ANDREW RADD: People can provide statistics for almost any event these days – you lucky things
Regular readers will confirm that this column is not averse to the occasional statistic or factoid.
For example, I was able to tell Ben Graves – following his knock of 66 for Durham MCCU against Durham at Chester-le-Street in the opening round of university matches – that he was the first left-handed former Oundle School captain to score a first-class half-century in England on Greenwich Mean Time since the First World War. But the current thirst for quantifying everything in sport is surely in danger of going a teeny bit too far.The recently-launched ‘Superstats’ programme – ‘a new language for numbers-based story-telling in cricket’ according to those behind it – includes a feature called ‘Luck Index’.I assume these metrics have been designed with the Indian Premier League (IPL) in mind. That probably means they’ll be used for another non-boat-floater: The hundred. Basically the index seeks to identify every ‘lucky’ event in a match and then use a complicated formula to give it a run-value.Thus you can identify which players and teams have derived most benefit from incidents including poor umpiring decisions (including batsmen dismissed off a no-ball), dropped catches and missed run-outs. Not forgetting misfields, overthrows, runs-off-the-edge and injuries.From all this we can deduce – apparently – that the Kolkata Knight Riders were the jammiest team in last year’s IPL with 349 ‘luck runs’, while the Rajasthan Royals only benefited to the tune of 163.It also tells us that Shane Watson was the luckiest batsman in the tournament and fellow Aussie Aaron Finch the unluckiest. I suppose it’s fine as a bit of fun to fill up a few seconds on TV when excitement levels dip slightly below all-out hysteria.But rest assured some geeks (yes I know – pot, kettle, black) will clog up social media with number-filled harangues to the effect that X, Y or Z isn’t worth the money his franchise paid for him because of his LI stats.On the basis that if you can’t beat them, join them, perhaps Northamptonshire Cricket League officials should consider a similar algorithm, tailor-made for our own Saturday afternoon cricket.For example, might the performance of a batsman or bowler be adversely affected by fretting over whether his handbrake will hold after parking on the bank at Finedon?To find the ‘AQ’ (that’s the Anxiety Quotient) you factor that in with the pulse rate after walking with a heavy cricket bag across the football field to the pavilion at Wollaston, multiplied by the number of times you lose your way en route to Stony Stratford.And what about the impact of batting or fielding first on the digestive habits of certain fast bowlers?One or two of my past acquaintance were not pleasant to field at mid-off or mid-on to after cheese and onion sandwiches featured on the tea-time menu.Maybe a ‘BPO’ Index – that’s ‘Burps Per Over’ – might usefully be incorporated in the end-of-season averages.Although it might need refining further to take account of beer consumption in the 24-hour period immediately before the start of play.The LI should also embrace those downright freakish incidents that crop up in the course of an average season.I well recall an Isham team-mate having what looked likely to prove a match-winning innings cut short when a short-leg fielder inadvertently trapped the ball in his left armpit while attempting to duck out of the way.All part-and-parcel of our game’s idiosyncratic charm.But the logical extension of the LI might possibly ring a few alarm bells in the corridors of cricketing power.As poor decisions are a key element in it, surely the information will soon be available to produce on-screen tables about which umpires make the most errors.Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favour of panel officials – at whatever level – being accountable for the calls they make, with the best umps getting the top matches.But at a time when DRS has already killed off the old idea that decisions should never be questioned, might we be opening up another can of worms?A question for MS Dhoni, perhaps. On second thoughts…
Next challenge – find snaps of all the players
I won’t pretend it wasn’t a proud moment when the Captains’ Wall was launched in the County Ground’s Spencer Pavilion during the opening Championship match against Middlesex.Not all of the 43 men up there were particularly talented cricketers.One of them – the 5th Earl of Rosslyn – played only three matches after accepting the appointment in 1891, deciding then that horse-racing would be more fun.He later served in the Boer War, gambled himself into bankruptcy and ended up treading the boards as ‘James Erskine’ to earn a living.None of the others really matched the Earl when it came to living life in the fast lane – although one or two weren’t slow in enjoying themselves away from the cricket pitch.But all of them answered their County’s call (some in hugely unpromising circumstances with the club at a low ebb) and so deserve our gratitude.As I mentioned three weeks ago, a trio of Northamptonshire skippers from the 19th century – Charles Thursby, Tommy Welch and Ted Scriven – do not have their pictures on the wall yet, but I’m exploring ‘leads’ on all of them, so fingers crossed.Next up is the more onerous task of finding images for all 519 (at time of writing) players to appear in first-class cricket for the County.I reckon we’re up to around 415. Some of the photos, needless to say, are better than others. And to be honest I’m not confident of finding all the remaining 100 or so.But a number of them played club cricket here in the county, so if you have a few old team photos in your pavilion – and know that someone on them had an outing in the County’s first-team way back when – please do get in touch.The ‘regulars’ who played 20 or more first-class matches are pretty well sorted. But Northamptonshire had its fair share of ‘occasionals’, especially in the pre-1939 seasons. All help much would be much appreciated.