Australian Batting Heroes Package
Norman O’Neill and Young Bradman – two studies of Australian batting heroes
During the late 1950s, Norman O’Neill re-excited Australian cricket, and Walter Hammond called him ‘the best batsman in the world since the Second World War’.
Gradually, though, the ‘second Bradman’ label induced nervous starts, while O’Neill became frustrated at not captaining his state, New South Wales. Knee injuries ultimately ended a brilliant career prematurely, at just 30. This is Brian O’Sullivan’s detailed analysis of a captivating batsman who averaged 50 across his first-class career.
In fact, there has never been another Donald Bradman, and Mark Rowe’s book asks how did he do it? He had an ‘eye’ for the ball; he could concentrate, and had an appetite for runs. Yet it’s one thing to have the ability, and another to have a chance to prove it.
Few have considered the sociology of 1920s small-town Australia and Sydney’s volunteer enthusiasts that made the time and place ideal for a Bradman. That no batsman has been as extraordinary since begs questions about the ‘academies’ of elite sport. If an uncoached small lad from a small town with no more than a keen family background in sport could do it, why hasn’t anyone else?