Chris Waters: When Don Bradman bade fond farewell at Scarborough
SEVENTY years ago this very day, the great Don Bradman embarked on his final match in England.
It took place at a ground that many of you will know well, Scarborough’s magnificent North Marine Road.
On September 8, 1948, Bradman led out his Australian team against HDG Leveson-Gower’s XI.
The Leveson-Gower XI played annually against the visiting touring side at the Scarborough Festival, and their line-up contained Yorkshire’s Len Hutton and Norman Yardley.
After the hosts won the toss, they reached 94-2 on a rain-affected first day, Hutton bowled for a duck by Ray Lindwall.
On day two, they were dismissed for 177 before the Australians reached 140-1 at stumps, Bradman unbeaten on 30 after arriving at the crease around half-an-hour before the close.
On day three, Bradman was escorted to the crease by two burly policeman as a crowd estimated at around 17,000 gathered to witness his last innings on English soil.
‘The Don’ reached his hundred shortly before lunch, his 11th of the tour, and then stepped up the pace after the break, treating the crowd to some sparkling strokes.
Finally, when he had made 153, Bradman was caught in the covers by Hutton off a wild hack at Alec Bedser, Bradman accepting his fate to the extent that he had already sprinted halfway back to the pavilion before the ball landed in Hutton’s hands.
The Australian cricketer-cum writer Jack Fingleton noted: “He continued running, bat, gloves, cap and bat fluttering from his hands, and almost before this huge Yorkshire crowd at the Scarborough Festival had had time to warm its hands in appreciation to him, Bradman was lost to view forever as a first-class batsman on an English ground.”
Bradman’s innings, which came two weeks after his 40th birthday, was backed up by 151 from Sid Barnes before the Australians declared on 489-8, HDG Leveson-Gower’s XI reaching 75-2 before hands were shaken on the draw, Bradman bowling the final over.
By securing a draw in their 31st first-class match of the summer, the Australians became the first side to go through an entire tour of England without losing, earning them ‘The Invincibles’ tag.
Bradman played three more first-class matches in Australia the following winter, finishing with 28,067 runs at 95.14, including 6,996 runs at Test level at an average of 99.94.
Plenty of those runs arrived in Yorkshire, where Bradman had a remarkable record. His century in 1948 was his second in succession at Scarborough, where his previous two innings had been 96 and 132 in the corresponding games in 1930 and 1934.
He had a particularly astonishing record at Headingley, where he scored 963 runs in six innings – 334, 304, 103, 16, 33 and 173no. Such was Bradman’s love affair with Yorkshire that, during the match at Scarborough in 1948, the Yorkshire club conferred on him honorary life membership.
He was presented with a silver salver by Yorkshire president TL Taylor to the cheers of a 14,000-strong crowd.
In accepting the honour, Bradman, referring to his final appearance at Headingley earlier that year, said: “I shall never cherish any memory more than the reception in Leeds. Not only was it the greatest I have ever received in this country, but also the greatest I have ever received from any public anywhere in the world.”