Sir Donald Bradman is still regarded as the greatest batsman ever to play the game of cricket. Scoring an average of 99.94 runs in Test matches over the course of his 20-year career from 1928 to 1948 by no means is one the greatest achievement a batsman can dream about. It is just not possible anymore.
Bradman was the youngest son of George and Emily Bradman, and was born on 27 August 1908 at Cootamundra, New South Wales. Bradman grew up in an agricultural family. When he was two years old his parents, tired of attempting to scratch out a living on difficult land, moved Bradman, his brother, and his three sisters to Bowral, a small town in the southern highlands of New South Wales, where the climate and soil were more hospitable.
The connection between cricket and World War II is far fetched but there is a very close connection between Bradman and World War II. With no cricket being played at the troubled times – Bradman was busy serving his country. Bradman joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 28 June 1940 and was passed fit for aircrew duty.
The RAAF had more recruits than it could equip and train and Bradman spent four months in Adelaide before the Governor-General of Australia, Lord Gowrie, persuaded Bradman to transfer to the army, a move that was criticised as a safer option for him. Given the rank of Lieutenant, he was posted to the Army School of Physical Training at Frankston, Victoria, to act as a divisional supervisor of physical training.
He was diagnosed with fibrosis and was invalidated out of Army service in June 1941. That was the end of his military career. Had any cricket been played at this time, he would not have been available. Although he found some relief in 1945 when referred to the Melbourne masseur Ern Saunders, Bradman permanently lost the feeling in the thumb and index finger of his (dominant) right hand.
He was back in play for the first postwar tour in 1946-1947 and led Australia to victory. His presence in the game became for many Australians a reminder of “normal,” pre-war life. In 1948, his final year of play, he vowed that he would go the whole season without losing a match, and he did.