Quietly Flows the Don as Bradman Changes the Balance of Power

Today at Lord’s in the Second Test of 1930 Bradman will resume on 155 with the Australian score at 404 for 2, twenty three runs behind England’s now clearly sub-par first innings score of 425.

Today, Third Man has found a suit and tie, slipped into the ground, made his way around to the side steps of the pavilion, skipped up the stone flight, walked under the Committee Room window, pushed aside a couple of doors entered the Long Room and taken a seat on one of the long and highly polished tables mingling with the member’s who are there waiting to catch a glimpse of the players as they walk out onto the field.

This series is the first in England with Tests played over four days.  The sage conclusion in the Long Room this morning is that England failed on Friday, the first day, to adjust to this new format, batting as if there were still only three days in which to win and to take a decisive two match lead in the series.

Sitting together, their legs dangling and swinging nervously from the table top, a group are enjoying the general discussion.  Third Man argues that this criticism of England is a touch unfair as the Australians on Saturday scored, if anything, at a slightly faster rate.  But he cannot argue against the fact that England lost wickets, Australia did not. Those English wickets moved the game on and with their fall England handed the opportunity of a large first innings lead to their guests.

Hearing over his right shoulder the clatter of the studs and the general hubbub of the England fielders coming down the stairs and scuffing across the Long Room floor, Third Man leans back to watch Chapman lead out his men to strong private applause from the members. As quickly as the Eleven arrive to break the conversation, they vanish out into the strong light and the rising sound of 30,000 delighted spectators.

Then there is silence.  No resumption of their chatting.  They may  speculate about many things, but one is certain, they are waiting to see a new immortal who in front of theirs eyes over these hours is joining the Pantheon.

A couple of sets of studs sound to their left and announce the entrance of Bradman and Kippax. 

The members in an ill-mannered silence resulting from their fascination closely examine the diminutive figure of the 21 year old.  He is short but long in leg, with broad shoulders, compactly built but Bradman is raised from the ordinary by his extraordinary talent.    He emanates fitness, confidence and good grace. 

The members remembering themselves burst into respectful and affectionate applause.  They approve of his neat and smart turnout which with relief they see supports their own sense of values and takes the edge off the sense of distance. 

Each shall take home tonight to share with their loved ones these little details.  How small his feet are with their nicely fitted boots hardly protruding from his pads – without doubt the source of his astonishing nimbleness at the crease. And in years to come they shall bask in their ability to answer awed enquirers:

“You were there that day!  What was he like?”

Two photographs here and above taken at Leeds less than a fortnight after the events described here show the affection and lack of partisanship of the crowd and the Don's broad shoulders which had made a special impression on Pelham Warner.

No one in that witnessing multitude are disappointed.  Bradman continues to amass runs, reaching his double hundred and then nearing and passing Murdoch’s record score of 211 that has stood for 46 years. 

On and on Australia bat.  Kippax 83, McCabe 44, Richardson 30.  The fall of Bradman with what we think at first is yet another beautifully executed shot but which  remains aerial long enough for a brilliant catch by Chapman.  Bradman caught Chapman bowled White 254 will read the scorecard.  

The assault continues with even greater urgency until tea when Woodfull calculates the time is right to challenge the home side’s batsmen again.  Oldfield not out 43, Fairfax not out 20, Australia 729 for 6 wickets and 304 ahead.

There had been a moment of hilarity when Australia reached 700 and those operating the score board had been unable to find a 7 such is the alien territory into which the Australian advance has pushed England in little over five sessions of play.

After tea, Hobbs and Woolley make their way to the wicket but even these two experienced and formidable batsmen are shell-shocked from the assault they have suffered.

Grimmett bowls Hobbs for 19 and drives Woolley back into his own stumps for 28.  But Hammond and Duleepsinghji hold the force at bay and take their side to 93 for 2 at the close of the third day.

Tomorrow’s newspapers will report that, with eight wickets standing in their second innings, England are 211 runs behind Australia’s first innings score of 729 for 6 declared. But these bare facts will not address the psychological impact of the day. Up until this Test, England has won six out of the last seven matches between the sides.

Bradman has single-handedly changed the balance of power between the two countries for a generation.

To remember and celebrate June Lord’s Test Matches, Third Man is reviewing one of the best:  England v Australia in 1930.  Last Thursday (because the itch was greatest) he began with the opening day’s play 80 years before which actually took place on a Friday as it was a four day match. But today, his Time Machine has double-de-clutched us a little further into line by taking him to the third day’s play of Monday 30th June.  Day One and Two can be found here  and here.

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