Some years ago, one of this site’s regular correspondents set what I imagine he thought would be an all-time altitude record for match reporting. He claimed that the match was taking place at an altitude (and I quote) of 3,500m.
Now there is something rather strange about this, don’t you think? What are the chances of that altitude being exactly 3,500m? Given that there are 100 possible combinations of digits for the final two places, what are the chances of them being zero-zero? In other words, what are the odds of this one thing happening out of 100 chances? I’ve done some calculating, and I can tell you that the odds are less than one in a billion, which is therefore zero.
What this means is that the reported altitude of 3,500m is almost certainly a rounding (or as it is also known, a lie). Now nobody would round down, so it is virtually certain that the actual altitude was less than 3,500m. Given that there are far more numbers less than, for example, 3,465m than there are between 3,465m and 3,500m, the odds heavily favour the actual altitude being lower than 3,465m.
So, to business. I’ve just been on my holidays, and I took this photo of Kapil Dev playing cricket at the Jungfraujoch, at an altitude of 3,466m. This is therefore the new altitude record for cricket match reporting on this website. Thank you very much.
Kapil Dev, being an international captain of much experience, had elected to bowl on a fairly green wicket. In a rather unusual move, he had set a field comprising almost entirely of extremely short mid-ons and mid-offs. John Embury was clearly finding it difficult to find his rhythm with such a field, as can be seen in this photo of him playing a rather flat-footed straight drive when nobody is bowling.
Chris Broad also played, hitting a six onto the glacier at one point. The six-over match was won by one of the teams – the one who scored more runs than the other.
Er, what else can I tell you. Oh, I know, Farokh Engineer was also playing. As were some other people.
Now I know that reporting of actual cricket is frowned upon in these parts, so some of you might have found the last few sentences somewhat disturbing. But never fear, because strictly speaking what I actually took was a photo of a photo of Kapil Dev playing cricket at the Jungfraujoch in August 2009, on a poster in the visitor tunnels. In 2009 I was on holiday in the Lake District, but I would certainly have been following the match closely if I’d known about it. In fact, I do recall having a vague feeling of slight cold one afternoon, which with hindsight can only have been due to a psychic connection with the crowd in the Berner Oberland.
These details in no way invalidate the altitude record, which is mine forever.12 Appeals
Stats. Stats! #Stats
But not weird, complicated stats. Big, bold, lumpen stats. They probably won’t change your thinking, but they’ll allow you to put a value to your opinions so that you can make them sound more credible and scientific.
This article stems from a series of predictions we made five years ago. We’ve already looked at how those went (mixed), but we thought it would also be interesting to see which players really did have most success in that period.
Let’s not get too fancy with this. Highest averages from a minimum of 20 Tests. For reference, the time period is from when we wrote our original article, so it’s not five years exactly.
- Kumar Sangakkara – 65.87
- Hashim Amla – 64.13
- Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 62.72
- AB de Villiers – 62.27
- Younus Khan – 60.13
So we basically got one right – De Villiers.
It’s interesting to note the age of these players: 37, 31, 40, 30 and 37. While three of these players are clearly towards the ends of their careers, Amla and De Villiers can legitimately expect to remain near the top of the pile in the next five-year period as well. Don’t listen next time someone tells you that a 32-year-old batsman’s on the slide.
Not quite sure how to balance this. Let’s do wicketkeepers first because that’s a bit simpler. Criteria: at least 20 Tests with the gloves. Sounds a lot, but we’re talking about a five-year period here so we can afford to be strict.
- AB de Villiers – 60.77
- BJ Watling – 44.00
- Mushfiqur Rahim – 39.82
- Matt Prior – 38.51
- MS Dhoni – 36.48
Good on BJ Watling and Mushfiqur Rahim, but it’s hard not to comment on De Villiers cropping up again. His average is different to the one given above because he only kept wicket in 21 Tests. For what it’s worth, our two selections – Prior and Dhoni – were the top two run-scorers out of that lot.
As for batting-bowling all-rounders, let’s say at least 20 matches, at least 30 wickets. Given those criteria, these guys are the only ones whose batting average exceeds their bowling average.
- Jacques Kallis – 57.92 and 44.52
- Shakib al Hasan – 43.19 and 33.10
- Mohammad Hafeez – 39.26 and 30.66
- Shane Watson – 37.93 and 32.05
- R Ashwin – 35.96 and 30.67
- Vernon Philander – 26.80 and 21.95
We got Shakib out of those. It’s hard to compare them properly though. For example, it’s worth noting that Ashwin and Philander both have over a hundred wickets to their name during this period, wheras Kallis took just 34 in 35 matches.
Pretty strict again, but best averages with a minimum of 100 wickets.
- Dale Steyn – 21.69
- Vernon Philander – 21.95
- Ryan Harris – 23.52
- James Anderson – 26.71
- Rangana Herath – 26.95
We got Steyn. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t get Herath. He comfortably meets the criteria as well. He’s actually taken more wickets (191) than both Philander (121) and Harris (113).
Damn straight.12 Appeals
Five years ago, we picked out five batsmen, four all-rounders and five bowlers who we thought would be the best over the next five-year period. Let’s have a look at how wrong we were.
Here’s who we picked. Let’s look at their records at the point at which we picked them and how they’ve fared since then. We’ll stick to Tests so that this doesn’t become too much of a statsfest.
Ross Taylor: 1,496 runs at 41.55 when we picked him. 3,135 runs at 47.50 since then.
JP Duminy: 389 runs at 48.62 when we picked him. 891 runs at 33.00 since then.
AB de Villiers: 3,558 runs at 43.92 when we picked him. 4,048 runs at 62.27 since then.
Michael Clarke: 3,693 runs at 49.24 when we picked him. 4,780 runs at 51.95 since then.
Gautam Gambhir: 2,553 runs at 56.73 when we picked him. 1,493 runs at 29.86 since then.
Three reasonable calls and two wrong ones you’d say. It’s notable that the two failures are the two who’d been in a particularly rich vein of form at the time of writing.
Duminy isn’t such a great surprise in that even at that early stage he looked a bit wobbly against the short ball, but we did expect more from Gambhir. He seemed to be a player who had to work hard to succeed so we thought he’d still be going well while those to whom batting came more easily might have grown complacent. However, if he was a fighter, he was a fairweather fighter and fairly or unfairly he’ll probably always be remembered for his ‘wait until you come to India’ type comments during a chastening tour of Australia.
Shakib Al Hasan: 715 runs at 29.79 and 48 wickets at 28.27 when we picked him. 1,814 runs at 43.19 and 92 wickets at 33.10 since then.
Dwayne Bravo: 1,856 runs at 32.00 and 73 wickets at 39.57 when we picked him. 344 runs at 28.66 and 13 wickets at 41.30 since then.
MS Dhoni: 2,176 runs at 40.29 when we picked him. 2,700 runs at 36.48 since then.
Matt Prior: 1,326 runs at 44.20 when we picked him. 2,773 runs at 38.51 since then.
Stuart Broad: 767 runs at 30.68 and 64 wickets at 35.78 when we picked him. 1,426 runs at 21.60 and 200 wickets at 28.02 since then.
Shakib Al Hasan’s pretty much held up his side of the bargain and that was quite a leftfield call back then. Dhoni and Matt Prior were actually the top-scoring wicketkeepers in that five-year period, even if their records seem nothing to write home about.
If Stuart Broad now seems a ridiculous selection, his bowling did at least improve, even if his batting means he shouldn’t be in this section. Dwayne Bravo, however, was an exceptionally bad selection. His Test career seemed to finish moments after we clicked ‘publish’.
Dale Steyn: 170 wickets at 23.70 when we picked him. 226 wickets at 21.69 since then.
Mohammad Asif: 70 wickets at 22.22 when we picked him. 36 wickets at 28.52 since then.
Ajantha Mendis: 44 wickets at 29.50 when we picked him. 26 wickets at 43.69 since then.
Ishant Sharma: 54 wickets at 34.42 when we picked him. 133 wickets at 38.47 since then.
Not for the first time, we’ll thank the cricket gods for Dale Steyn. Reading the original article again, we think we knew there was a bit of wishful thinking going on with these selections even at the time. Sad, bad and infuriating.
A mixed bag, but it strikes us that these results would make more sense when set alongside those who really did perform best over this five-year period. So let’s do that. Meet you back here tomorrow.23 Appeals
There’s definitely an opening for an opportunistic side to play a negative, attritional brand of cricket during this World Cup. That approach is so rare, the opposition won’t know what has limply and boringly hit them.
More about this in the form of a satirical news report over at Cricinfo.8 Appeals
Say what you like about Steve Harmison’s overall record, but he could lollop in and hit you on the elbow with the best of them. That uncanny ability to make the ball bounce considerably more than should have been physically possible brought him a bunch of wickets and England a bunch of wins, but far more importantly, it brought hope.
Fast bowlers are few and far between. English ones are rarer still. For a time, Steve Harmison was just such a thing and it was wondrous. Context is everything and that’s one of the main reasons why we named him our latest King of Cricket over at All Out Cricket. You can read all about him by clicking these words.12 Appeals
There’s going to be relatively little news coverage on here next week. And by ‘relatively little’ we actually mean none. We’ve decided we need to graze in the outfield for a few days so that we can come back and hit the deck hard come the World Cup.
Clearly you’re worried about this. You’re not sure what to do. You’re not sure how you’ll cope. But it’s okay, the site isn’t going dead. Posts will be published and we’ll check in on the comments every chance we get. There’ll be a few links to articles we’ve written elsewhere recently; there’ll be a review of some predictions we made several years ago; there’ll be a statistical thing inspired by that review; and there’ll be a match report.
Hope you enjoy it all. And stop slagging us off.9 Appeals
We knew this site would become a hub for celebrity gossip one day. We received a surge in traffic yesterday off the back of the fully weird news that someone tried to blackmail the ECB over some sort of relationship Eoin Morgan once had with a human woman.
The landing page of choice for those digging into the story was this one about whether or not Eoin Morgan had a girlfriend. It’s from 2010 and in it we give some excellent and entirely plausible reasons why a woman might like to enter into a relationship with England’s now one-day captain.
If you read the comments, there is a marked change in tone from those left within a couple of days of the post being published and those left later on. See if you can spot it.8 Appeals
That’s a straightforward message for Ricky Ponting and all who would make a similar defence of David Warner’s behaviour. Read it, accept that it is a fact and then go away and think through the issues again, Ricky.
Ponting’s latest column for Cricinfo features the following assumption, stated as fact.
“The Australian public love the way he bats, which goes hand in hand with the sort of confrontational approach he sometimes takes in the field.”
Is that so? Aggressive batting and argumentative fielding go hand in hand, do they? Why must the way a person behaves while fielding have a direct link to the way they bat several hours later (or earlier)?
Batsmen don’t come much more aggressive than Virender Sehwag, but we can’t really recall him charging from slip to square up to an opposition batsman.
Or how about Chris Gayle? Does he lose his rag with the opposition every chance he gets in a bid psych himself up for batting? No, of course not. He can’t be bothered. Truth is, even his ‘aggressive’ batting is characterised by a placid, nonchalant demeanour.
But it’s different for Warner. He plays with a passion unimaginable to Sehwag, Gayle, De Villiers, Jayasuriya or whoever. He’s special, and to ensure he remains special, Warner is obliged to act like an arsehole. His confrontational approach goes hand in hand with his batting, after all.
This is why Warner has to be involved in a road rage incident every time he passes a cyclist while driving; this is why he has to threaten supermarket staff when can’t find his favourite brand of coffee; and this is why he has to kick a plastic cup full of loose change halfway down the street when a tramp has the temerity to laugh at him for tripping on a kerb.34 Appeals
We’re not intending to be a naysayer here, trotting around saying ‘nay’ like a horse that can’t spell (so a horse then). We just want to muddy the unmitigated positivity because one win is not much of a sample from which to draw conclusions.
One of our main concerns centres on England having four of their eggs in the 85mph right-arm seam bowler basket. Today, that was a very, very important basket. On other days, not so much.
There’s a case to be made that 85mph seam bowling days suit England’s batsmen as well as their bowlers. It’s what they’re used to, after all – not least in the nets. But probably of greater importance was the fact that they were chasing just 154. If that’s a regular occurrence in the World Cup, they’ll have a fine old time, but it almost certainly won’t be.
We can’t really criticise England’s actual performance, which was excellent. All we’re really saying is that today presented a very complimentary snapshot and it’ll be more instructive to see what happens when there’s minimal swing and very little bounce. In short, when the 85mph right-arm seam bowler basket becomes less of a weapon and more of a burden.21 Appeals
That is the subtext of any comment from captain or coach after David Warner has behaved like a bit of a prick. “He’s an aggressive player and we don’t want him to lose that edge,” they say.
They say this because they know the truth: picking fights with people as a fielder has a direct impact on Warner’s batting. It’s hard for you to comprehend, because watching on TV you can’t actually see his special superhero belt. But it’s there. It’s real. He wears it underneath his whites; it has a series of lights along it; and they illuminate as he powers up.
Warner gains energy from behaving like a six-year-old, so he needs to ‘get involved’ and showcase his complete inability to see another person’s perspective every chance he gets. Each time he does this, another of his belt lights goes on until he is fully powered-up and ready to bat. At that point, he finally turns his attention to cricket.20 Appeals