One of the most hotly debated issues in the history of Cricket is whether Bradman’s records will ever be broken.
The question grabbed international attention a few days ago, when news items such as the following appeared in news papers all over the word,
“Don Bradman records are in danger – Fans erupt as Labuschagne scores third successive Test hundred”
Ever since Don Bradman stormed the world of cricket in the English summer of 1930, the term ‘Bradmanesque’ has become the yardstick to test the ability and class of batsmen. Hundreds of players have vied to attain those lofty standards but several of Bradman’s records still stand, and many are likely to stand the test of time.
The most famous of Bradman’s records is, of course, his Test average of 99.94, just four runs short of 100 and an aggregate of 7,000 runs. No other batsman has finished his Test career with an average in the mid-60s. Great batsmen are hailed for a Test average of 50, half of The Don’s average. So how great was Bradman? What flows from this are his 134.53 runs per Test match, and he played 52 of them of which he did not bat in two.
Bradman’s record of 29 Test centuries at the time of his retirement in 1948 was broken only 35 years later by India’s little opener Sunil Gavaskar. A lot more Test matches have been played in recent decades, and many more hundreds have been scored, with Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the list with 51. But no one has been able to come remotely close to Bradman’s hundreds every 1.79 matches and 2.75 innings.
Bradman’s mark of most centuries against one team still stands, 19 versus England in 37 Tests. Gavaskar is next with 13 hundreds off the West Indies attack in 27 Tests. Bradman scored four hundreds in a series a record three times. Clyde Walcott once notched up five centuries in a series, against Australia in 1955.
Still, the most Test double hundreds stand to the name of Bradman, 12 including 2 triple-centuries. Kumar Sangakkara came close with 11 double hundreds in 134 Tests. The Don smashed the fastest double hundred in terms of minutes, 214 minutes, during the course of his triple-century in a day in the Leeds Test of 1930. Those 309 runs are the most in a day. That feat of hitting a hundred on the first day of a Test before lunch is shared with Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney, Majid Khan, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan. The 334 runs in that innings was the top score in Tests at the time. Bradman’s record of two triple-centuries has been equalled by Brian Lara, Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle.
The record for highest aggregate in a series was set by Bradman, 974 runs in 1930 in 7 innings of 5 Tests against England. The only other batsman to score over 900 runs in a series is his great rival Wally Hammond who logged up 905 runs in 9 innings of 5 Tests in Bradman’s debut series in 1928-29. Bradman hit up 750 runs or more in a series a record four times. He also aggregated the most runs in a series by a captain, 810 in 5 Tests versus England in 1936-37. Incidentally, that is the only instance of a team winning a series after being down 0-2. The next highest by a skipper is 752 runs in 3 Tests by Graham Gooch off the Indian bowling in 1990.
The highest partnership for the 5th wicket in Test matches is still to the credit of Bradman and Sidney Barnes, 405 runs versus England in 1946-47. For Australia, Bradman holds the partnership record for three wickets, all against England; 451 for 2nd wicket with Bill Ponsford in 1934; 405 for 5th wicket with Sidney Barnes in 1946-47; and 346 for 6th wicket with Jack Fingleton in 1936-37.
Similarly, in First-class cricket, Bradman holds several records to this day, most notably, his average of 95.14; most double hundreds, 37 (including 5 triple hundreds and a quadruple hundred); and most triple hundreds, 6 (including a quadruple hundred).
Don Bradman was a phenomenon not seen before, nor ever after. He is so far ahead of other batsmen. No other sport has seen such a huge gap between a champion and the next best. There was a vicious kind of bowling, Bodyline, devised just to contain him after his stupendous series in 1930. He rode that storm and set one benchmark after another. As E.W. Swanton put it aptly and simply: “He went on and on, over after over, hour after hour, hitting the ball with the middle of the bat. There was an inevitability about his play that brought the bowler to despair.”
In the light of all the above facts, the question of Labuschagne or any other batsman breaking Bradman’s records is ridiculous.