It is, perhaps, the most important four numbers in sport...and yet, outside of a select few countries, no one has much idea of what they refer to.
The best of the best. It's a bold statement to make, certainly. There are many factors that go into deciding whether a sportsperson stands out beyond the elite. Names like Jordan, Nicklaus, Cobb, Petty, Ruth and even Earnhardt I'm sure you are more familiar with...but as I'm not American, I have to stick up for 'my' man; Bradman.
I never saw Bradman ply his trade on cricket pitches as his playing career stopped some 30 years before I was born, so I can only imagine what it would have been like. Newspaper headlines from England just had to say 'he's out!' and people instantly knew what they were talking about. His test match playing career spanned twenty years, broken up by World War 2, and he ended up just four runs short of averaging 100.00. But still, 99.94 is leagues ahead of the next best.
An excerpt from his cricinfo page says, "unquestionably the greatest batsman in the game, arguably the greatest cricketer ever, and one of the finest sportsmen of all time, Don Bradman was so far ahead of the competition as to render comparisons meaningless and to transcend the game he graced."
Mathematics agree with this; Sir Donald Bradman was the best ever...if you go by standard deviations.
Bradman rises up above the elite with his number being 4.4. To put that into perspective, MJ would have needed to average a further 13 points per game, Jack would have added another 7 majors and Cobb needed a 0.392 batting rating instead of 0.367 to match that figure.
So, I hope you may forgive me for being callous about the ten year anniversary of the passing of Dale but, in my eyes, the world lost a far greater sportsperson a week later.
Sir Donald Bradman...no one will ever come close.