January 30, 2011

Numbers don't matter, heart does

Cricinfo

From Gerard Jayaranjan, India

Yusuf Pathan cuts powerfully during his career-best performance, India v New Zealand, 4th ODI, Bangalore, December 7, 2010
Don't change the channel when Yusuf Pathan's at the crease  © AFP
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These days statistics and numbers are thrown at us like a half-tracker from Mitchell Johnson. Well, at least for me, they don’t matter. It maybe sacrilegious to many a cricket enthusiast, but I don’t care how many runs Sachin has made, how many wickets Murali has taken or for that matter how many times Ponting has waggled his finger at the umpire.

What matters to me is the inexplicable feeling that these guys, like many others, evoke inside me when they come on to bat or bowl or take a running start at the covers. That feeling when your heart brims over with hope, when your stomach plays host to butterflies is what makes that player special. That sinking feeling when a Kallis walks out to bat or watching Ponting get on the front foot. That feeling when you know in your gut that today may not be your day.

It’s much like love. You don’t need statistics and past history to point you towards a relationship that will work out. It seldom does. It’s your gut and the slow melancholic dance of the butterflies in your stomach that points you to a direction. Yes, a lot like love, actually.

It is the same feeling that proves to me that Ganguly is best not playing the IPL. Hold on to your effigies. I don’t care how many runs he made in the last IPL or whether he was the most successful captain. What I care about is that the God of the off-side no longer evokes the same emotion in me. That emotion of knowing that while Dada is at the crease, no off-side field is perfect, no bowler is dangerous and there is nothing called an off-side field.

I don’t know what Yusuf Pathan’s career average is. Or his highest score. All I know is that when he takes guard, I don’t change the channels, no matter how bad the batting side is playing. To me, that matters. More than numbers.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Posted by kiwirocker on (February 9, 2011, 23:47 GMT)

Nopes....because if we remove stats then even AFRIDI might seem to b a gud player..only the pathetic average reveals the truth...when viewed realistically whole of pakistan has misplaced its faith in players like afridi and razzaq...they score a century in 2 years and the fans keep hoping...

Posted by Ammit on (February 9, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

Its passion for game that runs the game and that what keeps you hitting F5 200 times in a minute on CricInfo to see if Sachin reached his 200. This is what makes you miss the flight at airport as you were busy watching score online and forgot your flight was announced.True stories;) I still remember Mc G. setting up 7 fielders on off side and Dada hitting him for over through off side for 4 for 3 times in an over. I still remember expressions on his and Ponting's face. Dada removing his shirt and shouting F#$% *## after chasing 300+ runs.I only picture Prasad ripping off stumps of Amir Sohail whenever you mention him. He was not the greatest but he gave me a memory. But numbers do matter. I mean these players have these numbers that proves they have made such contribution. Like the most unsung Daniel Vettori. There is a huge list of such players who has contributed so much but just because they do not have those moments you are often less cherished.You need to respect person by stats

Posted by D.V.C. on (February 1, 2011, 0:34 GMT)

If Mahommad Ashraful's continued selection is any guide, the Bangladesh selectors feel the same way as you do.

Posted by Muzammil Saeed on (January 31, 2011, 20:09 GMT)

@AndyZaltmansHair...NO, this artical really does not mean that Paksitan is the best team in the world BUT it means that we love our cricketers. Cricket is more than a game for us. I love Afridi thats why I want him to perform well and take Pakistan to semis. I love Muhammad Yousaf thats why I am angery that why he is not selected for the worldcup no matter howmuchever the team is talented. I love shoib thats why I feel that he has under-achieved and has not got even 275 ODI wickets while HIS hero has got 502 ODI wickets. Cricket is more than game for people of subcontinent.

Posted by lucky on (January 31, 2011, 17:38 GMT)

history really matters when ever we talk about world cup we recall kapil n his team not sachin , ganguli, or dravid no one: I love sachin so I fell that way for sachin n want him to score million of runs n enjoy, 10 percent agree with what u wrote.

Posted by unni on (January 31, 2011, 14:19 GMT)

of course you love a batsman not because of his statistics, usually. It is the quality of shots, temper, and so many other parameters, which cannot be contained to numbers. So, that is as far as heart goes !!

Now, when I read/use statistics it is another brain controlled excercise. There I get more insights about player performances which I might have overlooked or I was simply not capable of knowing it without stats.

It is another level of appreciation and no harm if this brain-channel is used as far as the emotional attachment is confined to self and to a group you know for sure shares your sentiments.

Posted by Syed on (January 31, 2011, 13:29 GMT)

I agree with Gerard that statistics does not provide a complete picture - in not just cricket but many other sports as well. Tendulkar's 10 run stay or Brian Lara's quick departure to the pavilion is still considered to be special because of the aura they bring to the crease.

If one considers Brian Lara's case in this regard, his stats just dont give the right picture of his abilities or grace. He is above and beyond what his stats depict and I might add that statistics shouldn't be considered in his case, more than any other batsmen, as they just don't come close to describe his ability, potential and domination on a cricketing field.

Posted by Borogove on (January 31, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

Agreed, numbers can't tell the whole story (e.g. innings on tough pitches, performances across generations, quick runs made in a chase, wickets sacrificed for quick runs, runs sacrificed to buy wickets etc.), but it certainly adds some depth to comparisons as to who is the better batsman - Tendulkar or Lara; better bowler - Muralitharan or Warne etc. Without the magical Test batting average of 99.96, would the new generation truly respect Bradman or perhaps even know of him?

The comparison to love is an unfortunate one, as feelings are fickle (re. comment on Ganguly not evoking the same emotion).

I think the well-rounded cricket aficionado/connoisseur/fan has a healthy respect/attachment for both the art, science and math of cricket. For the others, to each his own...

Our game is truly a glorious one, for which other enables such die-hard, philosophical discussions/debates, across so many cultures? :-)

Posted by Haris on (January 31, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

Very true..Tht feeling of intimacy for the game brings out the heart-rendering emotions and all the experience and thinking power tht spurts out when one watches those who are their playing for their nation giving their utmost for a victory..

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