Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Meet the Englishman who's unlocked the secrets of the world's greatest cricketer -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Transcript
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Don Bradman is generally acknowledged to be the greatest player in the history of cricket; and there's a strong argument that no international athlete has ever dominated his or her sport to such a degree as the 'Boy from Bowral'.

But one of the great mysteries is why more cricketers haven't copied the methods of the legendary batsman.

Now, an English cricket tragic believes he's cracked the code of what made Bradman so brilliant - and he wants to share those secrets with players everywhere.

Europe correspondent Steve Cannane has the story.

(Footage of cricketers playing a test match)

STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: This Englishman has a dream: that, one day, all of his countrymen will bat like an Australian.

Well, one particular Australian: Don Bradman.

(Newsreel footage of Don Bradman batting)

ANNOUNCER (newsreel, archive): The Don reaches 100, equalling Hobbs' record of 12 test centuries in the England-Australia series.

TONY SHILLINGLAW, AUTHOR, 'BRADMAN REVISITED': We all know how hard it is to score runs. And I began to wonder: well, here's a man 66 per cent better than anybody else has ever played - and that is a fascination.

(Montage of Don Bradman playing test cricket. Music: 'Bradman' by Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls)

PAUL KELLY (sings): He was more than just a batsman / He was something like a tide / More than just one man / He could take on any side / They always came for Bradman...

STEVE CANNANE: No-one has dominated their sport like Don Bradman. He averaged nearly 100 in test cricket. The next-best average is around 60.

And for the last 35 years, Tony Shillinglaw has made it his quest to find out what made the 'Boy from Bowral' so superior.

TONY SHILLINGLAW: Jack Potter set up the Australian Cricket Academy. He knew Bradman quite well. So I asked him: I said, "Has a study ever been done about Don Bradman?" And he said, "No." I couldn't comprehend it! And I still can't comprehend it!

STEVE CANNANE: Tony's curiosity stemmed from his own career. He was a successful cricketer playing for Cheshire, but felt like he never fulfilled his potential.

Like Bradman, he was self-taught, but when he made the North of England Schoolboys as a 15-year-old, his coach tried to change his style. His batting suffered and he became more of a bowler.

(Tony Shillinglaw stands on a cricket pitch)

TONY SHILLINGLAW: The difficult thing is landing it there. (Laughs)

STEVE CANNANE: In his 50s and looking back at what went wrong, he decided - with his mates Brian Hale and Dave Reynolds - to unpick Bradman's batting technique.

(Footage of Tony Shillinglaw in indoor cricket pitch)

TONY SHILLINGLAW: I'd done three years' study of technique and all the stuff about Bradman that everyone talks about.

And I came down here to the club one Saturday morning by myself, went to the far wall, started hitting the ball against the wall. And I thought: "God, I've wasted three years here." I luckily remembered Bradman stressing all the time, "You've got to play through the ball. Don't stab it."

STEVE CANNANE: Eventually, through practise and through poring over Bradman's own words, he worked out the key to his success.

TONY SHILLINGLAW: Pick it up like an axe.

STEVE CANNANE: Part of it was his unique grip and back-lift - and what Tony calls "the rotary method."

TONY SHILLINGLAW: He tells us where the bat goes: it goes right to second slip. So it's moving and then, when the ball comes out of the hand, every shot comes out of the one move.

(Tony demonstrates Bradman's batting technique)

TONY SHILLINGLAW: So I feel Bradman only played one shot. He had his stance. The ball is in the delivery stride - and he even started this shot before the ball was bowled. It starts to move and then he could play it anywhere, because of the fluidity of - where are we? There, there, there, there.

Every shot comes out of one - he only did the same thing. That's why he was different from everybody.

STEVE CANNANE: For cricket fans, this is an extraordinary sight: an 80-year-old man from the north of England smoking cover drives and pull shots just like the 'Don'.

For Tony Shillinglaw, Bradman was very much a product of his environment.

TONY SHILLINGLAW: The proof is there that the cause of Bradman is 52 Shepherd Street: water tank and stand, eight-foot space, golf ball and stump.

(Steve Cannane stands outside the Bradman family home, Bowral)

STEVE CANNANE: This is the place where Don Bradman developed that unique batting technique: out the back of 52 Shepherd Street, Bowral. He lived here between 1911 and 1924, in those formative childhood years. And they've restored the place - including that famous tank stand.

(Footage of Steve Cannane batting against the water tank stand at 52 Shepherd Street, Bowral, using a golf ball and wicket stump, in imitation of Bradman's childhood practise method)

STEVE CANNANE: The degree of difficulty in this game was immense. You've got your thin stump, your tiny ball, your
round surface with edges so the ball's darting off these edges. And then you've got the surface, which is made out of recycled bricks from a renovation that Don Bradman's father had done from inside. So the surface is undulating. It's got gaps. So playing on a proper cricket wicket after playing on this for so many hours must have seemed like a breeze.

TONY SHILLINGLAW: We've found out what it did. And it was the golf ball and stump: the ability to hit it and control it.

So Bradman learnt to control a fast, erratic, moving ball better than anybody else has ever done. And all I've discovered is that you can't do it from an orthodox style: the only way you can do it is through rotation.

MATT THACKER, MANAGING EDITOR, ALL OUT CRICKET: For the last 20 to 30 years, it's been his life. I think he wakes up: he thinks and talks about Bradman, tries to get people interested in Bradman, involved in Bradman.

STEVE CANNANE: Matt Thacker played with Tony in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is the managing editor of All Out Cricket magazine. He introduced former Kent captain Dave Fulton to some of Tony's theories.

MATT THACKER: So he came up here. He saw what Tony did. He started practising it. He'd retired by then.

And he played a couple of games, he said, for his team. And he got 70 and 80 and really enjoyed it - and found it liberating: the rotary method. He thought there was definitely something was to it.

(Excerpt from 'Wings to Fly', English Cricket Board web video)

STEVE CANNANE (voiceover): And maybe people are beginning to listen to Tony Shillinglaw. Earlier this year former England coach Andy Flower spoke to him for a cricket coaching series produced by England's cricket board.

TONY SHILLINGLAW: So to be so consistent as Bradman, the method had to be simple to him.

(Excerpt ends)

STEVE CANNANE: For Tony, this is a crusade he'll pursue for the rest of his life.

TONY SHILLINGLAW: We feel it's our duty that Bradman's method should be made available to cricket generally. And anybody with the aptitude or the will to do it should be able to do it. 'Cause it's not an idea that we've had. It's proven! The runs are in the book! And Don Bradman put them there!

STEVE CANNANE: So Tony, then, your dream is to teach a whole lot of young English boys how to bat like Bradman, and then take them back to Australia and win the Ashes?

TONY SHILLINGLAW: That would be my dying wish! (Laughs)

(Montage of Don Bradman playing test cricket. Music: 'Bradman' by Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls)

PAUL KELLY (sings): ...He could take on any side / They always came for Bradman, 'cause fortune used to hide / In the palm of his hands...