January 8, 2013

2013

Aristotle's predictions for 2013

Andy Zaltzman
Phillip Hughes slashes through the off side, Victoria v South Australia, Sheffield Shield, Melbourne, 3rd day, November 25, 2012
Prediction No. 77 b: Phil Hughes to be approached by producers looking to revive the Friday the 13th franchise  © Getty Images
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Two thousand and thirteen promises to be one of the least diverse years in England's recent cricketing history. In the next 13 months, they will play 15 Tests, 25 ODIs (one or two more if they qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy), and ten T20Is. After the impending five-match ODI series in India, all but two of their remaining currently scheduled total of 105 potential days of international cricket will be against New Zealand (up to 37 days: five Tests, seven ODIs, five T20Is) or Australia (up to 66 days: ten Tests, 11 ODIs, five T20Is).

A group-stage Champions Trophy game against Sri Lanka, and a one-off ODI versus Ireland, offer the only non-antipodean variety in this oversized blancmange of cricketing homogeneity. As Aristotle once sagely said: "You can have too much of a good thing." Admittedly, the former professional philosopher said that after waking up naked on top of the Parthenon after a few too many flagons of cheap ouzo and an unsuccessful wrestle with a man in a pantomime lion outfit claiming to be Hercules (Source: The Complete and Incontrovertible Oxford History of Classical Philosophy [1875], by Prof VZ Snutterbuck OBE, Vol. VII, pp. 213-279). However, the famously wise old celeb had a point.

All the indications suggest that, had Aristotle been born in a cricket-playing nation at some point in the mid-to-late 20th century, he would have been a big cricket fan, and quite probably a journalist and/or commentator (Source: From Confucius to Wittgenstein: Dead Philosophers I Would Like To See Me Bowl [2012], by JW Dernbach).

As such, Aristotle would undoubtedly have sat down on New Year's day and thought: "Emotionally and logistically, I am going to have to prioritise. Even I, as a hardcore fan of the great game and, more importantly, as the senior cricket correspondent of the Harvard Journal of Ethical Philosophy and Bat Sports, I simply cannot care about all of those days of cricket. And whilst I love the Ashes and everything it stands for, its traditions and its ancient rivalry that has carved a compelling narrative through the last 136 years of history, even I might struggle to be overwhelmingly excited by watching the 38th Trott v Siddle duel of the year. Ah well, beats having a proper job.

"Tell you what ‒ I'll set myself a challenge," the ace-class thinkster would continue. "I'll try to write the words 'Phil Hughes edged to third slip' on fewer than 25 occasions this year. It's going to be tough but I'll give it a go. And I'll try to enjoy the ODI series in India whilst I have the chance. Even if it is tagged on as a bit of an afterthought to last year's Test series, and even if England are resting key players because they also have to prioritise what cricket they most care about ‒ because they have somehow scheduled themselves 103 days of cricket against just two countries from the other side of the planet in the next 13 months."

Aristotle would conclude: "I am going to make two predictions for this year. Prediction One: if on 31 December 2013 you ask 100 randomly selected cricket fans what the scoreline was in the five-match ODI series between England and Australia in September, a maximum of three will give you the correct answer. Two of them will have guessed it, and the other one will only remember because he landed a 12,000,000-1 accumulator bet because of it (the other three bets in which were: the British media to get overexcited at the birth of the magic royal baby; at least one six to be hit in this year's IPL; and Chris Martin to score a Test hundred at Lord's).

"And Prediction Two: on current form, and with this schedule, effigies of Alastair Cook are going to be the biggest-selling Christmas gift of 2013 in 99% of all Australian shops."

When pressed for a prediction for the India-England series, Aristotle would stroke his outdated beard, say, "Well, that depends on whether India bat as badly as they did against Pakistan ‒which in turn depends in part on whether James Tredwell has borrowed Saeed Ajmal's body ‒ and on whether England play as well as they did when they last played Test cricket in India, and not as well as they did when they last played ODI cricket in India. So, tough call. I'll say 3-2 to India. Now leave me alone, I have to do some philosophy about how human beings should live, and stuff like that."

● England will have watched Pakistan's superb series win with interest, and will have noted their key tactics - have a left-handed opening batsman who can score hundreds; and bowl relentlessly well. Part A they have the personnel in place for; Part B might be trickier to accomplish. Pakistan's bowlers conceded just 3.77 per over during the series - the most economical performance by any bowling attack in an ODI series against India since New Zealand shipped 3.40 per over in a seven-match series in 2002-03, and the second lowest ever by a visiting attack in a one-day series in India (beaten only by the 1983-84 Pakistanis, who went for 3.57 per over in two games).

It was the first time an away team in a bilateral ODI series between top-eight Test nations has conceded less than four per over since Pakistan's trip to Sri Lanka in 2005-06 (3.60 per over - the only such performance more economical than the current Pakistan team's recent effort since 1994-95).

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

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Posted by Slartibartfast on (February 14, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

Depends on who tours - Steven O'Keefe hasn't been chosen for the India series this month, but may be for England. Australia have beaten England in a series in England without a specialist leg-spinner in the squad only once in the last 100 years - 1964 (and Bobby Simpson was a pretty fair part-timer). Choose O'Keefe and it might be close, without him we'll get clobbered again.

Posted by jimmy on (January 25, 2013, 16:25 GMT)

Please predict the sa vs pak series result...

Posted by Chris on (January 15, 2013, 17:01 GMT)

12 million to one sounds a bit mean odds on Chris Martin. Couldn't the person in question find a better bookie?

Posted by Chris Talbot on (January 8, 2013, 23:45 GMT)

England & Australia should have include Ireland and either the Netherlands or Scotland into a 4 Nations Tournament instead of the ODI series. You have help develop their game whilst learning what it is like to be the big dog with all pressure on you.

Posted by mark on (January 8, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

Jack (1st comment) what you have just suggested is that the funniest and most astute writer on this site abandon all that makes him great. My suggestion to you-buy a thesaurus

Posted by Andrew on (January 8, 2013, 16:51 GMT)

@ Jack - Andy Zaltzman's blog without heavy usage of metaphors would be like Jordan's autobiography without the photos, or Slough.

Even less interesting Reading.

Ahem.

Posted by Pradeep on (January 8, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

These are my predictions of near future matches Ind vs Eng : 5-0 Ind Sa vs Pak : 2-1 SA

Always a great thought provoking summary Andy.

Posted by Plato on (January 8, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

Aristotle? Give over.

Posted by Anil on (January 8, 2013, 14:39 GMT)

Hey Jack, if you want a "toned-down" write-up with little metaphors and in layman's English, why did you come to this page? It is these very qualities that this page thrives for, and attracts (rather, overwhelms) numerous fans/readers like me.

Posted by Kung Fu Fighter on (January 8, 2013, 11:46 GMT)

A very interesting read. Seriously, Engaland are going to have a burnout.

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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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