Monday, November 12, 2007

Cricket averages: a rebuttal

Andrew Mosey has written a response into my own analysis into the validity of cricketing statistics. In an overview of Michael Atherton’s test career, I argued that his average of just under 40 didn’t adequately reflect his likely performance on the day.

I rather regretted this conclusion, as Athers was one of my all time favourites, and mused on the possibly devastating effects this method would have on an Australian invincible of old. Indeed, Andrew rose to the challenge and analysed the test career of Don Bradman.

Annoyingly, Sir Don didn’t look as useless as I hoped. His median score was 167. This is, unfortunately, still pretty good. Most interestingly, the standard deviation is 87, which we could argue seriously damages the validity of his research. Especially when we compare it to the former England captain’s standard deviation of 37.

However, there is a more mature criticism we can offer. When looking at Athers’ glorious years I was surprised at his success to failure ratio. Indeed, I found that three quarter’s of his innings resulted in what we would term “a failure”.

Similarly, Andrew found:

“Looking at the number of 50+ scores achieved by the Don, you'll find this occurred in 42 of his 80 innings; an incredible 52.5% of times he walked out to bat he was soon raising it to the crowd.”

OK – this record is better than our Michael's. Obviously, Atherton was a superior to Bradman in many ways, and these petty statistics only detract from that fact.

However, what they do show up is the astonishingly high number of batting failures. If, say, I cocked up five times out of ten at work (you know, I spilled the tea whilst on my way to brown-nose my boss) my office test career would be of Zimbabwean proportions. And yet, this half-present batsman is considered the greatest player of all time.

If Pete Sampras lost half his matches we would assume he was English. If every other Shakespearean play was shit we would assume the Bard was American.

Yet these are the appalling standards that international cricketers expect us to accept. Why are their standards so shoddy? Why do we tolerate these failures without question?

Frankly, I have had enough of it. No more excuses you lot. Pull your socks up.

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