“There was always been a sort of aura surrounding fast centuries,” once said the great Don Bradman, himself the owner of many unbelievably fast hundreds.
Two days ago, Chris Gayle scored one in 30 balls in an IPL match against Pune Warriors. It is the fastest hundred on record in all forms of professional cricket. But Bradman being Bradman achieved something even more mind-boggling during the course of a village game on November 2, 1931.
Up in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales is a village called Blackheath. On the fateful day, Bradman and his colleague from the New South Wales Sheffield Shield team, Oscar Wendell Bill, had been invited to a game against Lithgow. The game was meant for the inauguration of a new concrete pitch at their oval.
“The Lithgow experiment was new to me in that I had never seen a pitch with a malthoid top,” Bradman said many years later. “I’m still not sure if it was laid on a bitumen base or on concrete but it was perfectly flat and very smooth.”
Turf wickets are difficult — and rather expensive — to create and maintain in the countryside. Concrete wickets, on the other hand, are easy to make and require little maintenance. Just slap on a matting on the surface and get on with it.
“The pitch proved ideal for batting in that the ball came off it at a gentle pace and with a particularly uniform and predictable bounce,” Bradman said.
During the course of the innings, the Lithgow side brought on Bill Black, a bowler who had dismissed Bradman for 52 in a village game in September the same year, and had been boasting all over town about his conquest.
Bradman saw the bowler and famously said to Wendell Bill, “I think I will have a go.” What followed was brutality.
“I scored 33 in the first over,” he said. “Three sixes, three fours and a two – and then getting a single off the last ball which gave me the strike for the second over in which I made 40 with four sixes and four fours. This gave Wendell the strike for the third over. He made one, after which I hit two sixes and a single. Wendell made a single off the fifth ball and then I finished the over with two fours and a six.”
In three eight-ball overs, Bradman had scored one hundred runs. The time estimated was 18 minutes which would be a comfortable world record despite the time lost while “the ball was being retrieved from across the road, front yards and pine trees…there were plenty of small boys scrambling for the honour of returning it,” notes the Bradman Foundation.
“It is important I think to emphasise that the thing was not planned,” Bradman said. “It happened purely by accident and everyone was surprised by the outcome no one more so than I. In fact I was unaware of the result until I subsequently read about it in the newspapers.”
Bradman made 256 in all in that innings, with 14 sixes and 29 fours. He kept the bat — a Sykes 4 Crown willow — with which he destroyed the Lithgow bowlers, possibly scoring some more hundreds with it in domestic and Test cricket through that summer before breaking it.
Later, Bradman gifted the bat to the Lithgow mayor Peter Sutton. It passed hands many times and now rests with the Bradman Foundation.
“I don’t know whether my hundred in three overs is a record,” Bradman said. “All I can say is that I have never heard of anything similar.” We haven’t, either.
The break-up of those three overs:
1st Over — 6, 6, 4, 2, 4, 4, 6, 1 (33, all to Bradman)
2nd Over — 6, 4, 4, 6, 6, 4, 6, 4 (40, all to Bradman)
3rd Over — 1*, 6, 6, 1, 1*, 4, 4, 6 (27 to Bradman, 2* to Wendell Bill).
References: The Bradman Trail & The Bradman Foundation. TAG:CYCSPL
When Bradman made 100 in 22 balls
REWIND — Impressed by Gayle’s achievements? Read about what Sir Donald did in 1931.By AR Hemant | Yahoo! Cricket – Thu 25 Apr, 2013 2:59 PM IST
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