A kid is playing cricket, alone, in a backyard. The ball’s echo against the wall is heard throughout the neighbourhood, it resounds through all the bungalows around the Australian city. The bat is a cricket pole. The ball, a golf ball. The boy throws the ball against a curved and irregular wall. Each time the ball is thrown it, it bounces off at a different angle. Sometimes it makes a cut. Sometimes, a blockade. Sometimes, a shot. But always hit the ball. Every single time.
The child does it every morning, every afternoon, every day and every year for a decade. In his first game with the local school, when he was twelve, he got 115 that they are not out. In the comeback game, the captain sits on the bench with 72. In the third match, the captain of the opposite team refuses to let his team take the field if that kid is going to play.
A few years later, during his first season in a cricket club, the boy reached 995 and five races in just 9 opportunities. In 1927, he played his first game in the first division.
The following year, he plays for his country. Twenty years later, he retired with an average score of 99,94 (he was one race away to get an extraordinary average of 100).
The boy’s name was Donald Bradman: one of the best of all time. Bradman learned his craft in a Bowral alley by throwing a golf ball against an irregular wall and hitting with a cricket stick.
Mastery in any activity (a sport, a skill, an art, a business) is achieved through practice. Practice improves with intensity. Many studies have shown that our body and mind respond positively to an accelerated and intense learning diet, which provides us with a drastic improvement and a great competitive advantage.
Extracted from Legacy, by James Kerr
Who was Donald Bradman?
He was called ‘The Don’ and he was the best cricketer of all time. He was born on August 27, in 1908, Cootamundra, Australia. He had four older brothers, one boy and three girls, and he was a descendant of Englishmen, but his grandfather changed England for Australia looking for gold, however, he ended up as a farmer.
Donald Bradman developed his career between 1928 and 1948. He played in two clubs, New South Wales Blues and South Australia Redbacks. He played more than 280 international matches, 52 of the official games.
Self-taught batter spent a lot of time improving his technique and enviable hand-eye-brain coordination, which allowed him to become the legend that he is today.
To give us an idea, his average of ninety-nine races per international match is the equivalent of one hundred goals per season in a football league like the Spanish or Italian. Can you imagine it?
Bradman died in 2001, aged 92, in Adelaide, Australia.
“I was never coached; I was never told how to hold a bat. ” –D. Bradman
● An Australian statistical scientist named Charles Davies did a mathematical study to find out who is the best athlete in history, based on the most significant data. Davies concluded that the five greatest athletes of all time were Jack Nicklaus (golf, analyzing tournaments), Michael Jordan (basketball, studying points per game), Ty Cobb (baseball, analyzing the batting average), Pelé (soccer, goals per game) and Don Bradman (batting average). After a series of mathematical formulas, the conclusions are that Bradman was the best of all.
● The first time Nelson Mandela saw an Australian after spending 27 years in prison, the first thing he said was “Is Sir Donald Bradman still alive?”
● On the centenary of his birth, the Government of Australia coined a 5-dollar coin with his image.
● Bradman was enlisted in World War II in the Australian Air Force. His fate was a physical training ground in Australia to prevent him from any danger.
● Many Australians consider Don Bradman as their Winston Churchill, the hero who is above all heroes. It was the first time that Australia stood out in anything since all the references were provided by England, the metropolis: in literature, they had Shakespeare, in poetry was Tennyson… but they had the best cricketer.
Nowadays, we constantly look for the best facilities, infrastructures and the best conditions to work out. And this is not negative, because it shows our predisposition to find the best environment for the athlete. The question is: “Is this always the most appropriate?” or “is this the most relevant?”
Bradman teaches us that above the conditions and the environment (which always influence) there is determination, passion, perseverance, adaptability, daily work and habits. He had all this and some terrible conditions. And he became the best.
What is our filter to select talent? Maybe we should rethink some things, because work conditions, will generate help or handicaps during the process, however, human conditions and their attitudes will allow to develop their talent or not.