Home > Features >

Don Bradman and his ducks

© Getty Images
Norman Yardley and his team sings “for he’s a jolly good fellow” as Don Bradman walks out to bat for the last time in his Test career. Two balls later he was dismissed for a duck © Getty Images

Don Bradman averaged 99.94 at the highest level for Australia. The First-Class average, if anything, was lower (95.14), which still remain the highest by a distance. Ducks, thus, are a statistic one does not usually associate with the man. Abhishek Mukherjee lists Bradman’s First-Class ducks.

Don Bradman made 16 First-Class ducks. Surprisingly, seven of them had come in Tests. As we know, if he had scored an aggregate of four from those seven innings he would have finished with a three-digit Test average, which makes the ducks even more unbelievable. (See the photo gallery of Don Bradman’s ducks here)

Volumes have been written about the 29 Tests hundreds; even the 117 First-Class hundreds have been chronicled in detail. The ducks (at least three of them), have been written about a lot as well. Bradman scoring a duck was no mere incident: the duck made it to the main headline on the front page, overshadowing almost all contemporary events.  For those twenty years almost no other news took precedence over Bradman’s ducks. Ask Arthur Morris.

Here, then, is the complete list, and a chronicle:

For Against Season At Format Balls Minutes How out
NSW Queensland 1927-28 SCG Sheffield Shield 1 2 b Francis Gough
Australia West Indies 1930-31 SCG Test 11 b Herman Griffith
NSW Queensland 1931-32 The Gabba Sheffield Shield c Leonard Waterman
b Eddie Gilbert
NSW South Australia 1931-32 SCG Sheffield Shield b Tim Wall
Australia England 1932-33 MCG Test (Ashes) 1 1 b Bill Bowes
Australians Cambridge 1934 Fenner’s Ground Tour match b Jack Davies
Australians Hampshire 1934 Southampton Tour match c Phil Mead
b Giles Baring
South Australia NSW 1935-36 SCG Sheffield Shield c Ray Little
b Bob Hynes
Australia England 1936-37 The Gabba Test (Ashes) 2 1 c Arthur Fagg
b Gubby Allen
Australia England 1936-37 MCG Test (Ashes) 1 1 c Gubby Allen
b Bill Voce
South Australia Queensland 1939–40 The Gabba Sheffield Shield c Les Dixon
b Jack Stackpoole
South Australia Victoria 1940-41 Adelaide Oval First-Class c Morris Sievers
b Walter Dudley
Bradman’s XI McCabe’s XI 1940-41 MCG First-Class c sub (Gordon Tamblyn)
b Jack Ellis
Australia England 1946-47 Adelaide Oval Test (Ashes) 9 10 b Alec Bedser
Australia England 1948 Trent Bridge Test (Ashes) 10 12 c Len Hutton
b Alec Bedser
Australia England 1948 The Oval Test (Ashes) 2 1 b Eric Hollies

1. Before the star was born: At 18 Bradman was considered talented, but hardly a prodigy. He batted at eight that day (and in the second innings) at SCG as New South Wales (NSW) hammered their way to 639 with Alan Kippax — the man David Frith considered the link between Victor Trumper and Archie Jackson — slamming 315 not out in characteristic fashion.

When Bradman came out to bat at 467 for six NSW were already in control. A desperate Leo O’Connor asked for the services of Francis Gough and his leg-breaks: the Boy from Bowral lasted was bowled first ball by Gough, who later finished with three for 100. He picked up only seven more wickets in his entire First-Class career.

2. Griffith fells the hero: West Indies were supposed to be a pushover when they, having been inducted into Test cricket the two years back, visited Australia in 1930-31. With Bradman having scored 974 in Australia’s regaining of The Ashes, nobody expected a contest; things went as expected till the teams reached SCG for the final Test.

The quartet of Learie Constantine, Manny Martindale, George Francis, and Herman Griffith had won the hearts of the tourists. Griffith, a genuine quick in his heydays, was 37 at the time of the Test. The wily Jackie Grant set Australia 251 on a wet pitch. Bill Woodfull and Bill Ponsford added 49 before Bradman walked out.

Constantine later wrote in Cricket and I that Bradman’s wicket “came after a skilful, teasing series of deliveries from (Herman) Griffith, and demoralised the Australians.” Australia lost by 30 runs.

3. The fastest ball he faced?: At 5’7” and 57 kg, nobody expected the little aborigine Eddie Gilbert to bowl express, let alone trouble Bradman. His rise was astronomical (both for his suspect action and his incredible pace), but his career did not last long enough: he could not make it to the biggest stage. That over from hell at The Gabba is not something historians are likely to forget.

After Gordon Amos skittled out Queensland for 109, Jack Fingleton saw off “Pud” Thurlow’s first over. Then Gough (remember the man?) summoned Gilbert. Wendell Bill could only protect his throat; as the ball brushed his gloves and went to the wicket-keeper. Bradman walked out. Could the new menace get the better of the champion?

Most would have been intimidated by the grandeur of the contest. Not Gilbert. He turned out to be express —faster than Bradman’s estimates. Bradman was pushed back by pace, but being Bradman, he still managed to keep out the first ball he faced. The second bounced, but was outside leg-stump and Bradman let it go. The next beat Bradman’s bat and thudded into the big gloves behind him.

The fourth was a snorter: it hit Bradman on the underbelly and left him gasping for breath; his bat was knocked out as an impact. He reeled in agony, and it took him time to resume batting. The spectators got to the edges of their seats as Gilbert steamed in again. Has Bradman recovered?

Gilbert produced another brute, similar to the previous ball; Bradman, how desperate to protect both ego and the wicket, tried to counterattack, but the resultant top-edge landed in the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Bradman later acknowledged: “The keeper (Leonard Waterman) took the ball over his head, and I reckon it was halfway to the boundary.”

He also admitted that those five balls were “were unhesitatingly faster than anything seen from [Harold] Larwood or anyone else.” The dismissal, combined with his performance in the Bodyline series the following season, gave Bradman’s critics fodder about his weakness against genuine pace.

4. Coming up against Wall: The Sheffield Shield contest of 1935-36 between New South Wales and South Australia at SCG was a clash between two captains who served cricket and became legends in their respective fields: Bradman and Alan McGilvray. Incessant rain meant that they could start play only late on Day Two.

Bradman walked out after Ronald Parker was dismissed by Ted White. Bradman walked out, and a few minutes into the innings, holed to Ray Little off the left-arm fast-medium bowling of Bob Hynes. South Australia were bowled out for 94 (Ted White took eight for 31) but time ran out for New South Wales.

5. What Bodyline? Douglas Jardine’s men had come with the sole purpose of taking the urn back. Bradman had missed the first Test of the Bodyline series at SCG due to contract issues, but was back for the second. Woodfull had decided to bat at MCG, and Australia lost Fingleton and Leo O’Brien with 67 on the board. Bradman had been pushed back to four.

He walked out amidst tumultuous applause. Bradman took a long, semicircular route to the crease. This served two purposes: he could wait for the applause to subside and could get accustomed to the light. Bill Bowes, the bespectacled man who looked anything but intimidating, ran in.

What did Bowes do before he started his run-up? He later recollected in Express Deliveries: “It was deafening. I had to stop in the middle of my run-up and wait for the noise to subside.  To fill in time, I asked my mid-on to move up to silly mid-on. Once again I began my run. Once again came the terrific roar.  Once again I had to stop. This time I moved my fine-leg fieldsman on the boundary edge.  I saw Don (Bradman) eyeing these changed field positions with a look of determination. Then the thought flashed through my mind, ‘He expects a bouncer — can I fool him?”

Bradman fell for it. He did expect the bouncer to come: he played a premeditated pull, only to realise that the ball was pitched on a length. He tried to make a last-moment adjustment, but could only get an edge; the ball hit timber; and MCG turned into a graveyard.

Bowes later recalled: “The crowd was stupefied. [Don] Bradman walked off the field amid a silence that would have been a theatrical producer’s triumph. The spell was broken by a solitary woman’s clapping. The feeble sound rippled above the hushed throng, and then an excited chatter broke out from all parts of the ground. And it was then that I noticed (Douglas) Jardine. Jardine, the sphinx, had forgotten himself for the one and only time in his cricketing life. In his sheer delight at this unexpected stroke of luck, he had clasped both his hands above his head and was jigging around like an Indian doing a war dance.”

6. A student’s moment of glory

Jack Davies never played Tests, though he had a decent career with Kent on either side of World War II; he also played rugby union, and was a noted psychologist (he became the chief psychologist in the Directorate of Personnel Selection as well as an Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

The men who had turned up for Australia’s tour match against at Fenner’s Ground were disappointed. They saw Australia pile up 481 for five (with Bill Brown scoring a hundred and Ponsford getting a double) and bowl out the students for 158 (Grimmett took nine) and 160.

The defeat, however, was almost expected: what was not expected was what Davies did. The crowd was just warming up when he had dismissed Woodfull; a few minutes later he clean bowled Bradman — for what was his first duck on English soil.

7. Baring the defence Hampshire had surprised the tourists twice, first by recovering from 19 for two to 326 for three, and then by getting bowled out for 420. Young Giles Baring was known to be quite quick (again!); Bradman walked out after Brown had fallen for a duck, and tried to hit out early in the innings. He mistimed the ball, and responding to the Hampshire yell of “catch it!” Phil Mead made no mistake.

8. A little wicket: The Sheffield Shield contest was a clash between two captains who served cricket and became legends in their respective fields: Bradman and Alan McGilvray. Bradman walked out after Ronald Parker was dismissed by Ted White. Bradman walked out, and a few minutes into the innings, holed to Ray Little off the left-arm fast-medium bowling of Rob Hynes.

9. Allen strikes: The 1936-37 Ashes was, to cut things short, heavily dependent on Bradman. He scored two ducks in the first two Tests and Australia lost both; he scored 270 (considered by many as the greatest-ever innings) in the third Test to seal a victory; and scored hundreds in the last two to clinch the series.

It was Bradman’s first Test as captain. England had obtained a 124-run lead (Bradman had scored a brisk 57-ball 38 before being caught by Stan Worthington at gully off Bill Voce). They were set a difficult, but not impossible, 381 — but then it rained, and Voce and Gubby Allen bowled unchanged to skittle Australia for 58.

Bradman had held himself back, sending in Morris Sievers at three and Bert Oldfield at four. Allen removed Sievers with the fourth ball of his second over, and Bradman walked out with the score on seven for three. He survived the first ball that shot up to his chest, but tried a prod off the next ball; it landed in the hands of Arthur Fagg at third slip, and that was that.

10. After Allen, it’s Voce: This time it was Wally Hammond’s turn to rise to the occasion: a sublime 231 not out helped Allen to declare at 426 for six the moment it started to shower. O’Brien fell in the seventh ball of Voce’s first over. Allen had five slips for Bradman, which was probably the reason for him trying to play it towards square-leg.

Allen accepted the catch gleefully; Bradman was out thrice in four balls in his Test career, Australia were bowled out for 80, and lost by an innings.

11. Queensland and The Gabba, again: It was Bradman’s third duck against Queensland, and the third at The Gabba as well. Bradman had elected to bat in the Sheffield Shield last Sheffield Shield season before World War II; he went in when Jack Stackpoole had Thomas Klose caught-behind, and fell immediately, caught by Les Dixon. He carved out 97 in the second innings to help set a target of 350, but Brown’s hundred helped Queensland reach 214 for one; they won by two wickets.

12. During The War: Sheffield Shield had come to a halt due to The War, but a handful of matches were still played. Bradman managed to pick up two ducks in the two matches played in the season (he finished with 18 runs at 4.50). The first of these came against Victoria at Adelaide Oval.

Bradman walked out after Kenneth Ridings was run out for a duck. He was up against the young speedster (again!) Walter Dudley, and merely holed out to Sievers. Jack Badcock’s hundred and Grimmett’s bowling, however, turned out to be more than a handful for Victoria, who lost comfortably.

13. Ellis’ moment of glory: The fundraising match between Bradman’s XI and McCabe’s XI had a mismatched bowling attack: while McCabe had O’Reilly and Grimmett (neither of whom was particularly fond of the great man), Bradman had to do with lesser mortals. After Badcock and Sid Barnes scored hundreds and allowed McCabe to declare at 449 for nine, thus, the match was reduced to a no-contest.

Bradman walked out after Brown fell early to Jack Ellis. Ellis struck gold again, by having Bradman caught by substitute fielder Gordon Tamblyn, and the two legends shared 16 wickets to lead McCabe’s XI to an innings victory. The main purpose was served, though: a crowd of 20,538 had resulted in revenue of £923.

14. Bedser’s peach: The Ashes resumed after war with Hammond’s men playing in the brightest of moods and Bradman pushing for ruthless victories. It was not quite the “goodwill series” Hammond had wanted, or expected, it to be. They were crushed by the Australian juggernaut at The Gabba and SCG, and by the time the sides reached Adelaide Oval for the fourth Test the Ashes had already been retained.

The Test is usually remembered for the twin tons of Morris and Denis Compton, the first time two men had achieved the feat in the same Test. Australia drew the Test, but there was no shortage of drama in their first innings. After Merv Harvey (Neil’s brother) was dismissed by Bedser, Bradman walked out and struggled for a while against both Bedser and Doug Wright. Then Bedser produced a peach to unsettle the stumps. It was Bradman’s last duck at home.

15. Too easy?: The Invincibles began the Test series on a high note at Trent Bridge: Keith Miller and Bill Johnston bowled out England for 165; Bradman and Lindsay Hassett amassed hundreds to provide the tourists a 344-run lead; and despite Compton’s outrageous hundred (184) against Miller and Johnston Australia were left to score only 98.

Bradman walked out at 38 for one to join Barnes. He struggled a bit against Bedser before the Surrey-man swung one into him late; Bradman had not timed it well, and Len Hutton took an easy catch at short fine-leg. There were no further hiccups as Barnes and Hassett polished off the remaining runs.

16. Did he actually cry? Alas, one will never find out whether Bradman had tears in his eyes when he had walked out to bat against Eric Hollies at The Oval. He was greeted with “for he’s a jolly good fellow” by Norman Yardley’s men, but that did moisten his eyes and blur his vision?

John Arlott said on air: “He’s bowled…Bradman bowled Hollies…nought…and what do you say under these circumstances? I wonder if you see the ball very clearly in your last Test in England, on a ground where you’ve played some of the biggest cricket in your life and where the opposing side has just stood round you and given you three cheers and the crowd has clapped you all the way to the wicket. I wonder if you see the ball at all.”

Bradman apparently admitted to Hutton later that he had tears in his eyes; Bedser had also noticed that Bradman had got emotional. Jack Crapp, standing at first slip, had a dig at Bradman’s famous ruthlessness: “The bugger (Don) Bradman never had a tear in his eye his whole life.”

Fingleton and O’Reilly, perhaps the strongest members of the anti-Bradman brigade, were in tears of laughter in the press-box as Bradman’s stumps were shattered — to the extent that a fellow commentator thought they might have had a stroke. Hollies was not happy either: “Best f**** ball I’ve bowled all season, and they’re clapping him,” he told Crapp.

The best line probably came from Morris. He had outscored England in each innings (he scored 196 while the hosts were bowled out for 52 and 188):

“I often say to people, ‘Yes, I was there’.”

“I am asked, ‘Were you playing?’”

“I reply ‘Yes, I got 196.”

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 29, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

More

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 124 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 25 runs

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)

Photos

Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos

Videos

AB de Villiers: Disappointed with defeat in Australia

Sachin Tendulkar express shock on Phillip Hughes’ death

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) must be disqualified, says Supreme Court

Virat Kohli mourns Phil Hughes’ death

Phil Hughes passes away: Twitter reactions

Australia Bangladesh Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 England India India tour of Australia 2014-15 Pakistan Phil Hughes head injury South Africa Sri Lanka Zimbabwe Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh 2014 Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh 2014

Sachin Tendulkar express shock on Phillip Hughes’ death

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) must be disqualified, says Supreme Court

Virat Kohli mourns Phil Hughes’ death

Phil Hughes passes away: Pakistan-New Zealand 3rd Test Day 2 to begin an hour late

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 3rd Test at Sharjah, Day 2

Moeen Ali becomes third fastest centurion for England in ODIs

Ishant Sharma — Is his current ODI form good enough to earn him a place in ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

The birth of Day Night cricket matches

Phillip Hughes head injury: Are helmets making batsmen complacent?

Daniel Vettori becomes the most capped New Zealand player

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

682 Posts | 6 Fans

Video: Phil Hughes suffers head injury, collapses on field during New South Wales vs South Australia tie

Bigg Boss: Hot Pakistani model Veena Malik and husband arrested on blasphemy charges

மணப்பெண் அழகு சரிபார்ப்பு பட்டியல் – உங்கள் திருமணத்திற்கு ஒரு மாதத்திற்கு முன் என்ன செய்ய வேண்டும்

Bigg Boss 8: Is Gautam Gulati out of the house?

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

Scoop: Is Sid Mallya really gay? Watch video to find out!

Microsoft Lumia 535: First non-Nokia low budget Windows smartphone set to be launched today

रितेश-जेनेलिया देशमुख के घर पुत्ररत्न का हुआ जन्म

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here