Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Slightly unfair criticism

2011 was a pretty tough year for Australian cricket (2012 is at least starting out a bit brighter). When Allan Border was appointed Australian captain in thr dark days of the mid 80s, he asked Ian Chappell for a bit of advice. "Whatever you do, don't lose to the Poms," was the succint advice. Not the best of years then. This sort of trauma can lead people to avert their eyes - which is the kindest explanation of this piece from Ben Dorries in the Australian Courier Mail. Because its subject - the relative failure of Test batsmen in 2011 - suffers from a bad case of elephant-missing:

More Test cricket is being played these days but in 2011 there were only two players (Indian veteran Rahul Dravid and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakarra) who amassed more than 1000 Test runs for the calendar year. And only three others scored more than 900.

Compare this to some of the huge hauls of past years like Pakistan's Mohammad Yousef (1788 runs in 2006), the great West Indian Viv Richards (1710 runs in 1976) and Ricky Ponting's 1544 runs in 2005.

The problem with this analysis is that Test cricket wasn't played more in 2011 than usual - the reverse in fact. The number 2 Test side, South Africa, played a mere 5 matches in 2011; the number 1 side, England, played 8. By way of reference, Yousuf played 11 Tests in 2006, averaging 99; Richards played 11 in 1976, averaging 90; and Ponting played a whopping 15 in 2005, averaging 67.

There is, luckily a good way to adjust for the disparity in number of matches played - averages. So, lets look at how a couple of the players that Dorries couldn't quite bring himself to mention fared in 2011:

Ian Bell: 8 matches, 950 runs @ 119
Alastair Cook: 8 matches, 924 runs @ 84

Aussie batsmen may have had a shocking 2011, but it wasn't really a global phenomenon now, was it?


Anonymous Grumpy Old Man said...

You didn't really expect balance from an Aussie about english cricketers after being hammered 3-1 last Winter, did you?t

12:28 pm  

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