Shocked world leaders have expressed their deepest sympathies over the overnight fire that has razed Australia’s most sacred and revered site, the Bradman Museum at Bowral in country New South Wales.
And many millions of dollars of overseas funds have already been promised for the rebuilding of the historic centre, parts of which were many decades old and which attracted 30,000 visitors a decade as well.
The fire at the museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame had barely burned itself out around dawn when world leaders begun expressing their sorrow and shock at the news.
US President Donald Trump’s tweets were typical of world leaders who responded quickly to the news: “Yuge fire … the yugest many have ever seen… has broken the hearts of our wonderful allies Down Under, those sports-crazy Aussies. 1/3
“The citizens of the United States stand with you at this time of almost incomprehensible loss. Sport is that nation’s religion and I’m told the man known simply as The Don played the game of brad better than anyone else in its history. 2/3
“It’s hard for us in the northern hemisphere to comprehend the extent of this loss and the effect it will have on this nation’s psyche. We stand ready to help rebuild this place of worship revered by all Austrians. 3/3”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement: “This is not a set of ashes the British people would have ever want to see in Australia’s keeping.
“Our hearts go out to you at this time of enormous loss.
“I know that with typical Australian derring-do, you will rebuild this wonderful museum and hall of fame much faster than we’ll sort out our horrid Brexit mess.”
And French president Emmanuel Macron took time out from addressing his nation’s own grief over the loss of Notre Dame to say something in French about the Bowral fire that The Bug did not have time to translate.
Back in Australia, visibly shocked political leaders Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten halted campaigning and released a joint statement that “regardless of who wins the May 18 election, whatever funds are needed to restore this icon of Australian life to its former glory will be found … and found quickly.”
And One Nation’s NSW leader Mark Latham said: “I think I rooted a sheila on the oval there once”.
Queensland Senator Fraser Anning was subjected to a tirade of abuse and allegations of racism when he tweeted that the event would from today be remembered as “Black Wednesday”.
The fire in the picturesque Southern Highlands town broke out about 1am and with the museum containing scores of old wooden bats infused with linseed oil that The Don used over his amazing career, the fire’s fury was quickly obvious, with flames visible from across Bradman Oval.
Residents have praised fire and police officers who risked their lives to form a human chain to recover many of the priceless artifacts and icons contained in the museum and hall of fame. They included:
The protector (box) worn by The Don in his last Test innings at The Oval in 1946;
The golf ball The Don hit against that galvanised iron tank to hone his amazing reflexes;
The hair Ray Martin wore for his 1996 exclusive interview with The Don;
The poorly typed note The Don sent to his future bride Jessie Menzies asking “if you would honour me by accepting my offer to step out for a stroll in this beautiful autumnal day in God’s own country, an offer only conditional on the basis that, as I hope I have been informed correctly, you vote for the United Australia Party”; and
The handwritten note The Don pinned to the door of his ship cabin on the way to the 1930 Ashes where he told his teammates to “stop bothering me with your petty little grievances and banal suggestions”.