Pietersen, Strauss and recent Test innings

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Kevin Pietersen’s out of form. Andrew Strauss has developed a problem against left-arm pace. Those were the stories at the start of yesterday’s play and the evidence came in the form of their recent Test records.

When play did occur, Pietersen looked amazing, but he made the grave error of failing to reach three figures. Never mind that his innings was about ten times as good as Alastair Cook’s second innings hundred at Lord’s, it wasn’t a hundred, so in a few weeks’ time it will be all but forgotten. “He’s only hit one Test hundred since March 2009,” they’ll say, even though that hundred was 227 in an Ashes Test and there was also a 99 in that period.

Andrew Strauss was out to a left-armer again. Never mind that it was one who he faced while scoring a hundred for Middlesex a few weeks ago, this was in a Test – this counted.

There’s truth in that, of course, but his form isn’t really so bad. He was England’s best one-day batsman last summer and played one hell of an innings against India in the World Cup. He didn’t get out to a left-arm pace bowler then, did he?

Oh, wait, he did.


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  1. England are making it difficult for the media – so many of the batsman are in such good form, it’s getting harder to find something to moan about!

    Much as I love Alistair Cook, there was more class in KP’s first 25 runs than in a Cook ton.

  2. Given that there are six or seven batsmen in a Test side, and the normal variation of scores, isn’t it more or less inevitable that at least one will be ‘out of form’ at any given point in time?

    Perhaps some statistician with time on their hands could advise on a suitable threshold for deciding when a player is out of form?

    1. LMCoG was a batsman 3 years in a row. Steyn winning the 2010 award was only the beginning of the KC’s penance.

  3. There are only a few batsman who give you such joy watching them bat – even if they are crushing your own team. Brain Lara was one. Kevin Pietersen falls in the same category. He doesn’t seem to bat with a goal in mind, and enjoys every moment in the crease. There are men who bat like it’s a chore (Cook), men who bat long just because the rest of the team is shit (Shiv), men who are always trying to make a point (Ganguly), men who bat because their team just has to win (Ponting), men who bat because a billion people would be disappointed otherwise (Sachin).

    And then there’s men like Kevin. Cricket needs such players to be in form.

  4. Out of interest, is the inevitable-points-docking pitch at Lords (score currently 87 & 0/1 plays 153 after day 1) what we consider a “good pitch”?

    1. Haven’t seen any of the match, but that might be pushing the definition a tad. Only a tad though.

      This Rose Bowl pitch is bang-on, incidentally.

    2. Little bit of grass, cloudy swing bowling conditions (swingers, not seamers, took sixfers), both teams with much better bowling than batting (yes, I’m afraid that includes Lord High Megachief Key) this match, plus some ill-judged escape shots on both sides, especially Middlesex.

      Pitch inspectors will mumble but (IMHO) not dock points for that.

      But please pity poor folk like me who have booked a day’s leave to watch day three of this match!

  5. Strauss and KP both suffer from confirmation fallacies. It’s as you said – simply analysing the “outs” only tells you nothing about how well they can (and do) play their respective nemesiiii (can you check that plural please). That’s why I’ve been standing outside Sky TV’s offices for weeks now shouting “What do we want – A lack of fallacious statistical reasoning in popular punditry. When do we want it – Quick as you can, please.”

    This website, on the other hand, is the home of accurate statistical analyses. The fightback starts here.

    1. “This website, on the other hand, is the home of accurate statistical analyses. The fightback starts here.”

      No it isn’t. Cricket “statistics” are not real statistics. There are no proper error bars, no t-tests or chi-tests, no distribution analysis, nothing. There are just numbers. And sometimes numbers divided by some other number.

      The difference between this website and commonplace punditry is that when this website uses fallacious statistics, it freely admits that they are fallacious.

      Which is a start.

    2. A recently concluded poll concludes that 73% of people believe most statistics are fallacious.

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