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.8 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.22 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
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 know that you’re all looking forward to hearing the official World Cup song, even if it’s inevitable that it will fall some way short of this masterpiece.
We’ve looked back on some of the other great official cricket songs from down the years for All Out Cricket.
They include The Ashes Song from 1971. These lyrics must have taken them months.
When we arrived people said
The Aussies would leave us for dead
But we knew we would prove them wrong
And that’s why we’re singing this song
Oh! The feeling is great
For losing is something we hate
You can read more about this and other classics here.6 Appeals
The answer is because Pakistan aren’t playing. Also, he retired seven years ago.
Fortunately, our Kings of Cricket feature over at All Out Cricket helps us overcome these minor hurdles as we’re allowed to write about pretty much anyone we like. Last week, we chose Inzy for his ‘souplesse’ as well as for his majestic ability to run out either himself or his batting partner, seemingly from nowhere.
What a man! What a shot! What panache! What a shambolic end to a promising innings!14 Appeals
For international captaincy, we’d also add another piece of advice to that article: Do exactly what Shane Warne says (but be innovative).
Doing what Warne says just makes life easier for everyone. Get some sort of headset and when he’s commentating, obey his every word.
Most of what he says won’t work of course, because it’ll be ridiculous. The thing is, if you take different decisions, he’ll spend at least an hour on commentary and several newspaper columns talking about how his ideas definitely would have worked, safe in the knowledge that this can never be proven, so don’t give him a chance to do this.
Be ‘funky’ as well. Don’t persevere with logical tactics, giving them a chance to pay off. Most commentators hate that because it gives them nothing to talk about. They like changes and they like coming up with ingenious (and completely incorrect) explanations as to why you might have opted for an 8-1 legside field.
So put a fielder somewhere stupid – it doesn’t really matter where. This will give them something to talk about and they’ll love you for it. Plus do all that other stuff we’ve listed over at All Out Cricket.4 Appeals
Plenty going on in the various Boxing Day Tests, but we can’t be arsed writing a single word about any of them. We’re far too busy actually enjoying them, if we’re honest. Something would have to make way to give us time to write and these liquids and solids won’t consume themselves, so this is all you’re getting.
We did do something festive though – this piece about some dude born on Christmas Day whose actions appear to have indirectly led to all sorts of bitter conflict. Cookianity – it’ll never catch on.27 Appeals
Today we’re going to direct you towards two pieces of ours which appeared outside the kingdom.
First up, our latest King of Cricket is Murali. Don’t worry, it ain’t all numbers. It’s about the joints, the graft and the batting really.
Secondly, last week’s Cricinfo piece, entitled English cricket rocked by non-Cook related incident. As an added bonus, that one contains a little bit of Nick Knight.
Almost inevitably, Cook is in the news again today. Paul Downton has given another interview, which basically means Cook’s relationship with the public has dropped another few notches through no fault of his own.
Downtown has an incredible knack for alienating people. When he speaks, what you’re left with is a strong sense that someone has wagged their finger at you and told you they know best.
Apparently he sits in on selection meetings these days. He says he is happy with the selectors he employs (his words) and happy with the decision to continue with Cook as captain, but that the selectors will meet to discuss everything on Friday. Presumably they won’t be jumping at the chance to make their boss unhappy.
Asked about Cook’s form, Downton said: “Yes, he’s in miserable form. But form can change. I’d suggest he’s ‘due’ – wouldn’t you?”
We’ve covered this before, haven’t we?
Another highlight is: “He’s the natural leader of that group of players.”
A natural leader in the sense of being a great orator? A natural leader based on the fact he’s getting great results? What is a natural leader? Is that how leaders are identified; by their nature? Do the ECB do a DNA test? What chromosomes are they looking for?
The ECB really are beyond parody now.
Downton finished by saying: “I want to enfranchise everybody and I want them to be part of what’s happening in English cricket.”
Remember kids, if you’ve been enfranchised by a stockbroker, you should inform a parent, teacher or policeman immediately. It’s not your fault.13 Appeals
His daughter’s called Kemaria.
It’s okay to laugh because she didn’t choose the name herself.
This and more in our latest Twitter round-up over at Cricinfo.24 Appeals