Perhaps numbers never do reveal the full story, but they tell a large part of it. Every Friday, The Numbers Game will take a look at statistics from the present and the past, busting myths and revealing hidden truths.
Kallis the run-machine
Most of the South African batsmen made merry against some rather innocuous West Indies bowling, but one player who cashed in more than the others was Jacques Kallis. As if scoring four hundreds in the four-Test series wasn't enough, Kallis went right ahead and thumped two more in the one-dayers, besides making an unbeaten 95. In all, Kallis raked up 1073 runs and was dismissed six times for an incredible average of 178.83. His average of 180.50 is the fifth-highest in the all-time list in an ODI series among batsmen who have scored at least 300 runs.
It wasn't the first time Kallis had demonstrated his machine-like run-scoring ability. In the last two-and-a-half years, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have been at the receiving end as well; against Zimbabwe
in 2001-02, Kallis amassed 388 runs in the Tests without being out, while Bangladesh failed to dismiss him in two Tests
, during which time Kallis piled up a further 214. (Kallis's Test average against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh is a staggering 390.50.)
His run-glut against West Indies took his Test average up by five points to 53.26, making his the seventh-highest Test average among current batsmen who have played at least 20 Tests. But Kallis's career stats
, while extremely impressive, is still highly skewed. More than half his runs have come in 30 Tests against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, India and West Indies, at an average close to 100. Against the rest (Australia, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka) he scores a more modest 34.76 per innings. It would be unfair to classify him only a plunderer of the meek - Kallis has performed consistently well against most opposition in the last few years, and averages 41 in Australia - but it's a record he must redress if he wants to counted among the great batsmen in Test history.
The injustice of day-night matches
South Africa's breathtaking run-chase at Johannesburg may have been the perfect riposte to Brian Lara's comments about day-night matches favouring the team bowling under lights, but statistics over the last three years back Lara's statement completely. Of the 200 ODIs played under lights since January 2001, 119 - that's 60% - have been won by the team batting first. As the table below shows, all teams have a more favourable win-loss ratio when setting a target. The contrast is most stark for West Indies, who have managed just one win in 11 tries when batting under lights. No wonder Lara is so keen to do away with day-night games.
Laxman's golden run ... as a catcher
VVS Laxman has had a golden summer with the bat in Australia, but his catching proficiency hasn't been far behind either. The catch he took to dismiss Ray Price against Zimbabwe at Perth was his 12th in the VB Series, making him the joint-highest catcher in a one-day series (excluding wicketkeepers). Allan Border and Jeremy Coney took as many catches, but required three more matches than Laxman.
Who gives a toss?
Adam Gilchrist, stand-in captain for Ricky Ponting in Australia's comfortable win against Zimbabwe at Perth, maintained his perfect record as captain - not only was it his sixth win in as many matches, it was also the sixth time he had lost the toss and then gone on to win, making him the only one to have a 0% win record in tosses and a 100% win result in matches. As the list below shows, six of the seven names are of captains who led outstanding teams. It is hardly surprising, then, that the toss hardly made a difference to them.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India.