A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT PRIMARY OBJECT FROM DON BRADMAN'S RECORD-BREAKING 1930 ASHES DEBUT IN ENGLAND.
In the 1920s, the Australian Test cap evolved from the Edwardian skullcap of Victor Trumper's era to the more recognisable baggy green design. Harding's Mercery manufactured the Australian XI team blazer and test cap during the 1920s including the 1930 Ashes tour of England. The two distinguishing features of the caps made by Harding's Mercery were the use of the "Advance Australia" motto and the omission of a series/season year date below the coat-of-arms. The team blazer was the one item of apparel to show a series/season date below a conforming coat-of-arms and motto (Christie's Australia, The Clarrie Grimmett Collection, 13 May 1998, Lot 138-139)
Some players customised the baggy green cap as an item of playing equipment. During the 1930 tour of England, Clarrie Grimmett, the Australian right-arm leg spin bowler wore a "specially manufactured" baggy green cap, which included the date 1930 below the coat-of-arms and "Advance Australia" motto. (Christie's Australia, The Clarrie Grimmett Collection, 13 May 1998, Lot 127)
Sometime after the 1930 tour of England, Farmer's Sydney commenced making the baggy green cap. The bottle green colour and baggy shape remained unaltered but the "Advance Australia" motto was changed to "Australia" and a series/season date was included below the coat-of-arms. For an early example of a baggy green cap by Farmer's Sydney see W.M. Woodfull's 1932-33 Bodyline series Test cap, Christie's Australia, Cricket Memorabilia, 27 June 1999, Lot 452.
In November 2003, Bradman's 1928/29 Test debut cap made by Harding's Mercery was donated to the Bradman Collection at the South Australia State Library. Also undated, it was given by Bradman to a schoolboy family friend in the 1950s.
The reappearance of the 1928/29 baggy green cap establishes a chronology of caps made for Bradman by Harding's Mercery. As previously discussed, any cap worn by Bradman after 1930 would be made by Farmer's Sydney showing the subsequent design changes and would include a series/season date. Therefore, Harding's Mercery would have made no fewer than two baggy green caps for Bradman, one for his 1928/29 Test debut in Australia and another for the 1930 tour of England. Well known to be generous with all his cricket equipment and apparel one can see how Bradman on his return cruise to Australia presented his baggy green cap to Mr Mills. The development in the design of the baggy green cap during the 1920s, and its subsequent changes after 1930 together with the provenance, establishes this cap as the one worn by Bradman during his record-breaking 1930 debut in England.
In 1930, Bradman made his debut on English soil aged 21. His 236 in the first match at Worcester made him the youngest overseas player to score a double century in England. It was also the highest score ever by an Australian in his first match in England, the best by a visitor in his first innings of an English tour and the highest score made by any batsman on his first tour of any country. Bradman became the first Australian to score 1,000 runs in England before the end of May 1930. In the first Test, he scored 131, followed by 254 in the second at Lord's.
In the third Test at Leeds, he broke the world Test batting record with 334 scoring 309 runs in a day. This included 105 before lunch, 115 in the afternoon session and 89 after tea. He became the third batsman after Trumper in 1902 and Macartney in 1926 to score a century before lunch. In later years, Bradman recalled, "in a long career there are many outstanding memories but I suppose the opening day of the third Test at Leeds must rank as the greatest in my cricketing life. To break the world's record Test score was exciting. To do so against Australia's oldest and strongest rival was satisfying. More than anything else, however was the knowledge that I scored the runs at such a fast rate and therefore provided entertainment for the spectators."
In the fifth Test played at the Oval, England scored 405 in the first innings and Australia replied with 695. During a seven-hour innings, Bradman contributed 232 runs and in partnership with Jackson put on 243 runs in four and half-hours. Duckworth standing back to the bowling of Larwood with the score at 570 finally caught Bradman. B.J. Wakley writes: "His defence, even during the period when the wicket was all in favour of the fast bowlers (Peebles and Larwood), was perfect, and his relentless determination to make a big score in the interests of his side was never more apparent" (Classic Centuries, 1964).
When Bradman reached 164, his aggregate for the series was 906 runs, passing the previous Test match aggregate record of 905 set by Hammond in 1928-29. Bradman's final aggregate for the 1930 series was 974 in seven innings at an average of 139.14, which remains the highest on record. This was his fourth century of the series, the only time this had been done in England or by an Australian in Tests. It was Bradman's sixth century against England, out of a total of nineteen, equalling the record set by both Trumper and Woodfull. This double century being Bradman's third of the series was another record, with him scoring a total of eight against England. He is the only batsman to score a double century on three different grounds and centuries on four different grounds in England. Australia won the fifth Test by an innings and 39 runs and the Ashes series 2-1 with 2 draws.
Don Bradman's 1930 baggy green cap is a testimony to his character as a player and his unrivalled ability as the games greatest batsman. It is also a unique symbol worn by Australia's finest cricketer during a golden age of cricket.