It was 1994 when Australian coach Justin Langer, already a Test batsman, mustered the courage to reach out to the great Sir Donald Bradman for advice.
Langer, who went on to play 105 Tests in a career than entrenched him as an Aussie great, was 23 and seeking advice from the best batsman ever on, among other things, how to play medium paced bowlers.
The now Australian coach was preparing for a tour of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and asked the “Don” about his mental preparation for Tests, and how he was so consistent.
“I feel a little bit shy about writing this letter, but I felt you may be able to offer me a little advice which may help me achieve myh goal of becoming a very successful test cricketer,” L:anger wrote to Bradman.
In a typed letter, dated just two days later, the cricket icon, who was then 86, replied with a message Langer said sits proudly on his wall at home, and one which he looks at nearly every day.
“As well as giving me valuable technical advice, Sir Donald told me he always played to have fun because he loved cricket,” Langer said.
“His letter to me is a treasured memory on my study wall. I see it every day when I‘m at home”.
Sir Donald Bradman in action in England in 1948 Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/ArchiveSource:Getty Images
In his reply Bradman said he was flattered by the suggestion an “octogenarian such as myself” could help Langer, who had made his Test debut against the West Indies in 1993.
Bradman directed Langer to buy the book he wrote, called “The Art of Cricket”, and to watch a video he had made about batting.
But among the other advice within Bradman‘s single-page response was his suggestion that a clean-living, physical fitness regime was as important as the “natural ability” the game’s greatest batsman possessed.
“My success in the game was more a matter of natural ability than anything else,” he wrote.
“I did not take any measures … other than live a normal and sensible non-smoking and non-drinking career .”
Justin Langer made 54 on debut against the West Indies in 1993.Source:News Corp Australia
Bradman, who averaged 99.94 in Test cricket, a mark to this day which remains untouched, also said the key to his success was his ability to concentrate and “impose my will on the bowler”.
The cricket icon, who passed away in 2001, also said he always played “for fun”.
“I loved the game. It never became a boring pastime,” he wrote.
In closing he told Langer to follow his instincts.
“And don’t be a slave to coaching,” Bradman write, an ironic statement given Langer moved straight out of playing to coaching.
The correspondence was released as part of a new book, Cricket – The Aussie Way! with Justin Langer, released on Wednesday and published on behalf of the Bradman museum.
Justin Langer’s letter to Sir Donald Bradman in 1994Source:Supplied
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