G.H. Hardy, the Cambridge mathematician who mentored Ramanujan, used to class mathematicians in cricketing terms. The best were in the Hobbs class, named after the great English opening batsman. Then along came the Bowral Boy and Hardy, reluctantly but fairly, demoted his countryman and created a new category, the Bradman class. The rightness of naming the summit of achievement after Bradman is obvious, but it does raise a question: having created the category, who on earth could Hardy have found to fill it?
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.