Multistats November 8, 2011

Multistat: 53.5

Greetings, Confectionery Stallers

Greetings, Confectionery Stallers. We have decided to incorporate the Multistats into the main blog. So there will be more blogs, but some of them will be shorter, and jam-packed with stats. If you are allergic to stats, or fearful of truth, you are cordially advised to ignore the Multistats blogs, or read them under medical and/or psychological supervision.

The Test average of Sri Lankan top-seven batsmen in their 30s since Kumar Sangakkara entered his fourth decade on this planet on October 27, 2007 – the best by any Test side in that time.

Over the same period, Sri Lankan top-seven batsmen under the age of 30 have averaged 31.6 – sixth best, ahead only of Pakistan and West Indies, and marginally so. (I have excluded Bangladesh, who have had hardly any over-30 players, Zimbabwe, who have played hardly any Tests, and Italy, who have (a) played no Tests at all and (b) been governed by Silvio Berlusconi, a man so naughty that he disqualifies his entire nation from the holy realm of cricket statistics. There. Someone had to say it.)

During this time (Sangakkara’s 30s, not Berlusconi’s rule over Italy), India’s and Pakistan’s top sevens have also registered a significantly higher average by gnarled 30-plus veterans compared with fresh-faced 20-somethings. India’s heavily illustrious 30-plus batting brigade has averaged 50.3, and Pakistan’s 45.5 (second and third best of the Test nations). Their under-30 averages are 37.3 and 31.4 respectively (fourth and seventh best).

West Indies are the only other team whose 30-plus oldies have outperformed their sub-30 youngsters in the last four years (41.7 to 30.7). Australia as a nation, slowly recuperating from the departure of its own generation of greats, pays little heed to baggy-green age (over-30s averaging 42.4, under-30s 44.5), whilst South Africa (43.6 to 52.3), England (39.5 to 47.2) and New Zealand (26.7 to 33.6) all show significantly better returns from their younger players.

Admittedly, Sangakkara’s 30th birthday, joyous occasion though it no doubt was for him and his family, might not be the most scientifically unignorable milestone on which to base a stat. However, the fact remains that, since the Matale Machine blew out those 30 candles on his cricket-bat-shaped cake, not only has the world economy collapsed like St Brian’s Primary School Under-9s in their little-reported match against West Indies in 1984, but it appears than an Asian-cricket lover may have secretly discovered the elixir of eternal youth ‒ since then, Asian batsmen have been 50% more effective when over 30 years of age than when under 30.

The figures suggest that the golden era of Asian batsmanship has left something of a void beneath, and one that will need filling as a matter of increasing urgency.

(By the way, in case you are reciting this stat during an attempted seduction, and the primary stat does not win the heart of your intended, here is a back-up stat to clinch the deal: in ODIs, these figures are mirrored very closely – over-30s versus under-30s ‒ other than by England’s under-30 batsmen, who have been excellent in Tests, but have explored all conceivable crannies of underperformance in ODIs).

Also: The number of times, per hour, that the average Sri Lankan cricket fan wishes Murali was still fit and firing. Since he retired, Sri Lanka have not only failed to win any of their 14 Tests, but their bowlers have collectively averaged 45.

Over the course of his career, Murali twirled his country to 54 wins in 132 Tests, taking 795 Test wickets (excluding the Super Test where he played for the World XI) at 22; Sri Lanka’s other bowlers in those games averaged 36. Even in the 23 Tests Murali missed during his career, his colleagues managed to average 37.

Not only was Murali a more than useful bowler himself (“probably better than Eddie Hemmings” – International Understatement Magazine, January 2008), but since his retirement, Sri Lankan bowling appears to have gone into a prolonged grump at the realisation that he has gone forever, subject to some major age-reversing advances in one or both of science and witchcraft.

In the words of Piglet’s agent during a particularly heated argument over how to split the royalties from the latest Winnie The Pooh film, it has all been too much to bear. Boom.

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

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