Ricky Ponting has rated the achievements of Don Bradman above those of the Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz and sprinter Usain Bolt. On the 100th anniversary of Bradman's birth, Ponting will deliver the Bradman Oration in Sydney and speak about his "ageless legacy".
Ponting said the performances of Phelps and Bolt in Beijing, and Spitz in Munich in 1972, were some of the greatest sporting achievements in history, but he does not believe the athletes match Bradman. "Of the 2519 batsmen who have taken the crease in 131 years of Test cricket, Bradman stands alone and untouched," he said in the Australian. "I am not aware of any other sport which has one competitor so far above any other performer.
"He dominated cricket for 20 years from his debut in 1928 to his retirement 60 years ago this month and if he had not lost eight years of his career to World War II his figures would no doubt be better still. At every Olympics plenty of records are broken. Bradman remains unassailable."
Ponting doubted it was possible for a modern player to score 300 runs in a day, like Bradman did at Leeds in 1930. "As a team we do try and score at least 300 runs a day in Test cricket," he said. "In honour of Bradman's legacy that's the least we can do."
Bradman was born in the small New South Wales town of Cootamundra in 1908 and spent time in Bowral and Sydney before moving to Adelaide in the mid-1930s. In 52 Tests he scored 6996 runs, finishing with a zero at The Oval in 1948 when four runs would have given him an average of 100.
"There are thousands of kids in every generation who grow up in Australia wanting to scale the heights of the greatest cricketer who ever lived," Ponting said. "As boys and girls discovering the great joys and mysteries of playing and watching cricket, we might not know much about Don Bradman the man but we quickly realise the magnitude of his achievements."
Ponting said it was "amusing" when people compared him to Bradman. "There's no need to even look at the record books to know there is no comparison," he said. Ponting's average over 119 Tests currently stands at 58.37 - a long way from 99.94.
David Morgan, the ICC president, also paid tribute to Bradman.
"No name in cricket conjures up such widespread awe and respect as that of Sir Donald Bradman," Morgan said. "Even people with just a passing knowledge of the game or in countries where he never played will invariably recognise the name Bradman as a by-word for brilliance.
"Even now, 60 years after his final Test match and with time to put his achievements into context, his batting average of 99.94 still seems scarcely believable, especially when one compares it to those of the many other players to have graced the game at the highest level.
"We should also remember the way he gave back to the game after he finished playing, as a selector and as an administrator with the Australian Cricket Board and the Imperial Cricket Conference. Sir Donald's life was a lifetime of service to cricket and his legacy is that our strong sport continues to grow stronger."