The Bradman Phenomenon - 4

Don Bradman's ability to bat on and on
Tony Shillinglaw and Brian Hale - Wednesday 19th March 2008

During the time since Don Bradman retired from Test cricket in 1948, the technique by which he made all those runs has remained dormant and largely ignored.

Also, the reasons given for his success, such as 'one-off genius', 'it's all in the mind', and 'concentration' (but what kind of concentration?) now appear trite.

The runs are in the book, and they were crafted under all conditions in the days of uncovered pitches.

Whatever the state of the game, and however he felt, like the rest of us, Bradman still had to walk out to the middle and face those first uncertain overs, each ball to be treated on its merits and a proper judgement and response made.

Of late, there has been much discussion as to why some batsmen are able to develop and play long innings, yet most are unable to do so on a regular basis.

Melbourne scientist, Charles Davies, has been quoted as saying: "Bradman's likelihood of getting out changed in an unusual way as his innings progressed, quite different from any other batsman. For scores below about 15, even though Bradman was very good at avoiding dismissal, his chances of dismissal were still within the range of other great batsmen. Hobbs, for example, was more reliable at reaching double figures.

"Once set, however, Bradman's chance of dismissal plummeted to only one third of other leading batsmen and above a score of 50 he is way ahead of anyone else in 'Test' history."

Today's cricketers may well wish to consider and know how any batsman could produce the following conversion rate to high scores and averages: of 338 first class innings, 117 were centuries, 37 of which were turned into scores of over 200 and often many more.

When making these centuries, Bradman's average score was 173, and on only 15 occasions was he dismissed between 80 and 100.

In Test cricket, he was never dismissed in the 90s, only twice in the 80s, and while scoring 29 hundreds, averaged 185.

In the year of Don Bradman's centenary, it is particularly important for todayís generation to appreciate how good a batsman he really was, and, even more so, to understand the "Continuous Rotary Batting Process" which provided him with the consistency and capability to bat on and on while producing so many runs.

The following is a quote from a Bradman letter: "In general, I think that many coaches stifle the natural abilities of young players by rigidly insisting that they do not move until the ball is delivered and that they adhere to a perpendicular bat with left hand control.

Movie strips of me batting indicate that I started my backlift before the ball was delivered and that the bottom of my bat was approximately level with the tops of the stumps at the instant of delivery.

But let me hasten to say, my backlift was rather towards second slip, not point as some suggest. The perpendicular bat theory virtually eliminates pull strokes (which can only be played with a cross bat) and square cuts (except by angling the blade which, in turn, is a recipe for giving catches in the slips). I was never conscious that either hand was playing any special part in the initial movement, it was just a natural process."

Following some 15 years studying what Don Bradman did, said, and wrote, and together with much experimentation, it becomes clear that he batted differently to the methods which are generally taught.

But also, once understood, this proven technique may be adopted successfully by those willing and able to do so, just as any other method of play.

Spiro Zavos said on March 19th 2008:

"Anthony Shillinglaw has done some tremendous research on Don Bradmanís batting technique, and why it enabled him to be the most prolific run scorer in terms of innings played in the history of cricket. The incredible thing about Bradmanís success is that hardly any other player has tried consciously or unconsciously to imitate his method. The nearest example, to my mind, is Doug Walters, who career was virtually destroyed by his compulsory service in the army during the Vietnam War period.

"None of the official coaching manuals describe the Bradman 'rotary' method of sho-making, despite its obvious efficiency and effectiveness for Don Bradman. This is quite amazing. It is like a golfing manual refusing to point out the methods of Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods. Bradmanís record, in fact, far surpasses these two golf maestros.

"Don Bradman did not have 20/20 vision. He was small and wiry. He had wonderful hand eye co-ordination. There have been hundreds of cricketers who had the same physical abilities as Bradman. He had great powers of concentration and a strong will, again qualities that many cricketers have enjoyed.

"Yet his record, as Anthony Shillinglaw points out, is far away the best in the history of the game. What was the point of difference? The unique batting style he created, is the answer.

"When will kids starting the game be given instruction in the Bradman method?"

Spiro Zavos is a journalist on

see also:


a  The Bradman Phenomenon

b  Tendulkar - Bradman: A Clear Distinction of Method

c  The Weight of Bats

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

7  Final Chapter 2 - Nature's Way of Batting

8  The Essence of Don Bradman's Batting

9  Acknowledgements and Bibliography