Will Liam Dawson play for England at the World Twenty20?

He’s in the squad. The squad’s not that big. He probably will.

Australia may well be going down the same route, but it still seems weird to us to select players for a World Cup when you’ve never selected them before. We were so taken aback by Liam Dawson’s inclusion that we at first thought England had selected Richard Dawson, a spinner who played a bunch of Tests in India in 2001. Dicky Dawson finished his career with a first-class bowling average of 44.07.

Trevor Bayliss has never seen Liam Dawson play. But that’s not too surprising. Bayliss hasn’t really seen anyone English play. He is therefore reliant on ‘the system’ and Dawson did well playing for the Lions recently.

Bayliss also said: “He’s a good fielder apparently.”

You get the impression that left to his own devices Bayliss would select England’s 11 best fielders and just cross his fingers that a handful of them could bat and bowl. Not that he’s in favour of finger-crossing. It hampers your fielding.

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Hashim Amla in ODIs – a brief but unwelcome detour into stats

The human brain isn’t wired for statistics. In fact it isn’t wired at all. Perhaps that’s the problem. Maybe in the distant future when we’re all mechanically enhanced cyberfolk we’ll be able to make logical decisions based on data rather than being influenced by our demented emotional responses to stories we hear about individuals.

In general, one story about a single representative of some group or other acting like a prize bell-end will easily trump a statistic indicating that 99 per cent of said group aren’t bell-ends. However, an interesting aspect of cricket is that statistics are so plentiful and easy to come by that you can have your demented emotional opinion first and then source your stats to fit. It’s a win-win situation – albeit a win where you’re doubly wrong.

“You can prove anything with facts”

So said our favourite ever phone-in contributor. This person was wholly unimpressed with another caller’s entirely logical stats-based argument and delivered the line in a dismissive tone which made it abundantly clear that only a fool would pay heed to ‘proof’.

It’s the way to be. We’re not sure if it’s age or what, but we’re increasingly prone to sourcing facts to either confirm or rebut our half-formed opinions. Time was we used to just write something that seemed like it might possibly be true and then make a passing reference to a Transformer to distract people. Now we for some reason feel obliged to ‘look into things’.

When it comes to cricket, ‘looking into things’ is time-consuming, boring and ultimately pointless.

The Hashim Amla bit

Earlier today we had a vague sense that when Hashim Amla scores a lot of runs in a one-day international, South Africa more often than not win. We should have just written that and then had some fun. Instead, like a man trapped on an alien planet who’s lost all perspective about what’s important and what’s not, we actually went and checked. Before today, they’d won 19 of the 21 matches in which he’d made a hundred.

Really, that should have been enough for us and the dicking about with statistics should have ended there. Nothing we found would have been of any real consequence with regards to what may happen in the future, so there was literally no point investigating further.

But our old, decrepit, wanting-to-check-things brain pointed out that of course South Africa generally won when one of their top order batsmen made a hundred. That wasn’t really the point. It wanted to know whether Hashim Amla tended to make runs when South Africa won, which is something subtly different.

So here’s another stat. When South Africa win, Hashim Amla averages 68.54.

Our brain’s not entirely happy with this either. It wants us to dig deeper; to slice and dice the numbers more. But you have to draw the line somewhere and we’re already way past the correct place to do so. The correct place to draw the line would of course have been ‘at the outset before looking up any statistics whatsoever’.

So just give it a rest, brain. Life’s too short.

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Better wicketkeeping is one of the components rattling around in Australia’s World Cup bag o’ bits

Australia have gone a bit England with their T20 World Cup preparations. Their long-term planning has climaxed with a 15-man squad where a third of the players haven’t even played a T20 international.

Impressive stuff. They’re clearly of a mind that having the right components is of more importance than testing whether they actually fit together. They’ve got a polythene bag full of bits, a blueprint in biro and a positive mental attitude. Perhaps that’ll be enough.

One of the most interesting selections is in the wicketkeeping department. We don’t really know all that much about the incoming Peter Nevill, but from what we’ve seen of the outgoing Matthew Wade, he’s a man who’s heard the Smiths’ Hand In Glove but much prefers plain old cymbals.

Australia’s chief selector, Rod Marsh, backed up that view by saying: “We feel our batting depth in this squad is sufficient enough that we can have a specialist wicket-keeper in the squad.”

This reminds us of our thoughts from long, long ago that Twenty20 might prove to be a format that brings wicketkeeping skills back to the fore.

 

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England ODI team triggers outlandish pronouncement

We once overheard one man say to another man: “I gave you the money and you ate the money.”

True story.

The background is that we were in a restaurant in Goa on Christmas Day. It was early evening and the proprietor was already absolutely shit-faced. A customer was buying a crate of beer off him to take away and when he handed over the cash, the sozzled restaurateur placed the rupee notes into his mouth. He then ate them.

A few moments later, having apparently forgotten that he had done this, he once again asked for payment. This elicited the immortal line above.

This is very high on our list of the most unlikely things we’ve ever heard a person say. However, a new addition to that list came earlier today when some dark, rarely-used part of our brain persuaded our mouth to utter the words: “England are actually quite good at one-day cricket.”

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Analysis of ICC’s decision to review 2014 restructuring

clarke-1

The ICC has realised that the ‘Big Three’ changes pushed through in 2014 were…

(a) taking the piss a bit; and

(b) liable to lead to the complete implosion of the sport in the long-term

They have therefore resolved to do something different instead; something a bit less shit.

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