Millions say farewell to The Don
ADELAIDE, Australia, March 25 (AFP) - Millions throughout Australia and watching on television in India and Pakistan Sunday bade a dignified farewell to cricket legend Donald Bradman.
Bradman was hailed for his humility, integrity and sheer sporting genius by a select 700-strong gathering inside St Peter's Cathedral here Sunday evening.
But inclement weather reduced the crowd to less than 2,000 people at the adjacent Adelaide Oval, the scene of many of Bradman's triumphs, which was lit by candlelight at his request.
In a service televised live across the nation, and directly screened in India and Pakistan, Bradman's son John - who once changed his name to avoid the public curiosity associated with his famous surname - delivered a moving tribute that celebrated his father's life.
"Never in the slightest degree did he become his own hero," John Bradman told the gathering.
The Bradman family had been "astonished and moved to see he has touched so many lives" in the wake of the cricketer's death at his Adelaide home on February 25, aged 92.
In keeping with Bradman and his family's wishes there was a private funeral here last month.
John Bradman said changing his name to Bradsen in the 1970s was "an extremely difficult time for me", but his father was most understanding.
"He never tried to talk me out of it," he said. "The name change was really a case of like father, like son," referring to his father's renowned dislike for public attention.
Bradman told his son not to revert to the surname Bradman for the cricket great's sake, "but in part I did and I know it warmed him", John Bradman said.
He urged people not to treat his father as an religious icon.
"We mustn't be too serious about him and we mustn't treat him as a religious figure," he said. "Don't enslave him with worship."
Bradman had "foibles and contradictions like the rest of us", John Bradman said.
John Bradman's daughter, Greta, also addressed the service, which was attended by Prime Minister John Howard, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and former cricket greats including ex-Australian captain Richie Benaud and members of Bradman's famous Invincibles side which toured England undefeated in 1948.
Former West Indian greats Everton Weekes and Vivian Richards sat together at the memorial service.
Benaud told of Bradman the sportsman, saying he was lucky to be around when The Don loomed large as the national chairman of selectors.
The current doyen of cricket commentary delivered a warm, often amusing, but always joyous speech.
"He had the most brilliant and incisive mind of anyone I have come across in cricket," Benaud said.
"But above all, he was a true Aussie. He was a sportsman not just for a few sessions, or a few days, but for all eras and all sports followers."