C365 Press Tent: It’s a numbers game


Welcome to the Press Tent, Cricket365’s look at the wonderful world of the cricketing media. This week, the maths looks a bit iffy all round.

Around the World For Three Days

Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday made it onto the illustrious pages of the Press Tent with his comments on Eoin Morgan’s non-anthem singing refusal to tour Bangladesh over the last few weeks. For what seems to be little more than a chance to have a pop at Morgan for refusing to tour, Mr Holt has flown to Bangladesh, for a total of three days, to cast his eye over the presidential level of security being provided by a country that can’t really afford it.

There was a chance that the one game that Holt had booked himself in to see in Chittagong would have been rained off but he was lucky that the rain that was forecast did not appear. England won the game and as the dust settled on a brilliant series win for a young team, Holt was sending a tweet about Morgan’s absence.

“Excellent win for England in Chittagong to seal series victory. Didn’t miss Morgan, whose absence seems increasingly bizarre.”

There is quite a bit to talk about it in this 18-word tweet. First, it was an excellent win by an inexperienced England side that are now more experienced.

Second, they clearly did miss Morgan both as a batsman and as a captain. He would have been a big boon for the side, especially in the second game where England’s top order crumbled and bowlers struggled for direction at the death.

Lastly, Morgan’s absence from a tour where there is unprecedented levels of security because of legitimate threats against touring cricket teams is hardly bizarre, especially when his bosses have told him he can choose not to go.

England’s Director of Cricket, Andrew Strauss, has made it clear that Morgan will be back in the side as captain for the India tour.

Day/Night Disappointment

The second ever day/night Test has got underway in the UAE, with Pakistan taking on West Indies under floodlights with a pink ball. This is undoubtedly great news for the sport as more and more boards are moving to make Test cricket more watchable in a time poor age.

But in Dubai it was hard to focus on the goings on in the middle without taking in the swathes of empty seats. One of the main reasons for going for day/night games is to get more people in the ground.

It would be unfair to compare the UAE, a neutral venue where the only audience are expats who have always shown more interest in shorter forms, to other venues. Even then it was a shockingly poor turn out. Paul Radley, a UAE based sports journalist, tweeted about the crowd in exasperated tones.

“68 people in the stands for the first over by my count. Pink ball experiment, what a waste of time  #PAKvWI.”

The pink ball looked great though.

The Bradman of Bowling?

Over on Wisden India there was a post by Saurabh Somani that gave us something new – #AshwinBradmanMaths.

The premise of the piece is one we can all agree with – Ravichandran Ashwin is really good at bowling. From there it takes a bit of a bizarre turn as Somani tries to explain that Ashwin is now at Bradman levels of statistical excellence.

“Whisper it, but Ashwin is in the Bradman territory of bowling.

“And consider also the fact that there is no restriction on a batsman – especially a top-order batsman – from scoring a century. A bowler has only 10 wickets to go around, so taking a five-wicket haul is rarer than scoring a century.

“Both are similar levels of achievement, but one is rarer. There have been 3925 centuries scored in Test cricket as against 2831 five-wicket hauls. If you take those figures as a rough ratio, 29 centuries would equate to 21 five-wicket hauls. Yes, that’s the number Ashwin already has. Yes, he’s not even bowled in 80 innings – the number the Don batted in – yet.”

Away from the mathematical loops that this piece takes us through as it tries to compare apples with watermelons, the reason why Bradman is considered so great isn’t the numbers that he achieved, it is that he is so much better than anyone else who ever played the game. He was literally twice as good as the next best.

While Ashwin is on par with some truly great bowlers, and is on course to break records by the truckload, the well-meaning Bradman comparison doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.

Innovations and Inventions

The coverage of cricket has reached levels that were inconceivable just a few years ago. From Hawkeye to Real Time Snicko to Hot Spot – we are in the golden age of cricket on television. The quest for improvement is never ending. Aakash Chopra was on Twitter promoting some innovations.

“‘Real Deal’ ‘Predictor’s Hat’ ‘Real Skill’ ‘Out of the Box’ Exciting new innovations by @StarSportsIndia. Which one did you like the most?”

Is it OK if we say they all sound a bit shit?

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