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  Monday, 26 February, 2001, 10:38 GMT
A true Aussie hero
The Australian squad observes a minutes's silence for Sir Donald Bradman
The Australian squad observes a minutes's silence
Australian batsman Justin Langer offers a personal reflection on the death of Sir Donald Bradman.

On the eve of the first Test match here in Mumbai, it saddened me to read a note left underneath the door of my hotel room, when I woke up this morning.

"Justin, please be aware Sir Donald Bradman has passed away."

Had our team manager not left the note, I soon would have heard the news. Within five minutes of my wake-up call, I had received two telephone calls from Indian residents who could not believe that the greatest batsman to ever live, was living no more.

One of the callers expressed a shattered dream, as his great ambition in this life was to meet the great Sir Donald Bradman. Now his dream was in tatters and he was in a state of mourning.

In this cricket loving society, The Don is like a God. It is as simple as that.

At home, it is almost the same. Few people in the course of Australia's relatively short history have made the same impact as the great Bradman.

Steve Waugh answers questions about Sir Donald Bradman
Steve Waugh fields questions from journalists

As a cricket player, he bought hope to millions of people through the depressing war years. He was a hero for every man, woman and child alike. There wouldn't be an Australian who doesn't know the name Bradman to one degree or another.

One of the main reasons I have achieved the ambition of wearing the baggy green cap is due to the folklore of Bradman.

If this batting genius could make such an impact through his deeds on a cricket field, then, like hundreds of thousands of aspiring young players, why couldn't I also give it a go.

His feats were so great they were almost mythical. I am sure, and I hope, his passing will bring his legend more to life, forever.

I remember writing Sir Don a letter in 1985. This was something since I was a young boy that I always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, I had never gotten around to it.

When I finally plucked up the courage to write I received a reply within two days. His promptness amazed me but not as much as the content of his reply.

His first line to me was: " I am honoured that you have asked an octogenarian like myself for advice."

Bradman batting against England in 1934
Bradman batting against England in 1934

Can you believe, the great Sir Doanld Bradman, was honoured to have me ask him for advice? I was blown away by his humbleness.

During my stint at the Cricket Academy based in his hometown in Adelaide, Sir Don came to a dinner function held in his honour.

During the course of the evening one of my eager and curious fellow scholarship holders asked some advice.

He said: "Sir Don, what did you used to do when you were in a slump or out of form?"

To this he simply smiled coyly and replied "Son, I was never out of form or in a slump."

Priceless!

To this day, I, like many other cricket lovers around the world, have photographs of the greatest batsman decorating the walls of my home.

He was, and still will be, a source of tremendous inspiration and hope. Yesterday he may have passed from this life but his spirit will always remain.

From Mumbai,
JL

Sir Donald Bradman dies aged 92

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