@ovshake42 5 minute read
The iconic video footage of Don Bradman’s last Test innings is not entirely from the notorious two balls he faced in that innings.
We have grown up reading about the story. Don Bradman was on his final tour, in England in 1948. Four Tests into the five-match series, his Test average stood at 101.39. He needed only four runs (or to remain unbeaten) to ensure he ended his career with a three-figure average.
We have likely all watched the 30-second video too, particularly since the advent of the internet. Once Sid Barnes fell, Bradman walked down the stairs of The Kia Oval amidst tumultuous applause from a crowd of twenty thousand to face up to Eric Hollies.
Hollies had just dismissed Sid Barnes – the two shared birthdays – caught behind. Barnes did not care. He sprinted to the pavilion for his cine-camera, for the result of the Test match was of little consequence at that point. He had to capture Bradman’s last innings.
England had been bowled out for a mere 52. Australia were 117-1 already. At the crease was Arthur Morris, while Lindsay Hassett, Neil Harvey, Keith Miller, Sam Loxton, & co. waited. It seemed unlikely that Bradman would bat again.
The crowd, thus, joined Norman Yardley’s England team in greeting Bradman at the crease with three cheers. Hollies then strode in: “He bowls, Bradman goes back across his wicket, pushes the ball gently in the direction of the Houses of Parliament, which are out beyond mid-off. It doesn’t go that far as that, merely goes to Watkins in the silly mid-off,” quipped John Arlott on air (the video does not use it).
Hollies bowled again, and the inimitable Arlott narrated the tale: “Hollies pitches the ball up slowly, and – 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.”
Morris made 196 out of a team total of 389. England slumped to an innings defeat. Bradman did not bat again, and ended with – famously – a Test batting average of 99.94.
The now-popular clip, however, is not entirely from Bradman’s innings. While Bradman did face the balls we see, the parts at the bowler’s end were shot later.
It was common for the television crew of that era to focus on the batter’s end alone. Given the occasion, they did specifically that. The action at the bowler’s end was stitched later – though the bowler is indeed Hollies.
As we can see, the much-circulated video shows Hollies bowling round the wicket. It is clear from the photograph of the dismissal that he had bowled Bradman from bowling over the wicket.
Watch Don Bradman’s last Test innings here: