Cricket lovers celebrates Bradman anniversary

Published: Friday, August 22, 2008, 17:01 [IST]
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BradmanMelbourne: Cricket fans across the world are all set to celebrate the birth centenary of legendary cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman.

Next week will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir Donald Bradman, whose batting average of 99.94 remains a remarkable benchmark in cricket.The event is being used as a chance for dinners, speeches, books and, inevitably, memorabilia sales. Bradman was born in the New South Wales town of Cootamundra and spent a majority of his life in Adelaide, but the anniversary is especially being noted in his childhood home of Bowral, in the New South Wales Southern Highlands.

Bradman's ashes are scattered at the picturesque ground that bears his name, and it's where a museum is dedicated to both the greatest batsman and the sport he dominated. In keeping with Sir Donald's wishes, the centrepiece of the anniversary at the museum isn't the man himself but the largest number of Australian test caps ever brought together.

The collection spans 108 years from Victor Trumper's skullcap from the 1899 ashes tour to Adam Gilchrist's pair of sweat-and-champagne soaked Baggy Greens.

"He was very adamant that it would always be about the wider game, and that's what we are seeking to do," Bradman Museum curator David Wells says.

"Really symbolically show that continuity between the earlier players and the current players."

SCG Trust chairman Rodney Cavalier says the museum is significant to the local cricketers.

"It's very important that country lads know that though they are playing on ant hills, they're playing in remote paddocks, they can and they will play on the Sydney Cricket Ground and at Lord's," he says.

Despite its name, the Bradman Museum is gently moving beyond the Don. Two new galleries are planned, where exhibits will be based on international cricket and the modern game.

Cricket writer Mike Coward says the museum is reaching out to a wider clientele.

"It's been recognised at Bowral by the foundation and the trust of a need to take the Bradman name to a wider audience, and through an international hall of fame, a cricket hall of fame at Bowral, an expansion of the museum to make it even more relevant to all age groups," he said.

Housed in the current collection is a tiny photograph of the Don aged three standing out the front of his family's house at 52 Shepherd Street. It was his home for 13 formative years.

After being a private residence since the Bradmans moved on in 1924, the home is now the prized possession of an avid cricket collector, an Australian businessman who lives and works in the United States.

Rodney Cavalier says the man wishes to remain anonymous.

"This is a man who accumulates cricket memorabilia and photographs, some of which were apparently lost," he says.

"His contribution to the history of cricket has been very important, this collector. And this house will now be back in the hands of someone who desperately loves cricket."

The new owner told the 7.30 Report that he intends to make the home available to other cricket lovers.

But first he has hired heritage architect Ian Stapleton to oversee an expensive restoration of the property to how it was when the young Bradman lived there.

Mr Stapleton says the most sacred cricket site in the home is the now-enclosed verandah, where a rainwater tank was used by Bradman to hone his reflexes by hitting a golf ball with a stump against the corrugated iron.

"Luckily we have the 1932 film footage and that provides a very good basis for us to restore the appearance and finishes of the verandah," he says.

But amid the celebration of the Don's century, those who study cricket believe his legacy is being reassessed against a backdrop of a game increasingly dominated by 20/20 and multi-million-dollar player contracts.

"It's going to be very interesting to see whether the Bradman name is as relevant in 50 years' time, in 100 years' time," Mike Coward says.

"I sense it will never be forgotten - it can't be - because of his achievements were matchless.

"But of course test match cricket in 50 or 100 years' time may not be the most significant form of the game. We don't know what the culture of the game going to be."

But in Bowral, the 100th birthday of their most famous citizen is a time for one more ovation.

"The centenary is probably the biggest thing that will happen for some time. But he will never ever lose his relevance to the game or to people who study the game," David Wells says.

Read more about: australia, icc, scg, ca, bradman, birth centenary
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