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Thread: The Bradman Letters !!

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    The Bradman Letters !!

    The cricket world is abuzz today with the unearthing of six letters written by Bradman to Bob Parish and Alan Barnes Chairman and Secy respectively of cricket Australia between 1969 and 1978. The letters cover a variety of controversial subjects including South Africa and apartheid, the Packer affair and chucking.

    Here are the six letters.

    Letter number 1. to Bob Parish - Oct 1973

    Letter number 2 to Alan Barnes - May 1969

    Letter number 3 to Bob Parish April 1976

    Letter number 4 to Bob Parish March 1978

    Letter number 5 to Bob Parish - February 1969

    Letter number 6 to Bob Parish - April 1978

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    Bradman's 'official' letters discovered
    Cricinfo staff
    August 17, 2008

    Private letters written by Don Bradman, mostly to former Australian board chairman Bob Parish, have been discovered by Cricket Australia just days before his birth centenary on August 27. The subjects of the letters range from the ban on tours to South Africa during the apartheid era, remuneration for players, and World Series Cricket.

    Bradman was an administrator of the game for 35 years. In 1960 he was appointed the Australian board chairman - he served another term later that decade - and dealt with problems like chucking and apartheid during his tenure.

    The letters, published in several Australian papers on Sunday, reveal Bradman favoured giving bowlers a fairer deal as he suggests the lbw law be tweaked so that batsmen are given out for deliveries that pitch outside off and leg stump, provided they don't offer a shot.

    Bradman wrote against a move to get the Australian government to intervene in the television rights issue that cropped up during Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (he described Packer's media promotions"propaganda"). He wrote to Parish: "I would not willingly support any move to have government interference in TV rights, which may control Packer because, as I have said many times before, it would inevitably bring control of the fees that may be paid."

    The ban on touring South Africa, Bradman wrote, had moved cricket from the sporting basket and in to the political basket. "... not of our wish or doing, but by fate". In April 1978 he wrote to South African cricket chief Joe Pamensky: 'Unfortunately I am despondent in believing that although your cricketers have done everything you can in S.A., ... countries will now come out with the verdict, the political verdict, that they can't play in S.A. so long as Apartheid is government policy. Regrettable too, our Prime Minister, gives the impression he thinks the same way ...

    "I think you will get a good and sympathetic hearing from the cricket fraternity in London but what use is that if the powers that be won't let tours take place ..."

    Evidence of his foresight lies in a letter on the problem of throwing in cricket. Bradman writes that it would be crazy to return to an earlier situation where there was no definition for throwing. "Those who claim recent events may have rectified the trouble may well be right - IN THE SHORT TERM. But in 10-20 years it would certainly return and be a bogey once more, and I think our responsibility is to provide now against such a contingency." According to Bradman, the best way to test a bowler's action is during a match where he is bowling flat out and does not know he is being filmed.

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    Rod Nicholson - Herald Sun
    August 17, 2008 12:00am
    CRICKET Australia recently discovered a box covered in dust and cobwebs.

    Within was a treasure trove of confidential letters written by Sir Donald Bradman during his days as one of the game’s most influential administrators.

    The letters, never before published, reveal the influence, lateral thinking, common sense, but also the deep conservatism that characterised Bradman.

    A sample of them, most written to the then Australian Cricket Board chairman Bob Parish, shows The Don was at the centre of some of the hottest issues that would determine the destiny of world cricket.

    It paints him as a conservative who held the traditions of the game in high regard, but also as a pragmatic negotiator who could see and accept the inevitable.

    The letters reveal Bradman was “despondent” at bans on cricket tours to South Africa during the apartheid era, but that he saw them as a political reality over which cricket authorities could have little influence.

    His famous frugality is also evident in a passage from one letter in which he says he regards $20 a day as “ample remuneration” for players.

    The letter was written shortly before his now infamous fight with the then Test captain, Ian Chappell, over player payments.

    It is clear he intended to ensure funds were available to grassroots and for the future of the game.

    His thoughts in this letter demonstrate his thinking that players should play for the love of the game rather than financial gain.

    He also argued that payments for Test cricket should not be overshadowed by one-day international payments.

    Bradman took a behind-the-scenes position during the World Series dramas, but was on a special committee to deal with the threat to board control.

    In a letter dated March 21, 1978, he summed up the dangers of seeking government interference in television rights and suggested an avenue of attack to combat Kerry Packer’s media promotions, which he described as “propaganda”.

    He also wrote frankly about the continuing apartheid dramas and passed comment about the late David Hookes and his involvement with World Series Cricket.

    Bradman was responsible for introducing a national player code of behaviour, following a series of incidents culminating in an indiscretion by Rod Marsh.

    He methodically explained in this letter what was wrong with the system, how it could be fixed and why fixed penalties were unacceptable.


    Bradman, the greatest batsman who played, was conscious of the fact that the public wanted entertainment and, equally, that bowlers should not have a level playing field.

    One letter suggested that a batsman should be given out LBW if he did not play at the ball – even if it was pitched outside leg stump. His overriding thinking was that such a law change would be an encouragement to leg spinners.

    He also said that administrators who devised a way of ridding cricket of the scourge of throwing would be doing the game a great service.

    Bradman is Australia’s greatest sportsman and most celebrated citizen.

    As the nation celebrates his final century on August 27 – the date of what would have been his 100th birthday – the new letters show while an incomparable batsman, who averaged an incredible 99.94 in Test cricket, Bradman was also a tough and able administrator whose skills and leadership were an influence on the establishment of a national identity.


    The International Who’s Who selected Bradman as one of only two Australians among the top 100 people who had done the most to shape the 20th century. The other was Rupert Murdoch.

    And Bradman was one of only three athletes selected in that illustrious group, the other two being boxer Muhammad Ali and soccer player Pele.

    Bradman’s cricketing feats are extraordinary – the boy from the bush who took on and conquered the world of cricket as none had done before, or since.

    While Bradman, who died in 2001, will be remembered eternally for his deeds as a cricketer, he also was an outstanding contributor to the game as a selector and administrator. He was an expansive thinker, philosopher and writer on the sport.

    Indeed, in some respects, he was as powerful, persuasive and influential a figure off the ground as he was on it.

    He was appointed an Australian Test selector in 1936, a post he held until 1971 – aside from two years in the early 1950s, giving him a 33-year period in the role.

    Bradman was a committeeman of the South Australian Cricket Association between 1935 and 1986.

    It is estimated that he attended 1713 SACA meetings during this half-century of service.

    He was elected to the Australian Board of Control in August 1945.

    In 1960 he became the first former Test player to be elected chairman of the Australian Board of Control.

    He served as chairman from 1960-63 and again from 1969-73.

    During the first period he dealt with the growing prevalence of illegal bowling actions in the game, a problem that he adjudged “the most complex I have known in cricket, because it is not a matter of fact, but of opinion”.

    The significant controversy of his second stint was a proposed tour of Australia by South Africa in 1971-72. On Bradman’s recommendation, the series was cancelled and instead he instigated a multinational Rest of the World team tour.

    Bradman remained a member of the Australian Cricket Board of Control until 1980 – giving him 35 years as one of the nation’s premier administrators.

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    Excerpts from the letters.

    To South African cricket chief Joe Pamensky on future tours to South Africa during the Apartheid era, April 1978.

    ‘Unfortunately I am despondent in believing (as I have always said) that although your cricketers have done everything you can in S.A., ... countries will now come out with the verdict, the political verdict, that they can’t play in S.A. so long as Apartheid is Gov’t policy. Regrettable too, our Prime Minister, gives the impression he thinks the same way ...

    “I think you will get a good and sympathetic hearing from the cricket fraternity in London but what use is that if the powers that be won’t let tours take place ...

    The subject is now so political that I can’t see us playing in S.A. ... we have the problem of our Gov’t, the unions and the demos.``


    As South Australian delegate to the Australian Cricket Board
    to ACB Chairman Bob Parish on the subject of player payments, October 1973.

    ‘... the S.A. delegates ... were firm in their view that $20. p.day was ample remuneration, and ... they thought the allowances to manager and captain were adequate.

    ... For Sheffield Shield matches I think your suggestion is as good as one could devise. It is a big slice to give the players 50% of the cake but if it saves us paying more or establishing a fund, it may pay off. If this eventuates, God only knows what will happen in the first season after wards sponsorship is withdrawn. The players will still expect the same and they won’t be worrying about where the money comes from.``


    To Bob Parish on the threat of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, March 1978.

    ‘I would not willingly support any move to have government interference in T.V. rights which may control Packer because, as I have said many times before, it would inevitably bring control of the fees that might be paid.

    “Re The Media. I agree your remarks. There is no doubt the Packer protagonists are cleverly using the press for propaganda purposes. I see no clear cut solution but I believe the only hope is for you, personally, to see the executive heads of all these papers, privately, and explain the position to them and ask for their support in the interests of national cricket. And I think it ought to be done well in advance of next summer.


    To Bob Parish on the subject of bowlers throwing, February 1969.

    ‘But I think it germane to say that throwing has been a recurring evil for nearly 100 years and if modern legislators can devise ways and means of curing this evil once and for all, they will do cricket a great service.

    Moreover I think it is powerful evidence in support of my view that we would be crazy now to revert to the old situation where we had no definition.”

    ... I don’t need to tell you of the heated arguments that went on about Griffiths and Meckiff and I’m sure you agree that there ought to be some yardstick whereby such arguments can be settled...

    Here we are trying to settle a principle – something vital to cricket in all countries for all time. Nobody doubts that our definition is clear cut and that anyone obeying it would bowl fairly. BUT IT IS REFUSED BECAUSE ENGLAND HAS FOUND JUST THE ODD CASE WHICH THEY SAY MIGHT BE JUDGED UNFAIRLY.


    To Bob Parish on David Hookes and his involvement with World Series Cricket and Kerry Packer, March 1978.

    ‘David Hookes won the “Sportsman of the year” award here last night on channel 9. He was interviewed and asked direct by Michael Charlton “With hind sight, would you do the same again”? David replied “I can’t very well answer that – I am on
    Channel 9”.



    But he went on to say the “younger” members of the Packer troup sincerely believed there should be a get together between the parties and clearly he is feeling his position very keenly....

    To Bob Parish on the subject of punishment for Rod Marsh after a swearing incident, April 1976.

    ‘... I now understand that the Board members as a whole have agreed that Marsh be severely reprimanded. No doubt this decision was arrived at simply because under all the circumstances the Board could not, in practical terms, do anything else. But I’m certain no Board member feels that Marsh has been adequately dealt with
    .


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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Fascinating stuff. Interesting to read the great man's opinions on chucking & (particularly) the proposed changes to the LBW law. His idea of allowing those which pitch outside leg almost give lie to his reputation as a conservative. His sympathy expressed to the SA authorities is more in-keeping with his public image, but the idea that sport & politics shouldn't mix was far from unique amongst men of his generation & background.
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    - As featured in The Independent.

    "The committee discussed the issue of illegal bowling actions, and believed that there are a number of bowlers currently employing suspect actions in international cricket, and that the ICC's reporting and testing procedures are not adequately scrutinising these bowlers."
    - Even the ICC's own official press release thinks things must change

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    Cricketer Of The Year zaremba's Avatar
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    MAN WITH VERY HIGH BATTING AVERAGE WRITES LETTERS


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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Zaremba the Heretic!

    You'll be suggesting next that The Don’s motive in supporting a liberalisation of the LBW law was to help protect his own batting records in perpetuity

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    Cricketer Of The Year zaremba's Avatar
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    Pillory me, pelt me with your most rotten fruit and then burn me at the stake while calling me horrid names, yes, I am a heretic.

    I fail to see why, because this particular chap happened to be terrifically good at batting, we need to deify him so that his every last scrap of correspondence needs to be pored over like some Lost Gospel.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Couldn't agree more Mr Z - that's why I threw a molotov cocktail on your remark

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    Cricketer Of The Year wpdavid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Fascinating stuff. Interesting to read the great man's opinions on chucking & (particularly) the proposed changes to the LBW law. His idea of allowing those which pitch outside leg almost give lie to his reputation as a conservative. His sympathy expressed to the SA authorities is more in-keeping with his public image, but the idea that sport & politics shouldn't mix was far from unique amongst men of his generation & background.
    Yes, I would think that his views on SA's isolation were entirely typical of his generation of cricketers and beyond.

    btw I read your link to the Indy out of interest and was astonished to see one of my own less measured comments there for all to read. Fame at last.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    There was a thread on the matter, will be a few pages back

    As for Bradman, I must say I found it interesting with regards his views on the lbw law. From memory there are not many on CW who would agree.
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    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    MAN WITH VERY HIGH BATTING AVERAGE WRITES LETTERS

    How they got notoriety becomes moot as the views are quite interesting.
    The speed at which a fielding team gets through the innings is overrated.

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    RTDAS pasag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    MAN WITH VERY HIGH BATTING AVERAGE WRITES LETTERS

    I'd rather read about his opinions on cricket before anyone else's on this site. Not only that but he was an expert on the game and had a greater knowledge of it then perhaps anyone else in his generation. He had a brilliant cricketing mind which makes the finding of letters with him discussing cricket excellent news. He wasn't just some idiot with a high batting average.
    Rest In Peace Craigos
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    Quote Originally Posted by pasag View Post
    I'd rather read about his opinions on cricket before anyone else's on this site. Not only that but he was an expert on the game and had a greater knowledge of it then perhaps anyone else in his generation. He had a brilliant cricketing mind which makes the finding of letters with him discussing cricket excellent news. He wasn't just some idiot with a high batting average.
    Completely agree.

    Bradman was a highly intelligent man and, more so, a thinking man - the two do not always go together unfortunately. Yes, he was opinionated - again something one expects to find a thinking man to be. Even when one did not agree with him, it was always worthwhile to hear his views and still is after he is gone.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Burgey's Avatar
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    And in fairness he was also a long-time administrator, so from that point of view his private thoughts on a number of these issues are pretty interesting IMO.
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