December 7, 2016

The Confectionery Stall stat-vent calendar, week two

Parthiv Patel's opening feat, Adil Rashid's crucial next two Tests, and England's horrendous conversion rate from 80 to 100 all feature on this week's list of must-know stats
13

Parthiv Patel is, by at least one measure, India's sixth best Test opener of all time © AFP

Click here for week one of The Confectionery Stall Stat-vent Calendar

Seven more stats for you to unveil, one each morning, instead of looking at a badly-drawn picture of a robin, or eating a disappointing chocolate, or releasing a live and irritable scorpion, if you have been given a prank advent calendar by a lifelong foe.

December 8
Parthiv Patel is the sixth greatest Indian Test opener in history - if you judge greatness purely by the time between the first time you do something and the last.

Parthiv first opened the batting for India in December 2002, when he walked out alongside Sanjay Bangar in Hamilton, in the third innings of the only Test in history in which both sides were bowled out for under 100 in their first innings. It would have been a tough assignment for a 100-Test veteran opener. Parthiv was a 17-year-old wicketkeeper with fewer than 500 first-class runs to his name. If someone had told the teenager then that he would still be opening for India almost 14 years later, he would probably have thought to himself: "Well, this is obviously going to go very well indeed. I can confidently look forward to a glorious career of unremitting run-scoring and national adulation."

Parthiv was bowled for a fourth-ball duck, and, before Mohali last month, had opened only once more, making 69 in an innings victory in Rawalpindi in 2004, partnering Rahul Dravid in the early stages of his career-best 270.

The 13 years and 11 months since the Hamilton debacle (which was also, excluding matches curtailed to fewer than 25 overs, the only Test since 1890 in which no batsman has reached 40), put Parthiv in sixth place on the all-time longest-serving Indian Test openers list. If he can open again in February 2021, he will supplant all-time leader Mushtaq Ali, the legendary stylist from India's early Test years, whose 16 innings as opener spanned 18 years and a month from January 1934 and February 1952.

(The rest of the top five: Sunil Gavaskar (16 years, March 1971-March 1987, 203 innings); Vijay Merchant (15 years and four months, June 1936-November 1951, 12 innings); Navjot Sidhu (15 years, December 1983-January 1999, 69 innings); and Dravid (14 years and nine months, November 1996-August 2011, 23 innings))

December 9
Joe Root's 179-ball 78 in Mohali was only the fourth time in his last 32 Test innings (over 17 Tests since November 2015) that he has faced more than 130 balls.

He also topped the 130-ball mark when making 124 off 180 in Rajkot. He faced 406 deliveries in his 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford, and his Johannesburg 110 took 139 balls. In his previous 33 innings, over 19 Tests after his 2014 recall, he had lasted 130-plus balls on 14 occasions.

He batted for 130 balls six times in his first 29 Test innings before he was dropped for the final Ashes Test of the 2013-14 horror tour. You may well argue that 130 balls is an oddly random number of balls on which to base a statistic. And you may well have a point. But, as the Confectionery Stall's sole stat-arbiter, I declare that the stat stands. Especially when viewed in the context of the following…

December 10
Some time on December 10, England will participate in their 43,104th delivery of international cricket in 2016 - breaking their national record for most balls of cricket played in a year. (Assuming good weather in Mumbai.) (And a match that lasts into the third day.)

At this point, England will have played 31,009 deliveries in Tests, 9807 in ODIs, and 2288 in T20 internationals since New Year, breaking a record set way, way back in 2015. By the end of the fifth Test in Chennai, they will have played around 83,500 balls of international cricket since the 2015 World Cup in all formats, the equivalent of 155 90-over days of actual cricket in just over 21 months.

As a bonus multiple-choice question, are the December 9 stat and the December 10 stat in any way related?

(a) Yes
(b) Probably
(c) Yes

Answers on a postcard to: The ECB Head Golden Goose Squeezer, Department Of Excessive Scheduling, Cricketsville, England.

I would go for (a) or (c), I think. Root is still batting well, still scoring influential runs, still looking like England's most complete all-round batsman for decades. But have his powers of concentration been slightly dulled by England's ceaseless cricketing churn?

Depending on the length of the final two Tests, England will probably end fifth or sixth in the Most Balls Of International Cricket Played In A Year list, at around 46,000 deliveries, still some way behind India's 2002 record of 50,826 (in 16 Tests and 35 ODIs).

England's fixtures committee, please take note: Joe Root has been frequently losing his wicket before crossing 130 balls an innings © Getty Images

December 11
Since the end of England's superb series win late in 2012, visiting batsmen in India collectively have averaged 21.84 in 16 Tests, while recording a won 0, lost 14 record. India's spinners have averaged 20.22 in these matches.

By comparison, when touring the West Indies at its statistical peak-unplayable, from 1984 to 1986, visitors' collective batting average was 20.69, and the West Indian pacers averaged 20.77 (a figure bumped up by an almost heroic devotion to no-balls). The challenge currently provided by India in India, then, is statistically comparable to what is rightly regarded as perhaps the toughest batting assignment in Test history. Not as frightening, nor as likely to result in a nasal rearrangement, nor promising a lifetime of harrowing flashbacks of Michael Holding limbering up to come on as second change, but almost as damaging to the batting average.

Other inhospitable hosts have provided statistically similar obstacles - for example, Australia and South Africa around the turn of the millennium, Pakistan in the late-1980s and early-1990s, Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2008, when Murali averaged 16 in home Tests, England in the mid-to-late 1950s, Australia in the immediate post-war years. In terms of numbers, India in India in the past four years have been in a similar bracket of statistical difficulty for visiting batsmen.

December 12
Adil Rashid needs five wickets in the final two Tests to become only the third England bowler since Ian Botham in 1979-80 to take 30 wickets in a winter season.

In between these two somewhat contrasting bearded allrounders, Steve Harmison took 32 in 2003-04 (nine in a Test in Bangladesh, 23 in four in the West Indies), and Graeme Swann 37 in 2009-10 (16 in two matches in Bangladesh, 21 in four in South Africa).

Few bowlers have enjoyed a seven-Test winter to achieve this landmark, but Rashid already has 25 victims after five Tests. Other than Swann, who took 25 or more in three winters out of four from 2008-09 to 2011-12, the only England spinner of the last 50 years to record a 25-wicket winter has been Derek Underwood, who took 33 in both 1970-71 and 1976-77.

Conclusion: You cannot take 25 wickets in a winter season as an England spinner without going on to take at least 250 in your Test career.

(Tony Greig took 29 in eight Tests in 1974-75, but how many were with spin and how many with seam is something Statsguru does not reveal. Ashley Giles came close, taking 24 in six Tests in England's victorious series in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2000-01, when he became the first England spinner to have even a 20-wicket winter since Geoff Miller in the 1978-79 Packer-era Ashes.)

The stats have decreed that if Adil Rashid takes five wickets in the next two Tests, he's guaranteed a 250-wicket Test career © Associated Press

December 13
During the first 29 matches of their 31-Test 2015-2016 marathon, England's batsmen have made 46 scores of 80 or more, but converted just 23 of them into centuries.

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to work out that this means they have a 50% conversion rate of 80s into 100s. A very basic grasp of arithmetic will suffice. Even excluding the two not-out sub-100 scores, the conversion rate is 52%, compared to 77% in the previous four years, and 69% by all other Test teams combined in the 2015-2016 period.

Moreover, 17 of England's 21 80-plus conversion failures have been dismissals in the 80s, giving them an astonishing 39% out-in-the-80s rate (other teams combined in the same period: 22%; all teams throughout Test history: 18%).

If you want to repeat the multiple choice question above, please do so.

England players have been out in the 80s ten times this year. One more in the final two Tests of the year will break the all-time record by a Test team in a calendar year, currently shared with the England of 1982, and the Australia of 1977.

December 14
Australia's 378 for 5 in the second ODI against New Zealand in Canberra on Tuesday was the eighth successive time they have scored 320 or more when batting first in an ODI on home soil.

The sequence began with a ritual flaying of England in their World Cup opener at the MCG in February 2015, and they had scored 329 for 5 against South Africa, also in Canberra, late in 2014, meaning that nine of their last ten innings batting first in home ODIs have been scores of 320 or more. They had posted 320 in four of their previous 49 home first innings (excluding two rain-shortened matches). More numerical proof of the statistical trauma inflicted on modern ODI bowlers.

Click here for week one of The Confectionery Stall Stat-vent Calendar

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Minder37 on December 13, 2016, 12:07 GMT

    Hi Andy, Are you on Xmas holiday? No write-up on 4th Test? Was looking forward to it! Deflated!!!!!

  • arun.cric.fan on December 9, 2016, 13:10 GMT

    Andy the stats God... you must be running a big stat churning mill employing about a 100 Rumpelstiltskins to weave such "magical" stats...

  • FawadAlam4Lyfe on December 9, 2016, 2:47 GMT

    NUTCUTLET, but, but... Fine wine is best consumed after an extended period of time...

  • big_al_81 on December 8, 2016, 12:08 GMT

    Great fun, as ever. @Please Publish - like the name but I think you've failed to notice that the rankings are pretty unreliable unless one team dominates - the 'top' 5 or 6 nations can pretty much beat each other in any given test if you try and allow for conditions in sensible way. The Aussies have been sinking for some time, England have been steadily building but remain inconsistent, India are outstanding at home but rarely challenge themselves anywhere else and when they do, the current excellence of Kohli is let down by toothless bowling, SA are very good but have similar issues to England, Pakistan can win or lose to anyone at any time. Throw the lot of them in a hat and pick a number from 1 to 5!

  • wongwright on December 8, 2016, 4:47 GMT

    thanks Andy. Your usual wonderfully laconic and dry sense of the absurd.

    Hey, when are you and Jarrod going to return with "Two Men Out". It was always the highlight of ESPN as far as I am concerned. Hilarious!

  • rachits on December 8, 2016, 3:51 GMT

    cricuser: why dont u go and look up 'satire' in the dictionary?

  • Please Publish on December 8, 2016, 0:25 GMT

    England & Australia now tie for second place in the Test rankings. Outstanding effort by England. Time for celebration!

    Meanwhile, Australia sacks half its team in disgust.

  • Lmaotsetung on December 7, 2016, 23:00 GMT

    Andy pretty trying to tell us players are under performing because of the relentless schedule, especially Joe Root.

  • cricfan02864667 on December 7, 2016, 21:52 GMT

    He is the best satirical sports writer i have read. It's always a delight to read his piece as a cricket enthusiast.

  • Nutcutlet on December 7, 2016, 19:05 GMT

    Cricinfouser: not for the first time, I note that humour (esp. the ironic strain) is like fine wine - best consumed at its place of origin. PS: I expect Andy knew where his tongue was when he made his Mohali prediction (firmly stuck in his cheek, in case you were wondering!).

  • No featured comments at the moment.