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The Confectionery Stall is quite open about its statistics fetish, however much society at large may disapprove. Here are some statistical pointers to how England will perform in the Test series, generated with a combustible cocktail of fact and inappropriate mathematics:
In all, Panesar has passed 10 only four times in his Test career – but in those matches, he has taken 23 wickets at an average of 24, with three five-wicket innings. In the 29 Tests when he has not excelled with the bat, Panesar’s bowling average balloons to nearly 34. Clearly, he is England’s most important wicket. India’s bowlers should be targeting Panesar more than any other batsman.
England, for their part, should be giving Monty round-the-clock batting coaching. It must be worth the ECB’s effort and funding – let it not be forgotten that Panesar had a better batting average after his first 12 Tests than Don Bradman, Len Hutton or Viv Richards had after their first 1. (Or Graham Gooch after 2.) (Or Mike Gatting after 3.) (Or Martin Crowe after 4.) (Or Jacques Kallis after 5.) (Or Bill Edrich or Wasim Akram after 8.) (Or Marvan Atapattu after 9.) (Or Kenny Rutherford after 12.) (The list goes on.) (Probably.) (Until: Or Courtney Walsh after 132.) (Where it ends.)
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writerFeeds: Andy Zaltzman
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Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.