An unemployed New Zealand man is facing an extraordinary payday after picking up a cricket bat Sir Donald Bradman once owned for a few hundred dollars and now offering it up to a memorabilia auction.

James Sanders snapped up the bat for a few hundred dollars at a deceased estate auction.

Bradman’s signature adorns the bat alongside those of 16 English players, including Douglas Jardine, captain of the touring team during the infamous Bodyline Ashes series of 1932/33.

It will go under the hammer at Melbourne auction house Leski on 11 August.

Auctioneer Charles Leski, who has previously sold five other Bradman bats in the past 30 years, expects this one to fetch between $25,000 and $35,000.

The item is expected to attract interest from bidders in Australia, India, Pakistan and Britain.

Bradman, who died aged 92 in 2001, is considered the greatest cricketer of the 20th century and the greatest batsman who ever lived.

Leski said Bradman had used this bat to collect signatures.

“From the point of view of its collectibility, the key element is that it has been signed by Don Bradman in the ownership position in the top right-hand corner of the back of the blade,” he said.

“While we can say for certain the bat has been used, and we can say for certain it was used around the time of the Bodyline series, we can not say for certain any particular innings that it was used in.”

Jardine was the architect of the controversial and brutal bowling tactic that was employed by England on their tour of Australia in 1932-33. It was devised as a way of blunting the Australian’s batting prowess, and in particular that of Bradman.

Little is known about the bat’s time in New Zealand.

“If only the bat could speak,” Leski said.

A previous Badman bat Leski sold brought in $145,000 because it was the first bat the cricket legend had used during a Test match in Brisbane in 1928.

He said Sanders wasn’t a cricket tragic but sensed it was an important find based on the signatures of the English team.

“It’s a little bit Antiques Roadshow or one of those trash or treasure programs on television,” Leski said.

He joked it might be a great belated 80th birthday present for Australia’s former prime minister John Howard.

Sanders told the New Zealand Herald he had no emotional attachment to the bat and hopes it will find a home back in Australia where it belongs.

“I’m between jobs and had a bit of cash to spend from my redundancy and thought this would be a good investment,” he told the paper.

“I’m amazed at the price it might go for. It makes up for not having worked for a couple of months.”

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