I am sure you are saying, “Come on Adi. Tell us something new”. Okay then, this is the news: Don Bradman’s average could actually be 100 if we are to believe a particular gentleman by name Charles Davis [a former scientist, is now a sport statistician. He is the author of Best Of The Best, a detailed examination of Bradman’s career]. This is how the story goes as quoted by him here.
Some years ago I embarked on a project to examine old Test match scorebooks closely, to uncover previously hidden statistics, such as balls faced. Over the years, it came as a great surprise to find that apparent errors and anomalies arise quite regularly.
In the scorebook of the epic eight-day fifth Test of 1928-29 against England in Melbourne, won by Australia by five wickets, there is a “problem” boundary in the final stages, when Bradman was batting with Jack Ryder. (I found this when rescoring the Test, ball by ball, to re-create the exact sequence of events.)
While he goes on waxing eloquent about the errors in those paper-based scoring matches during those days, there comes a point when he does not really want to challenge History and get down to the depth of the matter despite having done the donkey’s work. Maybe it is not practical, but he won’t know if he doesn’t try after having come this close.
Most of Bradman’s scorebooks have not been checked at this level of detail. It is painstaking work. However, the chances of finding other anomalies, based on experience with many other scores, seem high.
Then he says,
Unfortunately, most of these anomalies are inconclusive. If something in a scorebook does not compute, this does not mean that the accepted score must be wrong.
Finally comes the cat on the wall statement,
It is worth remembering, of course, that errors could easily cut both ways: Bradman could lose runs as easily as gain runs this way. Ultimately, that iconic average of 99.94 will probably stand. Wisden is against the retrospective alteration of scores (“that way madness lies”) and I tend to agree. I do think, however, that problems with scores from the pre-computer age may create uncertainties of a few parts in a thousand.
But what is not doubted, ever, is that the average is 99.94. And that is final.