January 30, 2011

Numbers don't matter, heart does

Cricinfo
From Gerard Jayaranjan, India
24

From Gerard Jayaranjan, India

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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sogand on May 23, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    Quite easily, all of the issue is ralley the most important during this laudable niche. We recognize using your data and often will thirstily count on all your prospective tweets. Mentioning many thanks won't be all you need, to make the amazing lucidity of your publishing. Most definitely i'll instantly obtain ones own feed to stay in surprise of one's updates. Decent work and a lot achievement rrnside your corporation!

  • 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...

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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? :-)

  • 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..

  • Sogand on May 23, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    Quite easily, all of the issue is ralley the most important during this laudable niche. We recognize using your data and often will thirstily count on all your prospective tweets. Mentioning many thanks won't be all you need, to make the amazing lucidity of your publishing. Most definitely i'll instantly obtain ones own feed to stay in surprise of one's updates. Decent work and a lot achievement rrnside your corporation!

  • 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...

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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? :-)

  • 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..

  • Anonymous on January 31, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    Yup..precisely what i think as well about Pathan. He might be having lower average than other "better" players, the fact of the matter is that he is a match winner. And since he's a high risk player, he's bound to give you more disappointments than others. But then, his successes will far outweigh his disappointments. Here's hoping for a great career for him. As for dada, well, as someone said, the greats always try for one last chance, even if it comes at their dignity. I can sense Dravid following Ganguly in that sense

  • sundar on January 31, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    very true!!!!!!!!!!

  • avkash desai on January 31, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    hi sir i m copmletely agree with you, this are some of my all time faveriout cricketers- brian lara,sehwag sachin, warne, wasim, laxman. m.yusuf,mark waugh. i like none of these because of number of runs they have scored or the wickets they have taken, but only because the way they have done it. and bye the way brian charls lara is my all time faveriout batsman. thank you.

  • Vijayendra Darode on January 31, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Nice. Well written. Keep it on.

  • Neha on January 31, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    Very well put. This is what cricket means to a whole lotta ppl who don't understand the stats but watch it as avidly n enthsiastically as the cric nerd. Nice!

  • bedanta on January 31, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Even though I too would not change the channel when Yusuf is there, I would rather prefer a Tendulkar finishing the job than banking on Yusuf!

  • Govind Raj on January 31, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    I agree !

    I used to flip channels earlier, fearing he might get out while I watch. He used to get out when I wasn't.

    But now the mature version of Photon is as exciting as watching Sehwag. I bury the remote control when he is around !

  • Jerome on January 31, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    Couldn't have said it any better. It is truly like being in love. Cricket is a game where the fans follow with their hearts and not their minds. Dil toh Baccha hai ji. :-)

  • Yogesh on January 31, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    Mate, Wonderful. I was thinking of writing something on Inbox to the same effect. Suddenly, numbers have become the be all and end all of cricket. If they were indeed so, we are better of watching scorecards on cricinfo than the match on television. Numbers conceal the nature of the context, pitch and many other aspects of the game that make it worth watching. Increasingly many writers today in wanting to write objectively are building stories around numbers instead of using numbers as a prop. Classical examples are Sachin vs Don and Kallis vs Sobers. Most of these comparisons are done just by choosing some columns on their statsguru pages. This is the easiest way to write a column today. This is one reason why i admire Peter Roebuck. He never uses meaningless numbers.

    Emotion is indeed the reason why i watch cricket. Emotion is indeed the reason why i enjoy watching cricket even more when Tendulkar bats. I have no clue as to why similar emotions arise in others too.

  • Waspsting on January 30, 2011, 23:45 GMT

    I feel similarly, but try to balance it with another set of questions.

    - If I have money on this match, do I want to see this guy playing (for or against)?

    - if i'm the coach and my job depends on the outcome of this match, do I want to see this guy?

    Food for thought. I've never changed the channel on Imran Nazir, and I've never sat through a full innings of Steve Waugh - but I know who I'd have in my side if I had the choice!

  • Ahsan on January 30, 2011, 23:41 GMT

    Thats why the whole nation loves when Afridi is at the crease. Or when Shoaib is in his stride. Love it! Thts what its all about. Brilliant article!

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on January 30, 2011, 21:12 GMT

    Sooooo, according to the vagaries of this article that would mean Pakistan are the best team in the world. They fill your heart with every emotion imaginable under the sun, and that's just in the morning session alone. We need numbers to differentiate, compare and analyse otherwise we'll have cricinfo readers fighting all the time... wait that happens anyway.

  • DeepaK on January 30, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    nice to read, for me its tendulkar i like his inning no matter he scores 10 or 100 or 200 his one back foot punch or one drive dosent matter on off side or on side anything he dose on ground or outside it i want to follow that and i know that im not only person think like that there r millions of cricket fan have same thinking may be for diff. player.

  • Mohammed on January 30, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    I'm afraid I disagree, althought stats don't tell you everything, they give you a good indiciation of what a player's performance has been like or a teams.

    Stats tell us a lot, that the Indian openers are consistently destructive, that Pakistan's middle order is explosive but inconsistent. Stats tell us Tendulkar is a damn good player and Ponting was once a good player, but now he's garbage.

    I don't think we can overlook stats so easily.

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  • Mohammed on January 30, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    I'm afraid I disagree, althought stats don't tell you everything, they give you a good indiciation of what a player's performance has been like or a teams.

    Stats tell us a lot, that the Indian openers are consistently destructive, that Pakistan's middle order is explosive but inconsistent. Stats tell us Tendulkar is a damn good player and Ponting was once a good player, but now he's garbage.

    I don't think we can overlook stats so easily.

  • DeepaK on January 30, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    nice to read, for me its tendulkar i like his inning no matter he scores 10 or 100 or 200 his one back foot punch or one drive dosent matter on off side or on side anything he dose on ground or outside it i want to follow that and i know that im not only person think like that there r millions of cricket fan have same thinking may be for diff. player.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on January 30, 2011, 21:12 GMT

    Sooooo, according to the vagaries of this article that would mean Pakistan are the best team in the world. They fill your heart with every emotion imaginable under the sun, and that's just in the morning session alone. We need numbers to differentiate, compare and analyse otherwise we'll have cricinfo readers fighting all the time... wait that happens anyway.

  • Ahsan on January 30, 2011, 23:41 GMT

    Thats why the whole nation loves when Afridi is at the crease. Or when Shoaib is in his stride. Love it! Thts what its all about. Brilliant article!

  • Waspsting on January 30, 2011, 23:45 GMT

    I feel similarly, but try to balance it with another set of questions.

    - If I have money on this match, do I want to see this guy playing (for or against)?

    - if i'm the coach and my job depends on the outcome of this match, do I want to see this guy?

    Food for thought. I've never changed the channel on Imran Nazir, and I've never sat through a full innings of Steve Waugh - but I know who I'd have in my side if I had the choice!

  • Yogesh on January 31, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    Mate, Wonderful. I was thinking of writing something on Inbox to the same effect. Suddenly, numbers have become the be all and end all of cricket. If they were indeed so, we are better of watching scorecards on cricinfo than the match on television. Numbers conceal the nature of the context, pitch and many other aspects of the game that make it worth watching. Increasingly many writers today in wanting to write objectively are building stories around numbers instead of using numbers as a prop. Classical examples are Sachin vs Don and Kallis vs Sobers. Most of these comparisons are done just by choosing some columns on their statsguru pages. This is the easiest way to write a column today. This is one reason why i admire Peter Roebuck. He never uses meaningless numbers.

    Emotion is indeed the reason why i watch cricket. Emotion is indeed the reason why i enjoy watching cricket even more when Tendulkar bats. I have no clue as to why similar emotions arise in others too.

  • Jerome on January 31, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    Couldn't have said it any better. It is truly like being in love. Cricket is a game where the fans follow with their hearts and not their minds. Dil toh Baccha hai ji. :-)

  • Govind Raj on January 31, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    I agree !

    I used to flip channels earlier, fearing he might get out while I watch. He used to get out when I wasn't.

    But now the mature version of Photon is as exciting as watching Sehwag. I bury the remote control when he is around !

  • bedanta on January 31, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Even though I too would not change the channel when Yusuf is there, I would rather prefer a Tendulkar finishing the job than banking on Yusuf!

  • Neha on January 31, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    Very well put. This is what cricket means to a whole lotta ppl who don't understand the stats but watch it as avidly n enthsiastically as the cric nerd. Nice!