It's widely known, too, that 99.94 makes Bradman not just the best cricketer of all time, but the best sportsman. Statistically, no-one else in any sport has dominated as Bradman did. 99.94 made him almost 40 per cent better than anyone else who has ever played cricket, a margin that Pele, Nicklaus, Jordan or anyone else cannot approach in their disciplines.
Jeff Thomson once said, 'I didn't believe that anyone could be twice as good as Greg Chappell,' and then he saw the Don messing around in the nets as a 60-something, no pads, dispatching it everywhere.
I came across a lesser-known study that attempted to compare Bradman with players from different eras. Using a 'coefficient of variation' of batting averages, it calculated that a modern player would need to average 77 to match Bradman.
The study was made at the end of the 90s, before the current era of the bat, so the number may have ticked up a notch, but modern gods Ponting (57), Yousuf and Kallis (55) and Tendulkar (54) fall a long way short. Mike Hussey is the closest at 64, but it feels like he's not begun properly yet. Gilchrist was in the 60s too at one point. None of Pollock, Headley and Sutcliffe, who all finished with career averages above 60, made more than 5000 test runs; Pollock and Headley made less than Hussey has now.
Still, 77. Not even on the horizon. And now it may never be. What I was driving at in this post was that the measures that describe success in cricket feel as though they are about to change. An average, as long as it's acceptable, already means less in limited overs cricket than strike rate. Just as Twenty20 has accelerated 50 over matches, so it will accelerate Tests.
Geoff Boycott, a surprisingly progressive commentator, has already suggested four-day Tests, played as day-nighters, would be a more viable commercial proposition. It will surely happen.
When it does, the meaning of stats will change, subtly at first, and then irrevocably. 99.94 will prove harder to understand.
In the study that showed Bradman was statistically better than anyone in any other sport, the third-most dominant athlete was baseball's Ty Cobb. He played a version of the game that is unrecognisable to the baseball fans of today. They attach more meaning to power-hitting records like those held by McGwire and Bonds than they do to Cobb's base stealing and RBIs.
How we adjust 99.94 in a new era will become important in keeping the game connected to its history. The Don is receding, but not in meaning.