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Bradman in Wisden Ed. by Graeme Wright

Release date: 26th August, 2008
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books

List Price: £18.99
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Bradman in Wisden
Edited by Graeme Wright
Hardie Grant Books

4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £13.19, saving 34% on rrp

Weather-wise, it's been another dreary week, although Stuart Broad's sparkling one day performance against South Africa at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, during which he took a magnificent 5-23, did at least provide a modicum of much-needed sunshine. The tourists were poor, but dismissing them for 83, even in a slog-fest, will have given England great heart as they ready themselves for what promises to be Australia's considerably sterner Ashes challenge next season.

Broad's heroics were welcomed by English cricket fans as evidence of an essential resurgence ahead of the autumn's tour to India, yet neither good but isolated bowling, nor batting, performances doth one summer make. This became perfectly clear the following day when sports enthusiasts everywhere celebrated the centenary of Sir Donald Bradman's birth.

Despite being at his playing peak either side of the Second World War, Bradman's appeal has hardly diminished; in fact, since his death in February 2001 at the age of 92, it could be argued that the extent of his achievements have become even more widely appreciated. Anoraks love browsing through his astonishing record: in 52 Test matches comprising 80 innings, he scored an astonishing 6,996 runs, including a remarkable 334 against England at Headingley in 1930. Upon his retirement from the international game, his Test average was 99.94.

Cricketing romantics love Bradman because so many of the tales told about him form the very cornerstone of the game's rich literary tradition while cricket's purists admire him in a slightly melancholic way, for they appreciate they will never see his ilk again.

It's worth recalling that in scoring more than 28,000 first class runs (at an average of 95.14), Bradman only ever used a comparatively lightweight 2lb 2oz bat. As his former team-mate Neil Harvey recalled earlier this week, had he possessed one of the standard heavy bats used by today's players, "he wouldn't have averaged 99.94. He'd have averaged 199.94."

It was Harvey who technically prevented 'The Don' from reaching a Test career average of 100 when scoring the winning runs for Australia at Headingley - with Bradman undefeated on 173 at the other end. One Test match remained after Leeds - at the Oval, where Bradman required just four to push his international average into three figures. Warwickshire wrist spinner Eric Hollies took the ball after Bradman had walked out to a standing ovation in his final match. What followed was the most famous duck in cricket's distinguished history, one which caused an eerie silence to descend upon the south London crowd.

This and many more Bradman-related tales are to be found in a wonderful book, Bradman in Wisden, scheduled to be published on Monday.

Editor Graeme Wright has updated and expanded "Wisden on Bradman" which first appeared a decade ago and what a delight it is. Yes, all of the statistics are here, but so too is a collection of essays and articles dating back eighty years which celebrate Bradman's life and his unique contribution to cricketing history. Few fans will be aware that Bradman also wrote for Wisden and his contributions are included in this marvellous tome.

Wright has not sought to amend Wisden's timeless, evocative style, which can sometimes happen in such compilations. This makes for a marvellous read, one which can almost remind us of how summers used to be not that long ago÷


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