We who follow cricket know that Bradman is one of a kind. Cricket is the one game in the world where every debutant for the last 50 years has known with complete certainty, that he will never get within shouting distance of the records set by a man who retired in the middle of the twentieth century. If you wanted to bet that Rod Laver's achievement in completing two tennis Grand Slams wouldn't be surpassed in the next 50 years, a long-lived bookmaker might take your wager. If, with the Tiger on the prowl, you wanted to put money down on the invincibility of Jack Nicklaus's tally of major championships, he'd grab your money. But no bookie in his right mind will bet against Bradman. With that average of 99.94, Bradman lives alone on Olympus. Tendulkar, the best batsman today, with an average hovering around 57, labours in the foothills.
The singularity of Bradman's record doesn't simply lie in the distance between him and the next man; what makes it unique is that the gap shows no sign of closing. Think of another sport, of some extraordinary breakthrough that took the world's breath away when it occurred. Take Bob Beamon's monster jump in the Mexico Olympics. While the rest of the field was aiming at a record 28 feet, Beamon cleared 29. The record lasted a while then the world closed in and it was overhauled. In a comparable sport like baseball, Babe Ruth's home-run record stood for decades and was then broken in one season by two players. In the 53 years since Bradman's retirement, no batsman who has played 20 test matches has come within 30 runs of his average.