The International Cricket Hall of Fame is all about stories: stories of courage; sportsmanship and stories just about great moments in time. Curator David Wells is a Master Storyteller and what he doesn’t know about items in our collection just isn’t worth knowing. Each item has a fascinating story, of how it came to be in the collection; of why it is important and ultimately of how it reflects the values of cricket. Two pretty special items caught his attention recently;
Item # 1 Don Bradman’s First Cricket Bat
Yes, you read that correctly – Don Bradman’s first cricket bat, ever. The one he was given when he was just 12 by the men of the Bowral Cricket Club; the one his Dad modified for him; the one he scored the Bowral District record with (that stood for decades) the one he scored 4 Centuries including 234 against Bill O’Reilly’s Wingello side, with…. THAT bat. The one that started it all.
“It was about this time that I came into possession of a real bat. And I was now the happiest boy ever. It was given to me by a Mr Cupitt, a member of the Bowral team. It was a man’s size, but that did not matter. It was a bat with a splice, and not one chopped out of the limb of a gum tree. That bat meant almost everything in the world to me. With a saw my father cut three inches off the bottom, and rounded it off at the foot, and I went into the paddock with my prized possession. I played shots at imaginary balls till the light failed. I was happy.” Said Sir Donald of the bat in a 1930 edition of the SMH.
The bat is now part of the permanent collection at The International Cricket Hall of Fame and you can find it in the Bradman Gallery.
Item # 2 Dennis Lillee Aluminium Bat
What a contrast! Bradman’s classic wooden bat and Lillee’s rather ill-fated aluminium bat.
Lillee took this bat to the crease on the second day of the 1979 Ashes Test in Perth. At that time there were no rules against using a non-wooden bat, but the English Captain, Mike Brearley complained that the bat was damaging the ball and the Australian Captain, Greg Chappell instructed Lillee to use a conventional bat. Lillee protested and the umpires held an animated ten minute discussion. Lillee eventually threw the aluminium bat in disgust and grudgingly took a wooden one. Lillee maintains his throw of the aluminium bat is a World Record! After that incident the use of non-wooden bats was outlawed and sales of the aluminium bat very briefly went through the roof! Watch the incident here and see if you can hear the distinct clink sound the ball makes on the aluminium bat.