IIRC some sporting statistitian once did an analysis that indicated The Don’s batting average, so far above the second best, was over four standard deviations above the mean which was the equivalent of a career baseball batting average of about 600.
As a sportsman whose exploits transcended both his sport and his country, he would be on a par with Pele, Ali, Jordon and very few others.
His place at the heart of Australian identity is interesting because he wasn’t a stereotypical Australian role model. He wasn’t a larikin, rarely drank, would usually retire to his room with classical music rather than carouse with the touring party.
He had some hefty stoushes with the authorities when playing but became pretty authoritarian in his own right as an administrator. To a large part his conservative stance on cricket finances made the Packer revolution of the 70s inevitable. Conversely he was always ahead of his time in trying to make the game attractive to the public.
He was one of the first cricketers to exploit the commercial aspects of his abilities (and good on him for it) at a time when the sport was almost purely amateur. However the flood of public attention because so great that he realised it could overwhelm him.
I believe the Lindenburg kidnapping was a key to his realisation that fame could extract a fearful price and he largely withdrew from the public eye, but was never far from his sport.
To me the greatness was his humility superimposed on that phenomenal talent and intense work ethic. Reports have suggested that he would was still answering as many as 80 letters per day possible even into his 90’s.
vale “The Don”