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Laser and sonar technology uncovers secret scores on back of Sir Donald Bradman’s first bat

Selina Steele, August 22, 2019 6:45PM News Corp Australia Network

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Donald Bradman walking out to bat at his testimonial match at the MCG in Melbourne in 1948. media_cameraDonald Bradman walking out to bat at his testimonial match at the MCG in Melbourne in 1948.


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Laser* and sonar* technology has uncovered never seen before handwritten scores on the back of Sir Donald Bradman’s first cricket bat.

Bradman is widely regarded as the greatest batsman of all time. He represented Australia in cricket for 20 years, playing 52 Tests from 1928-29 to 1948.

He retired with a batting average of 99.94, meaning that’s how many runs, on average, he would score before getting out. His average was twice as good as any other player in the world.

This week, the Bradman Museum in Bowral, south of Sydney where Bradman grew up, confirmed the discovery of the scores etched* on the bat given to Bradman as gift when he was 12 years old.

Scores of 100, 200 and 300 can be seen scratched into the wood thanks to powerful photo technology that takes “gigapixel” images — which are very tiny dots that make up a larger image.

The laser and sonar system makes sure the camera is always in focus while software inputs the stills and stitches them all together.

media_cameraClose up images of etchings on Donald Bradman’s first bat. Picture: Supplied

The discovery of the secret scribblings, invisible to the naked eye, are courtesy of a partnership between the Bradman Museum and Google, who have launched a sporting exhibition called Great Sporting Land.

Two years in the making, the exhibition features more than 11,000 archived* images from different sports including AFL and surfing — and eight cricket bats from the Bradman Museum.

So detailed are the images, you can see the timber Bradman’s dad George, a carpenter, spliced* in to repair the bat Bradman used until he was 17 and on Victor Trumper’s 1902 Test bat, a poem written on the handle binding*.

media_cameraSir Donald Bradman in action. Picture: AFP
Donald (Don) Bradman's batting techniques, making a hook shot sport  cricket action history media_cameraDonald Bradman demonstrates a pull shot.

Bradman Museum executive director Rina Hore said: “This technology allows you to explore detail the naked eye can’t see — you get so close you can get under the oil and varnish of the old bats.

“It’s incredible to see Sir Donald Bradman’s handwriting on the bats … and the indentation* on the front, the blade, is just eerie*. The ball indentation is just so central — to see how the timber has been crushed from continual* pounding all in the one spot.

“Digital technology gives you an insight into his ability just by these markings.”

Google director of art and culture Amit Sood said: “We chose Australia to kick off this celebration of sport because it has been a powerhouse* in the sporting world.

“The wonderful thing about sport in Australia is that it is so unifying*. It transcends* background, class*, gender, ethnicity* and more.”

The collection, which also includes the bat Bradman used in his world record knock* of 452, can be viewed at

Never-before-seen Bradman


  • Born: in Cootamundra, NSW on August 27, 1908, but spent his early years in the NSW town of Bowral.
  • Died: February 21, 2001, aged 92.
  • Nickname: The Don.
  • First century: He scored 115 not out when he was 12 in the 1920-21 season. The young Don was playing for Bowral School against Mittagong School.
  • Average of 99.94: Bradman’s batting average over his career in Test matches against all countries was 99.94 — if he had remained not out or scored four more runs before losing his wicket in his final Test innings at The Oval in 1948, he would have averaged 100 per innings.
  • Test bowling record: Two wickets. He was a right arm leg-spinner.
  • Fun fact #1: He developed his batting skills by repeatedly hitting a golf ball with a cricket stump against the curved brick base of the family water tank.
  • Fun fact #2: In his Test career, Don Bradman scored 26 per cent of the team’s total runs.


  • Knighted in 1949. The only Australian cricketer ever to receive a knighthood* and the first Test cricketer ever honoured this way.
  • Received a Companion of the Order of Australia* in 1979.
  • Voted the greatest male athlete of the past 200 years by the Australian Confederation of Sport in 1988.
  • Selected as one of only two Australians by International Who’s Who for the top 100 people who have done the most to shape the 20th century. The other Australian selected was media magnate* Rupert Murdoch
  • Nominated among the Top 10 sportspeople of the 20th century by the World Confederation of Sport.
  • Named Male Athlete of the Century in 1999 by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
  • Ranked the No. 1 Australian Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated magazine.
  • In 2000 he was voted the greatest cricketer of the 20th century by Wisden Cricket Almanack. This decision was unanimous* among the 100 judges.
  • Nominated captain of the Australian Cricket Team of the Century
  • * In 2009, he was inducted posthumously* into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame


  • laser: an intense beam of light
  • sonar: device for detecting objects using reflected sound waves
  • etched: scratched into a surface
  • gigapixel: a unit of graphic resolution equivalent to one thousand million pixels
  • spliced: joined
  • binding: a strong covering
  • indentation: a dent in the surface
  • eerie: strange and frightening
  • continual: goes on and on
  • powerhouse: something of great power
  • unifying: brings people together
  • transcends: go beyond
  • class: category or ranking in society
  • ethnicity: a person’s culture
  • knock: score
  • knighthood: being made a knight by a monarch
  • Companion of the Order of Australia: an award for achievements of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity.
  • magnate: wealthy and influential businessman or woman
  • unanimous: all in agreement
  • posthumously: after death


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  1. What was Donald Bradman’s nickname?
  2. What was his average batting score?
  3. What numbers can now be seen on his first bat?
  4. Where is the museum dedicated to Don Bradman?
  5. Why is he called Sir Donald Bradman?


1. Write a letter of thanks

Sir Donald Bradman received this bat as a gift when he was 12 years old. The generous gift-giver would have had no idea that their present to a young boy would go on to become an important piece of sporting memorabilia in Australia.

Although the gift giver is almost certainly no longer alive, write a letter of thanks to this person, explaining why you are happy that they gave the bat to Donald Bradman when he was a boy. Explain how that bat helped to shape not just Bradman’s life but helped to shape sport and cricket in Australia and the world. What did that bat help Bradman to achieve? Use details from the article to help illustrate how this gift made such an impact on Australia’s sporting history.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences — History

2. Extension
Sir Donald Bradman is legendary in the cricket world. However, we have many other inspirational athletes in our rich sporting history.

Use the link to the Great Sporting Land exhibition to find out about another Australian sporting legend.

What can you find out about this person? There will be some information on the site however you may need to do some more research about them as well.

Write a short biography about them. If you can include the following:

  • Full name
  • When they were born, when they died (if applicable)
  • Sport they are famous for, achievements
  • Are they known for any work outside sport (eg; charity work?)

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences — History

The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What is the most inspiring gift you have ever received?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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