We spend about 40 per cent of our waking hours trying to work out which attributes we’d include were we to develop a stats-based cricket management computer game. For batsmen, there’d be things like patience and shot selection; for bowlers, there’d be fitness and accuracy. We’d also include ‘unarsedness’.
The key passage of play today was the partnership between Gary Ballance and Chris Jordan. One’s a debutant, the other’s a two-Test veteran and yet both seemed entirely unarsed by England’s eye-rollworthy position.
It wasn’t that the home team were throwing it away. They were just making a very poor fist of things. In fact it wasn’t even a fist. It was more like a limp claw. They seemed to be making a very concerted effort to entirely undo the few repairs they’d made during the first innings, during which the middle order had managed to emit a faint whiff of solidity.
Imagine Gary Ballance had scored 4 instead of 104 and that Chris Jordan had made 5 instead of 35 and now look at the scorecard again. That would have been a fairly normal outcome by recent standards and we probably wouldn’t have judged that pair too harshly either. The cricket watching public would have pointed their vast collective finger at Cook and Bell instead.
Ballance in particular has brought us back to a world where it’s not so ludicrous to assume that at least one of the batsmen might make a few runs in any given innings. He achieved this, at least in part, through having a very high unarsedness rating.