This thesis analyses the representation of the nation's greatest cricketer and renowned national hero, Sir Donald Bradman (1908-2001), in Australian culture. Bradman's many cricket records and awards tell us something of how his reputation has been attained and maintained, but they are of limited help in explaining why he is considered an outstanding and uniquely Australian icon. There is a need for explanation in this case due to the overwhelming shortage of critical academic investigation into Bradman in the fields of Australian studies, cultural studies, history and sports studies, which is a surprising omission given the Don's ubiquitousness in Australian popular culture.
My study has two interrelated aims. Firstly, I seek to examine many of the specific ways that Bradman has been represented in an attempt to explain his heroism. Secondly, via this case study of the Don, it is intended to highlight and analyse some of the cultural discourses and narratives informing Australian iconography and mythologies. It is argued that the interaction between an identifiable combination of representations has constructed Bradman as a uniquely Australian icon, and that, in turn, these representations have both drawn upon and informed dominant formations of Australian iconography and culture. Major issues analysed include heroism, nostalgia, nationalism, mythology, commodification, politics and gender. Attention is also drawn to issues of statistical authority, media, celebrity, scandal, race and class. The objective is to layer different dimensions of Bradman's representation, each dimension affecting and modifying the other, thereby creating an 'ensemble of narratives' that help explain why he is a hero and, in the process, also tell us something about Australian culture.