Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The “Let’s Not Go Too Mad” Theory of English results

I have always suspected that there is an intrinsic karma in English cricket. In test series where they are seemingly swept away, they come from nowhere to produce an ODI win. Similarly, any test series victories are punished by one-dayer drubbings.

There has been recent discussion regarding England apparent (ahem) edge over the South Africans in ODIs, but this trend only developed after the Saffer dispatched the Englanders at home in a test series.

It’s almost as if other boards have a reciprocal arrangement with the ECB, to make sure that the aggregate total of woe and misery in the British Isles never deepens below a specified nadir.

Consider the 2006-07 Ashes series (for those that acknowledge its existence). England were battered in the tests; yet triumphed in the one dayers. In fact, this appears to be a dynamic well-maintained in most Ashes campaigns.

So, I totted up all England’s results and put them into a spreadsheet, covering a period from 2000 until 29 November 2009. For this period, I have calculated their cumulative score. Each victory is given a +1, each draw/tie/abandoned match a 0 and 1 is subtracted when England lose. Here are the results:

Interestingly, the new decade starts brightly, with England soaring to a score of +6, but these heights are rapidly surrendered as they fall to -6 within six months. After a spell of soul-searching, Michael Vaughan’s captaincy finds a winning formula, and the 2004-05 period sees England’s total shoot to +19.

However, this high-water mark slips quickly below the surface, as their scores slides into negative figures.

Thereafter, they manage only to keep their heads above the water, with the score just into the positive. As of today, their score is exactly 0.

What does this signify? That England are unable to ruthlessly exploit advantage? That they are unable to push on? Are we most comfortable at give-and-take mediocrity?

Certainly, starting the decade at zero, and still sitting on a duck as the naughties come to a close is an unlikely statistic. Even given the bounties offered by Bangladesh, the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

This period encapsulates entire careers, and witnesses a number of cricketing generations. Yet, none seem able to permanently impose the success that their talent implies.

Will the English never relinquish themselves from their own averaging tendencies? Are we happiest sitting at a statistical mean?

Maybe we are just rubbish in the mind?


live cricket said...

great posting......

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, I totally acknowlegde the 06/07 Ashes series. But as an Aussie living in the UK, I may be the only one who does!!

Except you, I'm guessing.

Good post.

Silk said...

Have you correlated this against sunspot activity? Just a thought...