Bradman's Last Innings Context

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Sir Donald Bradman, born in 1908, is the most renowned and respected of Australian cricketers who, although of retiring demeanour, attained heroic stature in the interwar period and captained Australia in test matches against England from 1936 to 1948. He represents an era, long gone, when sportsmen were gentlemen and the love of a game, not dubious 'star' status and huge financial rewards, was the inducement to play. In this way, too, he represents an Australia that has now receded into the romantic past, when the kind of man he was and the principles he espoused embodied a unified nation's beliefs about itself an understated confidence, even in hard times, a sense of fair play and a simplicity (sophisticates, today, would say 'a simplemindedness) about life and its purposes. The affection of that society for Bradman was enunciated in the opening phrase of the popular song that was written about him: 'Our Don Bradman'. Foulcher recalls the cricketer's reputation, in this poem, and subjects it to his keen poet's scrutiny. 'Bradman's last innings' is framed by the event commemorated in the title - Bradman's last appearance at the crease, and the irony of his unceremonious dismissal, on that occasion, without a single run to his credit: Bowled for a duck, you could have asked for better.... At the end of the poem, the experience of his last match is more bitterly registered four runs short of that century / average, at the last, betrayed by your own game - as the cruel summation of a brilliant career. Between, Foulcher sketches the great batsman's life in the context of its significance in Australian history and the momentous national and world events of the earlier part of this century. In making these connections, the poet indicates the national and international renown of Bradman in these tumultuous years.

During the grim time of the Great Depression, in the 1930s, ‘so many came to see you', and were momentarily lifted out of...
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