a minor non-googleable question

Yes, it’s about cricket. I noticed that the current Indian team has made 109 Test centuries between them. Last time around, in the first Test versus Australia, the inclusion of Kumble drove that number up to 110. [Oddly enough, Kumble has scored the same number of Test centuries as Dhoni!]

Now that’s a big number, it isn’t often that a team boasts a century of centuries. To put it in context, the current Australian team’s comparative number is 86. I went and looked at the team under Steve Waugh, at a time when it boasted Justin Langer, Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Damien Martyn. When I look at the lifetime totals for that group (which also included Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath) the number exceeds 170. But when I try and find the highest total as an actual team in an actual Test, the best I can do is 91, in October 2002, versus Pakistan in Sharjah.  I think that’s the biggest, the others just didn’t score centuries quickly enough to afford the exits of the Waugh brothers.

Very unscientific, very anecdotal. But the number to beat is 110. As in the total number of Test centuries scored by a Test team as constituted in a real Test and only including efforts up to and including that Test.

Any offers? Enjoy your weekend trying to get to a Nelson or beyond.

An aside. Imagine what you would need from Cricinfo in terms of database access or web service or RSS feed, such that you could write a program that could work out the answer. Let me know your thoughts.

Bridled optimism

Cricket: Just getting back into the swing of things after a truly lazy vacation, I noticed that a reader (named Murali!), in a recent comment, asked me what I thought about the recent Indian “collapse” in the first ODI versus Sri Lanka. Once I realised that the match had taken place in Dambulla, I became less concerned about the result. Here’s why, as told by Cricinfo:

Over the last 10 years, the team batting first has scored less than 200 runs more often than not, 12 times out of 21. Eight different teams have managed to “achieve” this, and they lost 9 times out of 12. The Indian total of 146, therefore, does not represent as abject a collapse as it would appear on the surface, despite the magic and mystique wielded by the spin pair of Mendis and Muralitharan.

So I will follow the next game with bridled optimism, even though I hear Sehwag has gone and gotten himself injured.

There was a separate comment made about the “carrom ball”, where Mendis’s action has been compared to that of John Gleeson. I never saw Gleeson play; when he visited India with the Australians in 1969, he didn’t play in the Calcutta Test. With his unusual action, Mendis is sure difficult to read; sometimes I get the impression that even Mendis doesn’t know what the ball is going to do when it leaves his hand. But batsmen can take heart from the Australian tour of South Africa with Gleeson. Nobody could read Gleeson either…except for a young Barry Richards, who didn’t care, and who never became one of Gleeson’s victims.

At sixes and sevens

Lazily scanning the cricket scores, I noticed that Yuvraj Singh had hit 13 “sixes” in his 121-ball innings of 172 versus a Sri Lankan XI.

So that got me thinking. Surely that must be a record in 50-over cricket? Then I read on, and found the answer.

Apparently, Yuvraj does not hold the record. Last year, Namibia’s Gary Snyman hit 17 sixes against UAE.

Now how did I miss that? I wonder. UAE. Namibia. First-class cricket. I wonder.

Murali lets the side down

[Yes, it’s a cricket post. Apologies to those not yet afflicted.]

Twenty20. The IPL. Darrell Hair. Sreesanth, Harbhajan, Collingwood, de Villiers. The Ponting bat. Jelly babies. The Pietersen stroke. Difficult times for cricket lovers? Not really. Aficionados know that the ideals of the game never change: they know what’s cricket and what’s not cricket. Humans are fallible, especially under pressure. Cricket is bigger than that.

One of the things that cricket is about is statistics. The more esoteric and offbeat the better. In cricket, when the going gets tough, it’s time for the tough to get going on completely useless statistics. So here’s one for you.

Test number 1869. West Indies versus Sri Lanka. Providence Stadium, Guyana, 22-26 March 2008. A match famous for this sequence: MG BSM KC DPMD TT TM HAPW WPUJC MTT HMRKB M.

M? Yup, he’s the one who lets the side down. Good old Muttiah Muralitharan, Test cricket’s highest ever wicket taker, has no other initial but that solitary M.

Otherwise Test number 1869 may prove very hard to beat, with the Sri Lankan team average of 3 initials per player.

Any improvements?

Covering all your bases

First, an apology. I have this thing about cricket, and while some of you may like it, I realise it means nothing to others, and for that I apologise. I guess I tend to write “long tail”, with different posts being of interest to different small groups.

Now cricket people tend to know very little about baseball. If you asked a budding Bill Frindall what Tinker to Evers to Chance meant to him, you’d probably be met with a blank look. Baseball’s Sad Lexicon is not part of the traditional cricket aficionado’s vocabulary.

There are some things, however, that don’t need such lexical power for their enjoyment. Things like Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First routine. I’d heard of it a long time ago, even read the script, but for some reason never actually heard it. Then, at reboot this year, Dan Gillmor made sure I didn’t miss out. [Thanks, Dan!].

Coincidentally, Tom Raftery made a passing tweet about the same thing today, as a result of which I found a video version.

If comedy routines were chillies, this one would be a naga jolokia.

If you’re a cricket fan, see how the other side laugh. If you’re a baseball fan, get your own back. If you’re neither, sit back and relax anyway. One way or the other, watch it. It’s too good to miss.

And if you’ve seen it before, I can’t see you not seeing it again….can you?