How Dollery and Hollies Hatched the Don's Departure at 99.94; Jack Bannister Pays Tribute to the Greatest of Them All - Sir Donald Bradman, Who Died Earlier This Week

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Byline: Jack Bannister

Donald George Bradman was the world's best ever sportsman. His staggering performances are so far ahead of any other cricketer in history that news of his death prompted Australian statistician Charles Davis to relate his 99.94 Test batting average with other sports.

A near impossibility, but to give the reader some idea of the gulf between Bradman and the rest, David says that Tiger Woods would have to exceed Jack Nicklaus's 19 majors by six; Rivaldo needs to score 100 international goals - more than 30 above anyone has managed - and an American basketball player would have to average 43 points per game. The legendary Michael Jordan averages 32.

Bradman isn't just a part of history. He created it, even in his final innings at the Oval in 1948 when he walked to the wicket needing four runs to establish a final Test average of 100.

All nice, neat and symmetrical.

But life isn't always fair, with that second-ball duck against the bowling of Eric Hollies being a signing off that reduced grown men to tears.

The modern cricketer firmly believes that the old-timers just turned up and played. No preparation and no planning.

The Bradman-Hollies duel disproves that because the plot was hatched at Edgbaston the week before the Test at the Oval.

Traditionally,Warwickshire used to play the tourists in August, as they did on the 1948 tour.

Hollies already knew he would play in the final Test when the three-day game started at Edgbaston.

Bradman topped 70 and at the end of the Australian innings the great leg-spinner said to his close friend and captain, Tom Dollery: 'I only tried him with one googly, but I'm not sure he picked it.'

There has been no shrewder captain of Warwickshire than Dollery, who said: 'In which case, you don't bowl him another. Find out whether he did or didn't next week in the Test.'

And so it came to pass.

Bradman walked in to bat to a massive ovation. That had just died down when the England captain, Norman Yardley, called for three cheers from his team.

Bradman subsequently denied a story that he took guard with tears in his eyes, and it is difficult to believe that the most clinical cricketer of all time was not fully focused on scoring those first four runs. Hollies trotted in for his first ball to the Don and decided it would be an orthodox leg-break as a googly might be expected.

Then came the historical moment when the proverbial pin could have been heard to drop all over south-east London.

In came Hollies. …