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Which cricketers possess X-factor? A comprehensive guide

How do you measure X-factor? Does it come in units or is it a subtance. Does Glenn Maxwell give you one X-factor or does he provide you with a few centilitres of X-factor that you can pool along with whatever can be provided by Mitchell Johnson, David Warner and Xavier Doherty?

Either way, the team with the most X-factor will win this World Cup. From what we’ve read, there will be a direct correlation between it and results – that much is clear.

But which players possess X-factor? Our feeling has always been that you either have it or you don’t, but today Cricinfo are asserting that Luke Ronchi is evolving into New Zealand’s X-factor which suggests that you can gradually attain more and more of this quality.

A friend of ours used to work in a nursery. She was forever losing her rag with three-year-olds pretending to be Pokémon (Pokémons? What’s the plural?). They’d squat down, do some sort of weird vibrating mime and say: “I’m evolving!”

“No, you’re not,” she’d spit. “You’re metamorphosising!” Then she would start talking to them about genes and natural selection.

So perhaps Luke Ronchi is evolving in the Pokémon sense and will emerge as a fully-formed X-factor player at some point soon. Or maybe it really is a gradual process and one of his hollow limbs is slowly filling with more and more X-factor fluid.

Whichever it is, we can state only one thing with confidence: very few of our World Cup cricketers to watch are X-factor players.

England appear to be playing and beating Pakistan

We’re struggling with the build-up to the World Cup. We fundamentally believe that a World Cup is a big deal, but at the same time we’re aware of the need to ration our enthusiasm. It might be another month before one of the major teams has to play a match where there’s something riding on it, after all.

So warm-up matches featuring more than 11 players per side? It’s hard to pay too much attention, but yet the World Cup starts this weekend and this is actual cricket involving the main protagonists. Perhaps the best thing to do for now is to write that we don’t really know what to make of this particular game and hope that we find something to latch onto in time for tomorrow’s post. Maybe we can cover Michael Clarke’s race for fitness, same as everybloodybody else.

New Zealand thrashed South Africa as well today. That seems newsworthy, even if the Saffers were Steyn-free. Hopefully we won’t be looking back on this match as being one of the great upsets of this World Cup in a couple of months’ time.

Mop-up of the day – warm-ups, schmarm ups

Australia obliterated India, England battered the Windies and all for nought. World Cup pressure is not yet here and in fact probably won’t be here until the 18th of March when the quarter finals finally get underway.

Even so, these were striking results. England dismissed the Windies for 122 and then lost only one wicket in chasing that down. Australia made 371 with that wonderfully ludicrous man, Glenn Maxwell, making 122 off 57 balls.

Mohammad Hafeez is out of the World Cup

Told you he was worth watching. His departure gave rise to a great swathe of articles which can best be summed up as:

“Pakistan might replace Mohammad Hafeez with Saeed Ajmal now that the latter has been cleared to bowl again. Oh no, wait, they’ve replaced him with Nasir Jamshed. Well let’s do the Ajmal article anyway because it’s still possible that he might feature in the World Cup if someone else gets injured.”

This is poor journalism. The correct story to publish would of course be one entitled: “Pakistan’s toast is dry and the larder is empty. To the jam shed!

Steve Harmison is the new manager of Ashington FC

Weird, but good luck to him.

Ashington play in the Northern League Division One. To put that into universally-understandable terms, that’s two leagues below Witton Albion.

How the value of a six relates to apple consumption

Our latest Cricinfo piece has been a huge hit. Here’s what the critics are saying about it.

“Assume someone eats 10 apples per day and wants to reduce the number of apples he eats per day. He decides to counts two apples as one(or one as half) and claims that he has reduced the amount of apples he eats by half. This is total nonsense.”

To have half an idea what the bloody hell he’s on about, start by reading the article.

KP: The Autobiography – book review

A guest review of KP: The Autobiography by Dandy Dan.

Having met KP and most of team, I feel I’m very qualified to review this book – especially as he came across to me as actually being all right. I didn’t buy it. I got it out from the library. I didn’t even pay the 50p charge (or however much it is these days) as I know the librarian. It’s not what you know…

It’s a bit boring really. The problem isn’t really all the sections released in the media when it came out. It’s that he’s never really been shy in saying how he feels throughout his career so we all know the stories anyway. The only thing that came to a real surprise to me was his dislike for Flower. Flower gets a pasting throughout the book, even during the successful times. Now I had come to the conclusion at the end of the last Ashes series that Flower must be to blame for the whole debacle, so taking this one sided view of things I feel smugly content in being right.

Essentially, each chapter follows the same path with a different tour/story thrown in.

In bullet point format:

  • Yes, I’ve made mistakes, I realise that now (But he doesn’t realise he’s still making them).
  • The IPL is great, not enough people in England realise this.
  • The ECB is made up of incompetent buffoons (This was a particularly startling revelation).
  • I had an injury and wasn’t playing well.
  • I played well.

The most interesting part of it to me (well one which wasn’t covered by the media that I could tell) was his apparent dislike of authoritarian coaches, yet the fondness he holds for his strict childhood experiences. Flower (and to a lesser extent Moores) get a slagging for being too controlling, yet he reminisces about his time at school where the juniors had to say please at the end of every sentence they spoke to a senior. Apparently this taught him that respect has to be earnt. I’m not sure I understood the idea of earning someone’s respect just because they were older than you. He obviously has a lot of respect for his father who he says showed him little emotion, but then criticises Flower for not putting an arm around him. If there’s a source to the idea that KP just wants to be loved there it is. Pop psychology over.

The whole Matt Prior/Big Cheese stuff starts off quite funny, gets a bit tiresome, then goes back to being funny again. It’s particularly amusing when he takes the piss out of him for thinking he’s in Team Sky. Swann doesn’t get laid into as much as I thought he would for leaving the tour early.

He does make a good case for the IPL and reading his book has changed my mind about it a bit regarding its importance and the engagement the ECB should have with it. I’m still not interested in actually watching it though.

Following this revelation that the newspapers didn’t actually republish every last word of KP’s book, you might like to buy it. If so, you can get it from Amazon here.

Aggression, aggressive batting and viral-induced half-arsedness

We appear to have been struck down by lack-of-altitude sickness or summat, so here’s a perfunctory ticking-the-boxes, phoning-it-in update linking to something we wrote for someone else.

Aggression and aggressive batting – we covered it here on King Cricket fairly comprehensively, but yet still felt moved to write something for Cricinfo. This is that thing.

If you really want to entertain yourselves, why not try adding some Cricinfo-style missing-the-point comments below because the ones on that article are disappointingly sensible. The best effort will earn a weary ‘heh’ from us. It’ll seem sarcastic, but it isn’t. It’s just tired and lifeless.

The other 10 World Cup cricketers to watch

We could do the same Kohli, de Villiers, Johnson list as everyone else or we could pick out 10 players who you’ll actually have to make some effort to watch.

So, in no particular order…

Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan

40 years old and ostensibly a plodder, Misbah recently matched Viv Richards’ record for fastest Test hundred. He was also an unusually accomplished finisher back in the 2007 T20 World Cup. Averages 42.99 in one-day internationals (ODIs) without even once having made a hundred. Being as he’s from Pakistan, we fully expect him to win the World Cup by scoring five on the bounce.

James Tredwell, England

Will he play? Probably not, but here’s why he should.

Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan

At present, he isn’t allowed to bowl, but he’s due to have his action tested later this week. If he passes, brace yourself for some Tredders-style inexplicably economical bowling. If he fails, maybe his batting will improve beyond measure for no clear reason.

Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka

Most of the best spinners are banned or pseudo-banned and finger spin has traditionally always been a brand of cannon fodder Down Under, so let’s pick three conventional spin bowlers in a row. Herath is mint. That’s all there is to it.

Shakib-al-Hasan, Bangladesh

More finger spin, but a bit of batting as well. Shakib’s been site pet for almost a decade now so we couldn’t leave him out. He’s currently ranked the 34th best one-day batsman in the world and the sixth best bowler, but strangely, most cricket fans still don’t really know who he is. Here’s hoping he puts everyone straight over the next few weeks.

Quinton de Kock, South Africa

Have you seen this picture? Why is his head so tiny? South Africa have a fairly classy, adaptable batting line-up, but de Kock is the one-note drone that kicks things off. He throws the bat in somewhat guileless but effective fashion. There’s definitely a place for that.

Daniel Vettori, New Zealand

Still playing cricket even though he moves like an 80-year-old whose bones are made of lead. Vettori has had a weird twilight to his career inhabiting some sort of semi-injured limbo. But he’s back. In five matches this year, he’s taken one wicket and that was Shahid Afridi holing out. It therefore makes perfect sense to include yet another conventional spinner who probably won’t have an enormous impact.

Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan

Included together because they’re similar players – effective middle to lower order batsmen who also bowl effective, reasonably economical spin. Nabi bowls off breaks and is therefore perfectly at home in this article. Shenwari bowls legspin and possesses a face which says ‘I can handle myself. Try me, I jeffing dare you.’ Only it doesn’t say it in English, it says it in Pashto.

Glenn Maxwell, Australia

A bit obvious, but come on – you’ve got to watch. People think he’s exciting because he scores hundreds off eight or nine balls, but his real selling point is his glorious unpredictability. He’ll try and reverse cut a bouncer for a single. He’ll turn backwards and try and play a ramp-style slap back over the bowler’s head. He’ll run down the pitch and leave a ball which then hits the stumps.

In conclusion

If you enjoy the boring middle overs of watchful consolidation/keeping it relatively tight, then THESE ARE THE PLAYERS FOR YOU (plus a couple of others).

Cricinfo, Nick Knight and Bishan Bedi

We come back from a week away and it’s all kicking off. Cricinfo’s changed so that you can’t tell what’s going on in the world; Nick Knight’s photographing Victoria’s Secret models (“Should be an innovative, eye-catching shot suitable for an ultra-glossy magazine cover… Is an innovative, eye-catching shot suitable for an ultra-glossy magazine cover.”); and Bishan Bedi’s tweeting links to your articles.

Old Bish-Bed was drawing attention to our latest Kings of Cricket piece in which we make a somewhat futile attempt to put Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements into some sort of perspective. Have a read while we go through our emails and just generally try and catch up on everything.

Jungfraujoch match report

Bert writes:

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.

Good high arm

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.

Good high left elbow

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.

The most successful cricketers over the last five years

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.

To Statsguru!


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.

  1. Kumar Sangakkara – 65.87
  2. Hashim Amla – 64.13
  3. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – 62.72
  4. AB de Villiers – 62.27
  5. 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.

  1. AB de Villiers – 60.77
  2. BJ Watling – 44.00
  3. Mushfiqur Rahim – 39.82
  4. Matt Prior – 38.51
  5. 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.

  1. Jacques Kallis – 57.92 and 44.52
  2. Shakib al Hasan – 43.19 and 33.10
  3. Mohammad Hafeez – 39.26 and 30.66
  4. Shane Watson – 37.93 and 32.05
  5. R Ashwin – 35.96 and 30.67
  6. 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.

  1. Dale Steyn – 21.69
  2. Vernon Philander – 21.95
  3. Ryan Harris – 23.52
  4. James Anderson – 26.71
  5. 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.

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