Bradman letters hint at flirtation

Contrary to public myth, new letters revealing a side of cricket's eternal super hero Don Bradman are causing a small storm about privacy, ethics and the fallibility of sporting heroes.


At the heart of the furore is a series of letters written by the great cricketer on the 1930 tour of England. Then unofficially betrothed to his future wife Jessie, Bradman appears to have had a dalliance with a mysterious young woman called Nina while on the 1930 tour of England.

The five letters will be offered for sale in Sydney next month at Bonhams & Goodman, with a price estimate of up to $20,000, according to Saturday's edition of The Age. The vendor is Bradman's god-daughter, Jan Steele.

Speaking from Perth, Ms. Steele, who inherited the letters from her late father, Bert Kortlang, dismissed the Bradman Museum's anger at their sale. The letters were historically significant, she said, and provided a rare window into the man.

At the centre of the dispute are cryptic references in letters Bradman wrote in 1930 to Kortlang, a close friend and mentor. Among other things, Bradman laments that there will be no more parties at Kortlang's London home, and then mentions that `Nina' is also sorry. He then quashes rumours of a story going around that he is engaged to a girl from Bristol or that he intends to get engaged.

In another letter, Bradman asks Kortlang to organise another surprise evening with Nina, using her initial N, complete with detailed, if cryptic, suggestions of meeting times and locations. ``I'm afraid it will be difficult to make a surprise out of it again for N,'' he writes. ``(Nina) is a bit awake now.''