The Bradman Phenomenon
by Tony Shillinglaw and Brian Hale
7 - Final Chapter 2 - Nature's Way of Batting
To write this chapter, it has taken Brian and I close on 20 years of practical experimentation, research, discussion, travel, frustration and the much appreciated interest and encouragement of many to do so. Commencing with a blank sheet, the immediacy, consistency and sheer volume of Bradman's run scoring told of a natural batting style and we have found this to be so.
When it came to investigation, however, it always seemed the deeper the theory and greater the sophistication of technique the further away we were from any simple truth. Who could have imagined the natural elements of the repetitive batting process by which all those runs were made would be co-ordinated and in place by the age of eleven, having been fashioned at play in an eight foot space beside the Shepherd Street family home?
Just as Bradman fell into his batting formula by chance, so chance has played its part in our explanation of his play. On a personal level, unlike Bradman, I heeded well meaning advice to change a natural closed face between the feet style which had served me well to the recommended orthodoxy of top hand control with the bat placed behind the rear foot. As a result, I have experienced a direct comparison between 45 years of such play and the findings of our study and dissection of Bradman's style which has led back towards my original method. I have found both the mental and physical application of the two modes of batting to be fundamentally different.
An Alternative Batting Concept
From a still, ideally balanced stance, Bradman's flexible and versatile batting motion offers a feeling of complete freedom which allows for each stroke to be fashioned to the very moment of manipulating and controlling the ball. When batting in more orthodox manner, however, the mind looks to play the ball directly from the bowler's hand with a more restrictive and limited range of already structured strokes which tend to be more vulnerable to any lack of judgement, swing, deviation or change of pace.
Having confirmed his run scoring achievements would not have been possible had he batted in recommended fashion and when asked why others did not take advantage of his style, Bradman tellingly replied:- "I think it's because they are coached not to do it. It's a different technique." In the words of Walter Hammond:- "A good shot is one which controls the ball".
An observation:- "Bradman was all intense concentration, motionless for a full seven seconds as he watched Bowes turn, run up and shoot the ball. Very, very rarely was he puzzled. His footwork was beautiful. He kept the secret of his stroke to the last half second."
As Don Bradman once remarked to Bob Woolmer:- "The ball always comes to you."
Going out at the top
If ever a sportsman went out at the top it was Don Bradman aged 40, 27th August 1948. Despite deteriorating eyesight, fibrositis and indifferent health his method still enabled him to produce:-
Together with the evenness of his scoring throughout a long career, herein lies further evidence of the natural formula Bradman first evolved and then repeated ball by ball, innings by innings, match by match and season by season during the days of uncovered pitches.
Many hold the clarity and content of his book 'The Art of Cricket' in high regard, yet since it's first publication in 1958 it appears no player has taken full advantage of his methods, let alone approached such scoring feats. We believe, this situation is likely to remain until it is appreciated the fused mental and physical functioning of his style stemmed from an original source of practical experience which means his play cannot be judged solely through the eyes of accepted orthodoxy. From the very beginning with either bat or pen in hand Bradman has always presented a problem to those wishing to understand his play. Brian and I trust our findings will at last lead to a full comprehension of both his development and the workings of his technique at the crease, while at the same time clarifying the language he used when attempting to explain his methods.
Quite by chance, it appears Bradman assimilated every desirable aspect of batsmanship into a single and adaptable "Continuous Rotary Batting Process" which he would set in motion to time and control any stroke demanded of the ball. The special feature being its application induces the co-ordination of mind and body in the same way two people walking down the road can also naturally and freely engage themselves in conversation. Hence his unique capacity to bat on and on relatively free from mental or physical strain. An avowed aggressive intent would also have enhanced the quickness of thinking and precision of his movements.
We conclude all aspects of Don Bradman's batsmanship emanate from a single and adaptable "Continuous Rotary Motion of the Human Body".
While acknowledging everybody is different and the coaching of cricket or any other game is a difficult task. At present it appears any youngster who is taught by a qualified cricket coach anywhere in the world is automatically being denied the opportunity of benefiting from the most successful and proven batting technique yet devised in the scoring of runs.
In character, in manner, in style, in all these things the supreme excellence is 'Simplicity'. This applies especially in terms of the natural flow of the human body.
"If somebody in my line of business was performing 66% better than the rest, I should want to know what they were doing and how they did so." (Peter Booth - Bootle CC)
a The Bradman Phenomenon
b Tendulkar - Bradman: A Clear Distinction of Method
c The Weight of Bats
d Don Bradman's ability to bat on and on
1 Bradman Revisited 2nd Edition - The Simplicity of Nature
2 Mind Game
3 Greg Chappell
4 Rotary Style
5 Why Misunderstood?
6 Continuous Rotary Batting Process
8 The Essence of Don Bradman's Batting
Acknowledgements and Bibliography