October 18, 2011

Multistats

Multistat: 440

Andy Zaltzman

Number of balls faced by Geoffrey Boycott in in Perth in 1978-79. How many did he hit over the boundary rope for four? (a) 439 - he really went for it after being knocked unconscious at breakfast on day one when Ian Botham unexpectedly flang a croissant at him at high speed; (b) 5 - not exactly bums-on-seats batting, more bums-off-seats-to-go-to-the-bar-for-a-beer-to-numb-the-pain batting; or (c) 0 - what had the boundary rope ever done to him? Why should he inconvenience it by sending a ball hurtling towards it?

Think about your answer carefully. No conferring.

Concentrate.

Pens down. The answer is - brace yourselves, Twenty20 fans ‒ (c) 0. In nine hours 42 minutes of batting, the Yorkshire legend managed a solitary all-run four. The Packer-ravaged 78-79 series was by no means Boycott's career highlight - he averaged fractionally under 22, his strike rate was fractionally over 22, and, in all, he smote five scintillating boundaries in more than 24 hours at the crease - fractionally more than one fence-blasting hammer-blow per day's play. In fact, if a team made up entirely of 1978-79 Boycott clones batted at both ends for an entire 90-over day, they would end on 122 for 5. And all this happened to the lilting background tones of Kerry Packer giggling wildly to himself and asking, "Anyone want to watch some guys in silly clothes whacking it about a bit?"

Boycott proudly resides in third place in the slowest-recorded match-scoring rate of anyone who has faced at least 400 balls in a Test - narrowly behind Brearley's defiantly strokeless 17 off 64 and 74 off 344 against Pakistan in 1977-78, but way adrift of the career masterpiece of the Plato of Plod himself, Trevor Bailey, who brought humanity to the precipice of spiritual permafrost in scoring 27 off 116, followed by 68 off 427 (match figures of 95 runs off 543 balls, equivalent to two entire days' batting in a modern Test, and a strike rate of 17) at the Gabba in 1958-59.

It is now widely accepted by experts that it was Bailey's second innings, rather than competition with the Soviet Union, that prompted America to invest heavily in space travel, in order to offer the people of the world a viable escape route from having to witness similar innings in future.

Also: The percentage increase in sales of coffee reported by hot drink stalls at the Perth Test in 1978-79 whilst Geoff Boycott was at the crease.

Also: The percentage increase in sales of champagne reported by bars at the following Test in Melbourne after Boycott was out 13th ball for 1.

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Zaltzman
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.

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