Almanac Poetry: The Other Side of Bradman (A Response to Geoff Page’s ‘On the Death of a Famous Cricketer’)

Don Bradman, c. 1928. [Source: Wikimedia Commons.]

A Response to Geoff Page’s ‘On the Death of a Famous Cricketer’

 

A biased bloke, a quiet bigot,
he possessed the common sense
not to parade his lesser side
before an adoring public.

 

He was part of a Mason/Catholic divide
in his Test side during the thirties,
‘liked to hear the sound of his own voice’,
according to Len Hutton.

 

Was as blunt as a sawn-off twenty-two
when the cricket wasn’t up to scratch.
‘Geez, you bowled some rubbish, son,’
he once chided a young Test bowler.

 

A man who seemed to dislike
the public’s unstinting gaze,
yet couldn’t have done without it:
it made him who he was.

 

Cocky and smug, this little chap,
antithesis of the Aussie ‘mate’,
with the sporting genius’s age-old curse
of not fitting in with the team.

 

 

Read Geoff Page’s ‘On the Death of a Famous Cricketer’ HERE

 

Acknowledgements: first published in Quadrant, 2010; Lionheart Summer, 2011 (Picaro Press), 2018 (Ginninderra Press reprint); The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001-2010, edited by Les Murray, Quadrant Books, 2012.

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.

Comments

  1. Kevin Densley says

    I should add a little more about the context in which this poem was written – Geoff Page’s poem wrote of a humble, “decent, private sort of bloke”, one who “always answered all his mail” and I felt that more, another “side”, so to speak, needed to be added to this picture of the Don.

  2. DBalassone says

    Good work Kevin. Was the Don that bad? When you’re twice as good as the rest, it’s probably hard not to be a bit like that.
    As an aside, it seems that a lot of Aussie Test Captains have had their critics: Chappelli, Hughes, Border, Ponting, Clarke, Smith come to mind. Tough job. We seem to judge them harshly.

  3. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, DB, for the comments.

    What I was getting at in this poem (written more than a decade ago) was that, on the basis of what I’ve read and seen and heard, the Don wasn’t really “bad” at all, but more a man with prejudices and beliefs common to most people of his era; in other words, he didn’t deserve “sainthood”, which made him similar to the rest of the population.

    Of course, at the same time, he was a sporting genius, probably our most significant; common to such people is an incredibly big self-belief, a kind of arrogance, an inward focus, which makes for an aloof person, one who, to use the vernacular, is “very happy with him/herself”. It’s widely known that he wasn’t universally liked by those in his own national team.

  4. Who was it who said “Just because he was the greatest cricketer, doesn’t necessarily mean he was also the best bloke…” ??

  5. Kevin Densley says

    I can’t recall who said that, Smokie, but it’s a sentiment I go along with – and deal with in this poem.

  6. Terrific Kevin. The Mason/Catholic divide was a massive influence on things during Bradmans time. There was no doubt where he stood.

    These days he might be described as “divisive”. Perhaps he was just human.

  7. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your response, Dips. Very pleased you responded so positively to this poem, in particular the position the poem took on the Don.

    Great to hear from you!

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