Media royalty Ray Martin has relived the “huge honour” it was to interview Sir Donald Bradman, recalling a moment in the cricket legend’s Adelaide home that made him feel like he’d “gone to heaven”.
That magical moment in the iconic 1996 interview saw the greatest cricketer of all time play a cover drive in his living room right before Martin’s eyes.
“I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was amazing,” Martin told Steve Smith on the champion Australian batsman’s YouTube channel The Steve Smith Cricket Academy.
“He stood up and played a cover drive. He had just a cardigan on and little trousers and he was only 5 foot 6 (170 centimetres). Tiny feet. He showed tiny feet and big, woodcutter hands. And he stood up and played this cover drive and the hairs on the back of my head stood up. I’d never seen anything (like it).”
The interview, filmed across two days, also gave Martin the chance to walk with Bradman across Adelaide Oval.
As they strode across the picturesque ground, Martin held the bat that Bradman had used in the most prolific Test series of his career.
The New South Welshman dominated Australia’s victorious 1930 Ashes tour of England, garnering 974 runs, including his top Test score of 334, at an average of 139.14.
“I walked across the Adelaide Oval with him holding the bat, without gloves on, holding the bat that he’d used in the ’29-30 tour, when he broke all the world records first up as a young kid,” Martin told Smith.
“And the rubber on the bat handle was starting to crumble in my hand. I thought, ‘It’s like taking a cook’s diary and destroying it’ … I should have had gloves on.”
When Martin first requested an interview with Bradman, at a special dinner in the early 1990s, ‘The Don’ laughed.
“Good try, good try, son,” Bradman chuckled.
The former Australian captain did tell Martin that if he ever did a television interview that he’d do it with him, but the five-time Gold Logie Award winner took the comment as “one of those things they throw away”.
How humble Martin was.
About five years later, the man behind World Series Cricket in the late 1970s, all-powerful businessman Kerry Packer, wanted Bradman to be interviewed in an effort to raise $1 million for the Bradman Museum in Bowral.
And Bradman stuck to his word, insisting that Martin conducted the interview, which aired on former Nine program Midday.
“I don’t know any field,” Martin said, “of sport or entertainment or writing or business, where someone has been here, and then daylight, to the next person.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!