D.G. Bradman b Hollies 0

It was on this day 70 years ago (i.e. on 14th August 1948) that the great Australian batsman Sir Donald Bradman played his last Test innings, against England at the Oval. He didn’t know it would be his last knock but Australia won the match by an innings so he never got to bat again in the match, which was the last in the five-match Ashes series that Australia won 4-0.

Bradman needed only to score four runs to finish with a Test batting average of 100, but he was out second ball to the legspinner Eric Hollies, for a duck, and his average was stuck on 99.94.

Here’s a short video of Bradman’s last Test innings, featuring commentary by John Arlott:

Two things struck me when I watched this just now. One is that Norman Yardley’s decision to give Bradman three cheers at the start of his innings may have seemed very sporting at the time, but I’m sure it put the batsman off and I wonder if that was Yardley’s calculated intent?

The second striking thing is the poor state of the pitch, with huge footmarks clearly visible. Although Hollies was bowling round the wicket presumably to exploit them, it’s not clear these played a role in Bradman’s dismissal. It looks to me that he played a loose shot at a full delivery, probably a googly that turned a little. Nevertheless it is worth remembering that batsmen of Bradman’s era had to play on uncovered wickets. I won’t dwell on this point for fear of starting to sound like Geoffrey Boycott, but it does reinforce just how remarkable Bradman’s average really was. Add to that the fact that England had been bowled out on that strip in their first innings for just 52!

Eric Hollies may have been a good bowler, but his record with the bat was at the opposite extreme to Bradman, scoring a total of 37 runs in 13 Test matches, at an average of 5.28. His total of 1,673 runs in first-class matches was 650 fewer than his haul of wickets, and only once (in 1954) did he reach 30 in an innings. In fact, he did not reach 20 in any innings between 1946 and 1953, and equalled an all-time first-class record, between July 1948 and August 1950, of seventy-one consecutive innings without reaching double figures.

Although Australia won the Ashes convincingly in 1948, the Australian camp was not entirely harmonious. The tension therein largely originated in the fact that Bradman was a Protestant and there was a Catholic faction in the touring party that didn’t like him for essentially tribal reasons. Indeed, I’m told that some former Australian players in the Press Box burst out laughing when `The Don’ was out for a duck that day.

11 Responses to “D.G. Bradman b Hollies 0”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    By 1948 the ‘Catholic faction’ in the Aussie Test team, principally Bill O’Reilly and Jack Fingleton, had retired, and Bradman said it was a happy tour. Fingleton it was who cracked up in the press box when Bradman was out, according to Charles Williams’ biography of Bradman.

    Australia won the match by an innings, so there was no second innings in which Bradman could redeem himself. He walked to the wicket before Hollies got him out having scored 6996 Test runs and been out 69 times, for an average of 101.39. After the duck his average was of course 6996/70 = 99.94.

  2. If there was any other faction in the 1948 Australian team it was centred around Keith Miller, who as far as I know was not Catholic or anything religious, but completely at odds with Bradman’s puritanical manner. Bradman seems to have made sure that Miller never became Australian captain.

    On another issue I think that the implication at the end of your third paragraph is way wide of the mark. This was 1948, not the 21st century nor the 1830s. Norman Yardley would never have done that deliberately.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      You are thinking of when Australia were several zillion runs ahead of (I think) Essex in a county match in 1948 and Miller, coming in, got out so that he could go to the racecourse next door, to Bradman’s disgust?

      Miller preferred raising hell with Compton to fraternising with his own dour if superlatively talented skipper. Both men had been fighter pilots whereas Bradman had never seen active service. Miller, when asked whether he ever felt pressure on a cricket field, replied that a Messerschmidt on your tail was pressure. Bradman perhaps put into cricket what Miller put into war.

    • telescoper Says:

      I don’t know enough about Yardley’s character to imply anything. It just seemed very strange to do what he did with a player about to bat. Surely he must have realised it would unsettle Bradman? Also neither Yardley nor anyone else knew at that point that it would be Bradman’s last innings.
      And don’t forget that the Bodyline Tour was 1932-3. Different England captain of course, but ruthless captaincy was not unknown in that era.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Everybody knew it would be Bradman’s last Test in England.

      • telescoper Says:

        Yes, but they didn’t know there wouldn’t be an Australian Second Innings. Not for sure anyway, though the way England batted in the first (all out for 52) I guess it was a reasonable inference!

      • I didn’t know Norman Yardley. I did play a fair bit of cricket with his son, a club cricketer only though still a fair bit better than me. Knowing the way he played the game I doubt that his father would have had anything to do with deliberate underhand tactics.

        This tallies with what you read about him, which includes that he was far too nice to be an effective captain, and that he was utterly distraught about the Boycott affair which happened on his watch as president of Yorkshire.

        I have seen a number of times, maybe not handshakes at the crease, but batsmen being applauded to the wicket, offered a guard of honour even, on their final appearance. I have never, ever heard it suggested that it was done to unsettle them.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Remember the weather Peter! There are other reasons than overwhelming victory why there might not be a second innings.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Bradman became a freemason according to Williams’ biography. Freemasonry is utterly incompatible with Christianity, whether or not you go to church and mouth the Nicene Creed. Catholics understand this better than protestants.

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