I'm new to the forum (which I very much appreciate!) and I've been warned not to go around saying aspects of cricket should be changed to be more like baseballl (heaven forbid! that would truly be sacrilege). But I love baseball, being a Yank and having followed baseball for over 60 years now. But I also love cricket. I don't want to see either game become in any way more like the other. But I do love both games and because of that, I find it fascinating to compare differences between the two, and the consequences those differences have. I'd love to see a sub forum just for "cricket and baseball", but I suspect there are not enough folks familiar with or interested enough in baseball to justify that.
Anyway, I'd like to start with a question that one of my sons and I strongly disagree on. In baseball, Babe Ruth has a unique position. He was widely considered the best baseball player ever during his own time, and many today still consider him the best ever, though many now say he has been surpassed (by Mays or Aaron or Bonds, etc.), and objectively, virtually all of his single season and career records have been broken. However, there is general agreement that he stood out from his contemporaries statistically more than any other player before or after.
So, who in cricket's history stands out in the most similar way? My son says Bradman, because he was the greatest cricketer yet seen, with the most impressive stats, especially in Tests. I wouldn't argue the point about stats, but I'm sure that Grace is the true parallel to Ruth, because he was the first "super star" (an Americanism? I don't know, apologies if it is) of cricket. His stats don't match Bradman's, in part because Test cricket only started well into his career, and there were very few Tests during his career at all; in part, he may not have been nearly as outstanding a player as Bradman (I don't know enough to say). But he did stand out from his contemporaries, I believe, more than any other player before or since, and this is exactly what Ruth did.
As it happens, Bradman and Ruth played at the same time. In fact, as I learned from the flawed but fascinating book Flannels on the Sward (by Jayesh Patel), Bradman and Ruth met each other in New York in 1932, while (that should be whilst here, I guess?) Bradman was touring Canada with an Australian team (pp. 77-78; there is a whole book on this, Sissons' "Don Meets the Babe", but I haven't seen it yet). But when you compare the histories of cricket and baseball, I think Grace and Ruth are placed in similar positions in their sports' histories, much moreso than Bradman and Ruth. Based on what I've read in Major's More Than a Game, meaningful crickets stats begin around 1800, and become 'comprehensive' somewhere between 1820-1850. Of course, Grace played primarily from about 1865-1900. Baseball stats begin around 1870, and become 'comprehensive' around 1880, and Ruth played from 1914-1935. Thus both players flourished after statistics had become widespread (and so, popular interest in each game had also become widespread), but while statistics were still 'young'.
Anyway, I'd love to learn the opinion and perspective of those who know cricket history the way many Americans know baseball history, and who have at least a general idea of Ruth's position in baseball history.
edit: P.S. If the moderators feel this thread belongs is some other forum, please move it. This is just my best guess of where it should go.
2nd edit: corrected the spelling of Bradman throughout.