The barometer says England never looked like winning

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< 1 minute read

Talk of an England win has been unjustifiably common during this Test. You never know what’s likely to happen in a match, but you can tailor conversation according to likelihood and at no point has an England victory seemed probable. Even talking about how they could possibly engineer a winning situation from the difficult positions they’ve found themselves in has been to remain wilfully blind to reality. A draw was appearing a fairly lofty aim from quite early on.

We’re fond of saying that averages only tell you what has already happened and that certainly applies here. Brendon McCullum only averages 30-odd with the bat, but he’s made England miserable all series without reaching three figures. Peter Fulton’s average has only reached the thirties thanks to a hundred in each innings of this match, but that kind of a contribution is a great deal more meaningful in terms of the series than what Ian Bell did against Pakistan in 2006.

We’re increasingly feeling like Ian Bell is a kind of barometer of form for England. We often talk about a team winning when one particular player performs well, but when Ian Bell plays badly, England are terrible. Or is it the other way round? It’s almost as if he responds to the pervading air of underachievement and thinks: “Right, time for eight off 89 balls.”

Bell’s still in, of course, but his obduracy seems less like resilience and more like the foreshadowing of a collapse – a contributory factor, even, if it brings unwarranted nervousness to the young batsmen who follow him.

Good luck to Bell and good luck to England, because they’ll need it. Whatever their averages, New Zealand’s bowlers have threatened England’s batsmen almost all series.


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  1. This might be one of those times when averages come to your aid KC. According to Statsguru, Ian Ronald Bell MBE averages an impressive 62.34 when England win and a lowly 28.50 when they lose.

    The interesting question is in which direction, if any, the causality lies. So are Bell’s runs instrumental to an England victory, or does he coast on the general success of the rest of the team? Or a bit of both/neither…?

    1. I’d imagine most players average more in victories than defeats don’t the? Can’t be arsed to do the analysis. They probably tend to average even more in draws.

    2. You’re right, TheSmudge.

      Statsguru says:

      wins: 1365 matches – 672743 runs at 36.89
      losses: 1365 matches – 562143 runs at 20.77
      draws: 717 matches – 691356 runs @ 37.41

      So if History were a batsman, History would average 77% more in victories than in defeats, whereas Bell averages 118% more.

      I’m horribly bored…

    3. For a moment I was surprised that History had won exactly as many games as he lost. Then my brain started working again.

  2. Christ. Even Australia don’t lose to New Zealand. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic.

    Odds on Andy Flower quitting?

    1. To get 1-1 requires a loss pretty much by definition.

      I’m guessing you meant series losses? But we (NZ) would actually have to start playing more series (2 games don’t count) to judge that. Likely outcome series loss after series loss, but that’s not the point.

  3. Straight off the back of a series win in India (that’s a series win in India, who ever gets them who isn’t India?) we fail to win / lose a series in NZ. It’s as if cricket is some sort of sporting contest between tremendously talented people who can occasionally perform differently to what is expected.

    Still, it is depressing. If only there were a way of cheering myself up within a purely international cricketing context. If only some international cricket result had recently occurred that would make me feel utterly, utterly delighted and beside myself with hilarity at the way in which it panned out had in fact just recently this week happened. Perhaps someone here knows of such an event? I am relying on you good people for solace.

    1. Bert, I assume you are referring to Warwickshire’s utter domination of the MCC XI in Abu Dhabi.

      Surely we can find William Porterfield an English grandmother…

    2. It’s a mark of how jaded and cynical I have become that I automatically read that as sarcasm.

      Unless it actually was sarcasm. In which case – brilliant.

    3. I’m only interested in that game because future England keeper Ned Eckersley is playing. I assume he got time off from working down t’mine.

    4. He will surely be making an appearance in the Cricinfo Twitter round-up with gems like this:

      @nedeckersley: Someone should invent an electric shopping trolley. Like the electric golf trolleys…helpful and entertaining for a pretty boring activity”

    5. Genuine enthusiasm. Was going to come back with observations from the game, but got lost in reading up on Ateeq Javid.
      Now I’ve returned to have you hold a mirror up to my massive sadness

  4. Generally, barometers don’t crumble under pressure. He’s more England’s canary.

    1. Rectal thermometers. Another class of objects that don’t crumble under pressure.

    2. What about rectal barometers?

      “Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”, as the great man said.

  5. In some ways I find it refreshing that England are treating this monumentally pointless series as just that.

    Watching them in press conferences attempting to appear bothered that they have capitulated to NZ is sort of like watching Chris Gayle pretend to care about Test Cricket or Ian Bell trying to look macho in the 2009 Ashes, or Shane Warne pretend he hasn’t had massive plastic surgery. Bloody unconvincing.

    1. related to this, was pleased to have One-Eye Warne on commentary for the last Australia test. After umpring the 06/7 Ashes series from his end, and appointing himself an England selector during the 09 Ashes, it was sweet hearing him talk away Warner’s petty sledging, and talking up Maxi as a player.

  6. The problem with English cricket fans is presumption. You either expect the best or expect the worst from your team. Why don’t you just expect nothing and let the cricket take it’s course? Take refuge in the glorious uncertainties of the game, instead of calling for the head of anyone who has even a remote resemblance to Ian Bell. Let’s face it — there is no team in world cricket right now who can actually be a long-term no. 1. I’m not too convinced about SA either. Expect them to be literally dusted out next time they travel to the subcontinent.

    1. Please don’t try to bring common sense into it, Deets.

      Not around here.

      It’s simply not becoming.

  7. It’s not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand

    1. Daisy didn’t doubt for one moment that the match would be a draw, I distinctly remember her stating “what a dead pitch, this match will be a draw” the morning after the first day.

      Daisy stated a few other “certainties” during and after days 2 to 4 as well – I cannot quite recall what those statements were and nor can she…

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