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

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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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  1. I think it was stewart lee who said “Of course you can prove anything with facts. I prefer to rely on instinct and blind prejudice.”

    1. I have had a go for you. These may or may not be correct.

      1 West indies (2004 was their latest score under 100)
      2 Pakistan
      3 Australia
      4 45 NZ v SA 2013 Cape Town
      5 47 Australia v SA 2011 Cape Town
      6 SA v Eng 2006 Jo’Burg, Eng v SA 2007 Leeds
      7 Eng 11 times
      8 WI
      9 First

      Or I could have missed the point completely.

      1. Lowest ever was 26 by NZ v England in 1955. One of the first Tests that I remember. Some guy called Moir had a decent game but I don’t remember him, he prevented Bob Appleyard getting a hat-trick in both innings

      2. I think that the 47 against South Africa was better – at one point they were 21 for 9. At Nottingham they were quite respectable and got to 30 with the loss of only 6 wickets.

        But maybe a third innings collapse isn’t as good as a first morning one.

  2. In the footsteps of Shane Warne, I think Stuart Broad should be said “to blonde” the opposition, whereas Samit Patel, following the lineage of Ranatunga and Inzy, should be said “to crush” them.

    1. Actually a good and entirely non-statistical test for the quality of a, player is whether you can be “named” by someone.

      You know when you’ve been warned.

      You know when you’ve been muralied.

      You know when you’ve been afridied.

      You know when you’ve been larad.

      Nobody ever gets suched and ilotted.

      England definitely know when they have been amlad. Or hashimed, which sounds a bit better.

      1. Broaded – tick.
        Andersoned – tick.
        Rooted – tick.
        Cooked – big tick.
        Stokesed? Nah. Stoked? A tentative tick.
        Lythed – nah.
        Halesed – nah.
        Robsoned – conclusive proof that Sam should be Cook’s next opening partner.

  3. Lovely use of “trump” and “prize bell end” in the same sentence.

    As far as facts go, your phone-in man wasn’t so wrong. A man killed because he was hit by a bus while crossing the road and texting and wearing a jacket full of knives and nitro-glycerine was actually killed because Hashim Amla scored a hundred that day. The facts are clear – Hashim Amla scored a hundred, and that man was killed. That’s all you need to know. You can indeed prove anything with facts, as long as you are good at choosing which facts to ignore.

    In this case, Amla’s hundreds and Saffers wins, you skilfully concentrated on cricket statistics to “prove” your point. I assume you are aware (but chose not to mention) that it is SA policy to present all the players with a transformer if they win, and that the quality of transformer depends on the highest number of runs scored by a player multiplied by his beard length in cubits (to the nearest cubit). 100 or more gets them a Starscream, 50 to 100 a Bumblebee. Less than 50 and it’s a Rollbar. No wonder they try harder when Amla’s scored a ton.

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