SIR DONALD BRADMAN DRIVE, THE NAME OF THE MAIN ROAD FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY, signals Adelaide’s ownership of the greatest cricket batsman.
Yet Bradman was born on August 27, 1908, in Cootamundra, New South Wales. He was raised in Bowral and entered first class cricket (a century on debut) for New South Wales.
The Bradman legend was sealed in 1930 during Australia’s tour of England when he scored 131 in the first Test, 254 in the second and the then-world record 334 in the third – part of 974 in seven innings of that series.
In 1934, the South Australian Cricket Association secured Bradman from New South Wales in a seemingly free trade. Bradman was enticed over the border to learn the stockbroking trade in an offer made by Adelaide businessman and Australian Cricket Board of Control member Harry Hodgetts of Hodgetts & Co stockbrokers.
But it was the South Australian Cricket Association that instigated the move and subsidised Bradman’s wages.
Bradman made a failed bid to become Melbourne Cricket Club secretary in 1939 but his life resumed the pattern of 65 years (1934-2001) in Adelaide. He ran his stockbroking business from a city office and raised his family in the suburb of Kensington Park. He spent thousands of hours at Adelaide Oval as a cricket administrator.
Adelaide didn't make Bradman a greater cricketer but its lifestyle, away from the exposure he hated, extended the time he needed to become a sporting legend.
KENSINGTON PARK HOME NEAR KENSINGTON OVAL
Don Bradman and his wife Jessie lived in the same modest Kensington Park house for nearly all their married life. The home saw many happy and some early sad times. They experienced tragedy in raising their children: their first-born son died in infancy in 1936, their second John (born in 1939) contracted polio and their daughter Shirley, born in 1941, had cerebral palsy from birth. The house was recommended for state heritage listing in 1987 but this was dropped after Bradman objected. Again, against his wishes, the home was heritage listed by Burnside Council in 2004. Architect Philip Claridge designed the home for the Bradmans when they moved to South Australia in 1934. Claridge's firm had long-term responsibility for maintenance work at Adelaide Oval and this led to him working on the Bradman house. The two-storey home is considered neo-Georgian, not modernist. Bradman fiercely opposed to any plans aiming to cash in on his name. Bradman’s angst caused the federal government in 2000 to change to the corporations law regulations to prevent anyone using his name to suggest a connection that didn’t exist.
Don Bradman was a keen musician: a boy soprano in his school choir, a skilled pianist, and he composed music. He recorded several solo piano pieces at Columbia Record Studios during the 1930 tour to England. Later that year, a song written for piano by Don Bradman called “Every day is a rainbow day for me” had its premiere performance at the Grand Opera House in the presence of the touring West Indian team. His granddaughter Greta sang that song at the Bradman centenary dinner in Sydney in 2015. When Greta Bradman was young, she and brother Tom went to her grandparents' Kensington Park house every day after school where she was surrounded by her piano-playing grandfather’s passion for music, especially the soprano voice. They would also listen to his big collection of LPs.Greta studied music at Adelaide University’s Elder Conservatorium when she was also a member of Adelaide Chamber Singers, the winner of consecutive Choir of the World awards.Greta Bradman has won critics choice awards including APRA/AMCOS Performance of the Year (2013) and OzCart awards. Nominated for Helpmann, MusicOz and ARIA awards, she received Australian International Opera Award in 2013-14 allowing her to train with the Wales International Academy of Voice. Richard Bonynge selected Bradman to sing the title role in a performance of Handel’s Rodelinda in 2014. Greta Bradman has recorded for Sony, ABC Classics and independently.
Kamahl (Kandiah Kamalesvaran) became one of Australia’s best known singers through the links made in the small social circles of 1950s Adelaide – especially with well-known benefactors such as a Don Bradman and Rupert Murdoch. From a Tamil background, Kamahl arrived in Adelaide from Malaysia in 1953 for secondary education at King’s College (now Pembroke School) in Kensington Park. Despite being injured playing cricket as a 10-year-old in Kuala Lumpur, Kamahl took up the game again at King’s College. He did well enough to be selected to play for the Kensington club in the South Australian Cricket Association. He took a ha ttrick with his first three off spin balls of the season, and finished with 7/55. Later that day he met Don Bradman, who also had played for the Kensington club and lived in Kensington Park, in the dressing room. This was start of Kamahl’s deep friendship with Bradman. As Kamahl’s university studies floundered, immigration authorities attempted to deport him. He enjoyed singing and decided to try it as a career as “Kamahl”. This led to contact with another benefactor, Rupert Murdoch, the young proprietor of Adelaide’s afternoon newspaper The News. Murdoch put Adelaide’s first television channel, Nine, to air in 1959 with Kamahl booked for the opening night variety show. From there, Murdoch promoted Kamahl nationally until he was granted permant residency in 1966.
THIRTY-YEAR LINK WITH SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CRICKET ASSOCIATION
Don Bradman was a powerful figure in the South Australian Cricket Association for half a century, notably as national selector and chairman of the Australian Cricket Board. Bradman spent many hours at hundreds of South Australian Cricket Association meetings in roles ranging from president, treasurer, selector and coach plus watching games in the committee room at the George Giffen Stand and players at the practice nets. Reviews on Bradman’s role as administrator are mixed. At the Australian Cricket Board level, he was involved in the boycott of South Africa. Although he later said he regretted the decision, Bradman as board chairman cancelled the 1971-72 South Africa tour. His other big national challenge came from the Kerry Packer’s World Series cricket in the 1970s. Refusing to pay the Australian Test players their full market value, Bradman came up against team captain Ian Chappell – grandson of Vic Richardson, an Australian/South Australian captain whose relationship with Bradman had strains. Bradman also was centre of the bitter split, from 1969, between the South Australian Cricket Association and South Australian National Football League over use of Adelaide Oval. This caused football to leave and set up its own West Lakes stadium in 1974. The rift was healed in 2012, with cricket and football sharing the remodelled $535 million Adelaide Oval, largely financed by the South Australian government.