‘My fault Bradman didn’t average 100 in Tests’
We all know how cricket’s all-time great Don Bradman fell just four runs short of ending his Test career with a magical average of 100 runs. But one thing we didn’t know before that one of his teammates still feels guilty and believes he was the reason for Bradman not reaching the surreal height.
Australia dismissed England for just 52 runs in the first innings of the match, and went on to pile up a huge total of 389 runs in reply. It was too much for the English, as they could manage only 189 runs in their second innings. And hence, Australia won the match by an innings and 149 runs.
But what’s more important than the result is that it was Don Bradman’s last Test match, and due to England’s disastrous batting, he could not come to bat for a second time. The only time he batted in that match, he was gone even before opening his account. And this leeds to the biggest disappointment in the history of the game.
Bradman had to score just four runs to match his average to 100. But most unfortunate is that he was bowled by England spinner Eric Hollies. However, another Australia legend Neil Harvey feels he was equally ‘guilty’ of denying Don the magical landmark.
In the fourth and penultimate Test of the tour at Leeds Harvey came in to bat at No. 4 after the dismissal of Keith Miller with his team needing four to seal the match. It was Bradman, unbeaten on 173, at the non-strike end. But he never got another hand at the strike, as Harvey smacked the very first ball for four to win the match. Little did he know one day this four could cost Bradman a 100-run average.
It’s 70 years since that Test match at Leeds, but Harvey’s guilt feelings are still there, even at the age of 89. “That four at Leeds makes me feel very guilty. It’s entirely my fault Bradman didn’t average 100 in Test cricket. If he had scored those four runs instead of me, he’d have got there.”
He also added, “I went in and Ken Cranston, a seam bowler from Lancashire, bowled this thing on my leg stump and I whacked it through mid-wicket for four. The public charged onto the ground and I can still remember Bradman yelling, ‘come on son, let’s get out of here.’
“I’am quite willing to take the blame. But I didn’t know he was going to get a duck in his last Test match. Nobody knew Bradman needed four runs at Leeds; nobody knew he needed four runs when he played in his last Test at the Oval.”
As a result of his duck in the final innings he played, Bradman finished with 6996 runs from 52 Tests and average of 99.94 with 29 centuries and 13 fifties.