August 5, 2014

The greatest stats quiz ever

Andy Zaltzman
Moeen Ali: soon to displace WG Grace from the pedestal of English cricket's greatest beard  © Getty Images
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Stop whatever you are doing. It is quiz time.

Below is a multiple-choice stats quiz for you to help pass the agonisingly Test-free hours until the action begins at Old Trafford. All you have to do is pick the one false stat from the list of otherwise true numbers.

If you correctly select all three bogus statistics, you win the right to commentate on the final two Tests of the summer, live, in the privacy of your own living room, to whichever of your friends, family members and pets are prepared to listen.

QUESTION 1: MOEEN ALI - TWEAKMASTER GENERAL

STAT A: Moeen, with 15 wickets at 26 in three Tests, has now taken more wickets against India in Tests outside Asia than any spinner since 1980.

STAT B: Moeen's 6 for 67 were the best figures by a spinner against India outside Asia since Jack Noreiga's 9 for 95 for West Indies in the 1971 Trinidad Test, and the best by an England spinner against India since Ray Illingworth's 6 for 29 at Lord's in 1967.

STAT C: Moeen took the first six-wicket haul in the fourth innings of a Test against India since Lance Klusener's 8 for 64 on his South Africa debut in November 1996, and only the second ever fourth-innings bag of six by a spinner against India, after John Bracewell's 6 for 51 for New Zealand in Mumbai in November 1988.

STAT D: Moeen's figures were the best fourth-innings analysis by an English spinner since Derek Underwood tweaked the Kiwis to defeat with 7 for 32 at Lord's in 1969, and the best by a right-arm England spinner since Tom Goddard's 6 for 27, also against the Kiwis, in 1937.

STAT E: Moeen holds the British record of 224.7 miles hopped on a pogo stick, after misunderstanding the instructions for Worcestershire's pre-season training in 2012.

QUESTION 2: GARY BALLANCE - THE YORKSHIROZIMBABWEAN GARRY SOBERS

STAT A: Gary Ballance has scored 70 or more in each of the first five Tests of the English summer - the first man to do so since Ken Barrington in 1967.

STAT B: Ballance is the seventh player to score 70 or more five times in an English Test summer. The last to do so were Graham Gooch and Michael Atherton, who each posted seven 70-plus scores in the batsman-friendly summer of 1990; Gordon Greenidge and Garry Sobers achieved the feat for the West Indies on their 1976 and 1966 tours respectively; Barrington reached 70 six times in 1967, and Peter May in five innings in 1955.

Sobers' performance in 1966 was particularly impressive. He passed 150 three times, whilst also taking 20 wickets at an average of 27 (and bowling 270 overs in five Tests), pouching ten catches, and skippering his team to a 3-1 series win. "A useful cricketer, playing useful cricket" - The International Society Of Sporting Understatements, Autumn Journal, October 1966. May is the only England player to have scored five 70-plus scores in a home summer without having faced Indian bowling.

STAT C: Ballance co-holds the record score ever made by a pantomime cow - 213 not out, scored by Ermintrude (Ballance and Leeds-based soap-opera actress Balthazara-Kelly Lagroache) for the West Yorkshire Playhouse Jack & The Beanstalk XI, for whom Ballance was the guest pro, versus the Derby Assembly Rooms Robin Hood XI (featuring Derbyshire overseas player Chris Rogers as Maid Marian), in December 2010, during the Bagshaw's Hosepipes Northern Pantomime Cricket League.

Lagroache later complained about being forced to play the back half of Ermintrude for the entire innings. Ballance claimed he was doing what was best for the team. In the Beanstalkers' next game, against the Manchester Opera House Cinderella XI, Ermintrude, with Lagroache as the front half, was clean-bowled for a golden duck by the Fairy Godmother (Sajid Mahmood).

STAT D: Ballance is only the second England player to score three Test centuries in his first home summer, after Peter Parfitt, who did so against Pakistan in 1962, having made his Test debut the previous winter. Ballance's three centuries are the 18th instance of an England player scoring three hundreds in a home Test summer (ten of which have occurred since the seven-Test summer was introduced in 2000).

STAT E: [If you allergic to the number 3, please do not read the next sentence without professional medical assistance at hand.] Ballance is the third player to reach three figures three times batting at No. 3 for England in a home summer, after Barrington in 1967 and David Gower in 1985. (Five visiting No. 3s have scored three three-figure scores on tours of England - Macartney (1926), Bradman (1930) and Boon (1993) for Australia, Viv Richards for West Indies in 1976, and India's Dravid (2002)). Ballance needs 104 more runs to surpass David Gower's England record of 710 runs at No. 3 in a home summer; Bradman's all-comers' record of 966 in 1930 is just about within reach.

QUESTION 3: SOUTHAMPTON TEST - BOWLERS' STATATTACK

STAT A: The 15 wickets taken by spinners in the Southampton Test is the equal second most in a Test in England since 1999. In that time, the Trent Bridge Test of 2006, when Murali took 11 of the 19 spin wickets to lead Sri Lanka to victory, was the only match in which tweakers have taken more than the 15 scalps harvested by Moeen (8), Jadeja (5), Root and Rohit (one each) at the Ageas Bowl. Which does slightly beg the question: was it a good move by India to leave Ashwin sitting in the pavilion, and Ojha sitting at home?

STAT B: Southampton was the venue for the record number of consecutive wides bowled in a first-class match - 732, sent down by the Hampshire player VV Snutterbuck, in the County Championship match versus Gloucestershire that began on July 31, 1931. Snutterbuck, on his first-class debut, opened the bowling at the old County Ground, and proceeded deliberately to bowl wide after wide in what he claimed was a political protest at the economic policies of the Ramsay MacDonald government.

The bowler claimed that he was attempting to express his view that the government's attempts to navigate Britain's way through the Great Depression that followed the 1929 Wall Street Crash were "way out of line".

With the score at 732 for 0 off 0.0 overs, after a scintillating display of wicketkeeping by seven-times-capped England stumper George Brown, umpire Len Braund unilaterally called stumps, announcing: "Gentlemen, my shoulders feel like a pair of watermelons after a fight with a rhinoceros. Let's call it a day." Both teams agreed to restart the match the following morning, with Snutterbuck absent due to an elbow injury, and a demoralised Hampshire duly lost by 256 runs.

Snutterbuck never appeared in the first-class game again, but is credited with the collapse of the Labour Party at the general election in October 1931, and later masterminded an escape from a Prisoner Of War camp by distracting the German guards with an in-depth tactical analysis of Bodyline, whilst his fellow inmates escaped in a tunnel dug under the camp's cricket score box, which Snutterbuck himself had constructed out of chewed-up newspapers and sawdust.

STAT C: Ravi Jadeja, with match figures of 5 for 205, became the first Indian left-arm spinner to take five wickets in a Test in England since Dilip Doshi took 5 for 222 at The Oval in 1982 (after hauling in 6 for 102 at Old Trafford in the previous Test).

STAT D: The Southampton Test was only the second time that England have won a Test match despite having two bowlers send down 20 or more overs without taking a wicket - Jordan had match figures of 0 for 81 off 22, Woakes 0 for 83 off 30).

The previous occasion was the Old Trafford Test of 1956, when England's opening bowlers Brian Statham and Trevor Bailey failed to collect any Australian wickets in 22 and 24 miserly overs respectively. Their inability to make early breakthroughs, or indeed any breakthroughs, was of limited relevance, as Jim Laker took 19 baggy-green wickets (which, incidentally, was more than he managed to take in any other series). (Even more incidentally, that Test match was the only time that England's opening bowlers have been wicketless in both innings of a home Test.)

STAT E: Southampton was the 11th time in all that a team has won a Test despite two bowlers remaining wicketless in 20 or more overs, the most recent being when Monde Zondeki and Jacques Kallis played unincisive support roles for South Africa as Makhaya Ntini destroyed West Indies, in Trinidad in 2005.

You have one minute to finish the quiz. Here is a clue in case you are struggling to pick out the false stats from the true ones - the answers make an acronym for a prominent British-based cricket governing body.

And… pens down.

The correct incorrect answers are as follows.

Question 1: E. (Moeen fell off and remounted after 34 miles, so his final distance was never ratified by the IPSA.)

Question 2: C. (The record score by a pantomime cow was 299, by Donald Bradman in the Adelaide Test against South Africa in 1931-32, with legspinner Bill O'Reilly as the back half. With Australia 3-0 up in the series, and Bradman having already scored a double-hundred and two other tons, the great batsman claimed he could score a hundred dressed as a cow against the struggling Proteas. O'Reilly lost the draw to accompany the Don in the costume, and the two never saw eye to eye again.)

Question 3: B. (Snutterbuck's 345th delivery was a no-ball, not a wide.)

All the other stats are true. Here endeth the stats. Amen. Please send help.

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

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Posted by dr_shiva on (August 7, 2014, 5:27 GMT)

Fantastic Andy, even better than usual! (Although I though the answers were more obvious than some of your other posts) _ Shivarama

Posted by Veritas_Aequitas on (August 5, 2014, 15:55 GMT)

Lovely stats Andy, and many thanks for the correct ECB stats.

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (August 5, 2014, 15:54 GMT)

@TATTUs, Ballance played 1 test in Australia. Judging somebody on that is ludicrous.

Posted by TATTUs on (August 5, 2014, 9:23 GMT)

Garry Ballance was completely exposed in Australia. It[his success] just goes on to show the quality or lack of it when it comes to bowling in test cricket these days.

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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. 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 ESPNcricinfo.

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