain with both his fellow players and fans.

That all changed in the third Test at Melbourne, which in those days, before Perth was considered a suitable venue, often staged two of the then six-day encounters.

Few could imagine that after being dismissed for 13 in the first innings that Bradman, who opted to open the batting, would have such an impact on the match – but he did.

He came to bat at 3pm on the third day – with Australia 221 ahead and with everything to play for or lose.

That afternoon, between rain showers, he hit 56.

The following day, with wall-to-wall sunshine greeting the all-time record crowd – some 350,534 saw the Test unfold over five days – he quickly confounded his critics.

Within an hour he had reached a century and by the close of play that day, he had scored 248. He scored his remaining 22 runs the following day.

When England returned to bat, they did well to score 323 – but still ended up losing by 365 runs.

Years later the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack judged Bradman’s display as the greatest innings in history.

In the fourth Test, he scored 212 and in the fifth 169 – enabling Australia to become the only nation to come back 2-0 down in a five-Test series.

Bradman, who was born in the bush village of Cootamundra, New South Wales in 1908, went on to earn the highest ever career average during his 80 Test innings.

He needed just four runs in his final match at the Oval in 1948 in order to secure an average of a century after reaching 101.39 beforehand.

But he was bowled out for a duck in the first innings and – following an England batting collapse – he wasn’t required to bat in the second for his “Invincibles” to win.

He finished his career just shy of that golden century with an average score of 99.94.

The next most prolific batsman is current Indian star Cheteshwar Pujara, who has averaged 65.55 in his 22 innings to date.

And, without a six-year hiatus during World War II, Bradman might have also topped the all-time run ranking, which is led by India’s Sachin Tendulkar with  15,921 runs.

Bradman, who died aged 92 in 2001, remains the most revered of all Australian sportsmen – and he has also won tremendous praise in England.

As early as 1939, the Royal Navy named one of its ships HMS Bradman, which unlike The Don was quickly sunk - after being attacked by German planes in 1940.

Back home, his face now adorns the country’s 20-cent coin and he was the first living Australian to feature on one of is postage stamps.

Chris Parsons