Cricket has generally got more time for stats than for its own personal hygiene, yet those for Twenty20 are surprisingly useless.
A good batting average can be counterproductive if not allied to a decent strike-rate. A decent bowling economy rate can be misleading if it’s just the result of that player’s batting colleagues failing to ever set a challenging score. Wickets aren’t quite so important in a format where teams are rarely bowled out.
Yet we need something
We flatly refuse to watch much of the Friends Provident T20 because there are 10 billion matches and because half of them are overshadowed by Tests. Statistics are our fall-back.
We have concluded that the number of runs a player has scored is a half-decent measure of their worth (even if it does favour top-order batsmen).
Adam Voges has so far scored most runs in this season’s Twenty20 Cup. We don’t care about him because he’s Australian and also because he pronounces his name ‘Vo-jizz,’ which is clearly wrong.
The second highest scorer is Phil Mustard, so we can state with some certainty that in terms of Twenty20 cricket this year, Phil Mustard is the best-performing beef-eating, gout-suffering, Durham wicketkeeper-batsman named as one to watch in 2011 on this website.
No, wait, we’re wrong. We said you should watch him last year. Also, we forgot that this year’s ones to watch related only to performances in the top division of the County Championship. We probably can’t blame statistics for those errors, but might do so anyway.
So much of what’s wrong with English cricket can be seen in the never-ending debate about wicketkeepers. First-class cricket’s too weak to show who’s best and because there are so many counties and therefore so many candidates, no player gets much of a run.
We are no better informed than anyone else about all of this, which is precisely our point – it’s nigh-on impossible to be well-informed with the information we have to go on. Nevertheless, one wicketkeeper we liked when he appeared in one-day matches for England was Phil Mustard.
Phil Mustard was the second-highest scorer in the Pro40 last year and it’s all 40-over stuff in 2010. Phil Mustard doesn’t know he’s supposed to be playing as an attacking opener in these matches; it’s just what he does. That’s what we like about him. Plus, wicketkeepers HAVE to open the batting in one-day matches.
Although we made Steven Davies one to watch at the start of last summer, we had it in mind that we’d be watching him for a bit longer before he appeared in international matches.
Andy Flower said this week that if Davies plays in the one-day matches, he’ll open the batting, while Matt Prior will bat in the lower middle order if he plays. You feel like England will go for Davies, because wicketkeepers who open the batting in one-day internationals send England into unseemly paroxysms of orgasmic delight which are as embarrassing as hearing Henry Blofeld calling someone a ‘dude’.
Wicketkeepers open the batting in one-dayers. That’s the way it is as far as England are concerned. All of which makes it rather bizarre that Phil Mustard was so summarily abandoned.
Here was a wicketkeeper-batsman who kept wicket well and had the right approach to opening the batting in Twenty20 matches and one-dayers.
He mightn’t have made any big scores, but he’s fundamentally right for the job. He has a lash at the ball without giving the matter a great deal of thought. That is generally what you want from a one-day opener these days.
You don’t want a batsman thinking: ‘My job is to have a lash at every ball.’ You want a batsman who just does it. That’s Phil Mustard and just about nobody else who’s English.
So Phil Mustard’s dropping the balls into the bowling machine and Kevin Pietersen’s driving the ball. Pietersen gets hold of one and Mustard takes it in the face.
Anyone who’s so much as held a cricket ball in their hand will be wincing ever-so-slightly at that. Mustard’s had to go to hospital with a broken nose.
We’re no doctor, but it looks rather like Phil Mustard might have had a similar experience before. That’s wicketkeeping though. It might look fun to dive around all day, but bats in the face and balls in the balls are an occupational hazard standing up to the stumps.
It’s often said that Philip Mustard is a headline writer’s dream. He’s a nicknamer’s dream as well. The Durham players call him ‘The Colonel’ for obvious reasons.
With so many options at our disposal however, it would be lazy of us to use someone else’s creation. That’s why, after an hour of thinking, we’ve come up with a masterpiece. A nickname of such sophistication that you’ll all wish you’d thought of it first.
Mustardo has been catching the eye a bit this season. England are always on the lookout for a wicketkeeper who can bat and particularly one who can open the batting in one-day internationals.
So far this season, Mustardo’s hit a hundred and three fifties in the Friends Provident Trophy, averaging 43.5 and a further three fifties in the Pro40 league where he’s averaging 55.6. He’s scored these runs at a ferocious rate, which has what’s caught the eye the most.
Mustardo made his biggest mark in the final of the Friends Provident Trophy a week ago, hitting 49 off 38 balls and he’s keeping himself in the public eye (ooh, mustard in the eye) following a rambunctious 78 off only 40 balls against Leicestershire yesterday.