This is the ball the Sir Donald Bradman scored his 100th First Class century.
In November 1947 an Australian XI played the Indian team at the Sydney Cricket Ground. India, a newly federated country, had sent its national team on their first Test tour of Australia. The Indians attracted quite a bit of interest amongst Australian spectators keen to see how well they played cricket. In addition to seeing the Indians, those spectators who flocked to the SCG were also acutely aware that Don Bradman had scored 99 First Class centuries and that they might witness the record 100th.
On the morning of 15 November, Bradman went out to bat with his team at 1 for 11. With his 100th century in view, and in the twilight of his extraordinary career, he played a careful and serious innings. Taking no risks he reached 50 in 78 minutes. It was the last over before tea and he was 99. In a move that became the defining piece in one of cricket’s most enduring legends, the Indian captian, Amarnath, gave the ball to Kishenchand, who was not a bowler and had not bowled a single ball all tour!
Bradman eased Kishenchand’s second ball to leg for a single to post his 100th century after batting for two hours and 12 minutes.
Bradman’s adoring fans rose to their feet to acknowledge his remarkable achievement, while on the field, Inidan and Australian players came together in warm appreciation for the great cricketer on reaching this historic milestone.
Bradman returned to the crease after tea and rapidly added a further 72 runs with a robust and free display of stroke play before being caught by Armarnath himself.
At the conclusion of the innings the ball was souvenired by match umpire George Borwick. Bradman and Borwick knew one another well with Borwick having regularly umpired First Class and Test matches in which he played from the early 1930’s, including the infamous Bodyline series. At the end of the match, Borwick sought to present Bradman with the ball, but he refused, signing the ball instead and insisting that Borwick keep it.
George Borwick later had the ball mounted on a silver plate and bakelite trophy with the utilitarian inscription “Pres.by / Don Bradman / to / Geo. Borwick / 100th 100 / 1947”
George Borwick proudly kept it on his mantle piece in his Glebe home for many years on display. Later it passed on to his son and then his grandson David who recently brought it to the museum.
In giving the ball, David explained that he was seeking the best home for his grandfather’s prized possession. He had met Don Bradman through his grandfather as a child and spoke of the respect the two men had for one another.
He recalled Bradman, Lindsay Hassett and Kieth Miller returning to the family home with George Borwick after an early conclusion to a Sydney Test match in 1969. While waiting for his grandmother to cook a meal of rabbit with white sauce and carrots, the four, together with young David, headed into the back garden for a game of cricket which progressed smoothly until Kieth Miller drove the ball into Mrs Borwick’s prized roses!
Cricket objects of this historic caliber are indeed rare and the museum is indebted to David Borwick for substantially adding to the collection through this act of generosity.