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Michael Jones
Thursday , December 26, 2013

Ashes: Don't panic, England


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Although Australia have played very well in the first three Tests of the return Ashes series, there can be no hiding the fact that England have been utterly dismal; brief periods of competitiveness have been interspersed among whole days of inadequacy. The natural reaction to such poor performance - in any sphere of human endeavour - is to identify those responsible, remove them from their positions and expect that their replacements will do better. A political party heavily defeated in an election may change its leader; the headteacher of a school judged to be failing is likely to be out of a job soon afterwards. Such replacements are often made on impulse - they will be taken as evidence that a determined effort is being made to improve, whereas leaving the same people in their positions will be construed to be treating the poor performance as acceptable. Thus it is....


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The number 11 who averaged 100


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Very few batsmen have averaged over 100 in a full English season; it requires an outstanding run of form to be maintained over the whole summer. Don Bradman missed out on his first two tours of England, before finally becoming the first to the milestone with 2429 runs on the 1938 tour, at an average of 115.66 - a record which still stands. Even Denis Compton, in his golden summer of 1947, scored his 3816 runs at an average of 'only' 90.85. Geoff Boycott achieved the feat in 1971 and repeated it in 1979, then Graham Gooch added his name to the list in the 'summer of the bat' in 1990. Mark Ramprakash, enjoying a renaissance after his move from Middlesex to Surrey, became the first to do it in two consecutive seasons (2006 and 2007); in 2012 Nick Compton came agonisingly close, finishing with an average of 99.60 when....


Tuesday , September 10, 2013

When 642 was not enough


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Some of the most dramatic turnarounds in cricket history have been orchestrated by the greatest names in the game on its biggest stage, changing the course of a Test series: Ian Botham's assault at Headingley turned the 1981 Ashes on its head, then twenty years later VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid ground Australia into the Kolkata dust as India won the series from 1-0 down and a first innings deficit of 274. Others, though, have taken place away for the limelight, been little noticed at the time and largely forgotten since. One of the most unlikely comebacks in a first-class match occurred towards the end of the 2004 English season, with no consequence beyond helping one team's push for promotion and consigning the other to a further season in the second division. When Glamorgan travelled to Chelmsford that September, they occupied third place in the division, but with three....


Thursday , September 05, 2013

Time to review the ICC's neutral umpires policy


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The ICC's Elite Panel of umpires is a fine idea in theory: select the umpires for each Test from a list of twelve, each of whom has risen through the ranks to be appointed to that level, and who are continually monitored so a below par performance on the field may see them relegated from the panel, while others at lower levels have the opportunity to be promoted. In practice, however, it suffers from one major flaw: the requirement that neither of the two on-field umpires, nor the TV umpire, may be from either of the countries involved in the match. This would be less of a problem if the umpires on the panel were more evenly distributed around the Test-playing countries, so that only two or three of them would be barred from standing in a particular series. As it is, four of the twelve (Ian Gould, Nigel....


Sunday , July 07, 2013

Farewell to the Phantom, Chris Martin


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Chris Martin bows out of international cricket, having held New Zealand's seam attack together for the decade following the retirement of Chris Cairns. Since making his debut against South Africa in 2000, Martin has picked up 233 Test wickets, while no other seamer from the country has managed even 100 over the same period. His achievements with the ball, however, were largely overshadowed by the facet of his game which endeared him to neutral fans the world over: his sheer ineptness with the bat. The sight of Martin walking to the crease was always a sign to opposing bowlers that an easy wicket was on the cards, and to the opening batsmen that they would soon be required to pad up. That he finished with an average as high as 2.36 was primarily due to remaining not out in exactly half his innings (his partners usually assumed that....


Friday , May 17, 2013

John Traicos: A career of two halves


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Wisden called him "the man who came from two countries, and played for two others", and his career was certainly one of the more unusual in the annals of cricket history. John Traicos was born to Greek parents on May 17, 1947 in Zagazig, a town on the Nile Delta northeast of Cairo - better known for its ancient ruins than as a breeding ground for international cricketers. A year later his family moved to Rhodesia, at the time a partially autonomous British colony; although it had earlier voted against becoming a province of South Africa, it retained a team in the Currie Cup. He grew up following the South Africa side of the 1950s, with Jackie McGlew, Trevor Goddard, Peter Heine, Neil Adcock and Hugh Tayfield - but recalled putting his partisanship to one side to appreciate the performances of Richie Benaud on Australia's 1957-58 tour, when....


Saturday , May 11, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar, Kevin Bacon and Paul Erdos


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An extension of Erdos and Bacon numbers is the combination of the two: a person's "Erdos-Bacon number" is the sum of their Erdos number and Bacon number. To possess a finite such a number, the individual in question must have both a chain of research papers linking them to Erdos, and a chain of films linking them to Bacon; numerous scientists and mathematicians have appeared in films, and a handful of actors have collaborated on scientific papers, so there are quite a number of people with both. What about Bacon-Tendulkar numbers? Plenty of cricketers have appeared in films, so there are likely to be some with both numbers defined. For a start, Tendulkar himself appeared in Stumped (2003) alongside Alyy Khan, who appeared in A Mighty Heart (2007) alongside Demetri Goritsas, who appeared in X-Men: First Class (2011) alongside Kevin Bacon. Thus Tendulkar's Bacon number is 3, and since....


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Six degrees of separation ... from Tendulkar


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Given a group of people, some of whom are connected in a particular way, a natural question to ask is: how many links does it take to connect any person to any other, or to a specified 'base' person? Mathematics has the "Erdos number": someone has an Erdos number of 1 if they co-wrote a research paper with Paul Erdos, 2 if they didn't write one with Erdos but did write one with someone else who wrote one with him, and so on. Cinema has the similarly defined "Bacon number": someone with a Bacon number of 1 appeared in a film alongside Kevin Bacon, someone with a Bacon number of 2 appeared alongside someone who appeared alongside Bacon. What if we consider a similar concept for cricket? Erdos and Bacon were chosen as the 'base' individuals for their respective disciplines because they had a large number of connections:....


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Six degrees of separation … from Tendulkar


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Given a group of people, some of whom are connected in a particular way, a natural question to ask is: how many links does it take to connect any person to any other, or to a specified 'base' person? Mathematics has the "Erdos number": someone has an Erdos number of 1 if they co-wrote a research paper with Paul Erdos, 2 if they didn't write one with Erdos but did write one with someone else who wrote one with him, and so on. Cinema has the similarly defined "Bacon number": someone with a Bacon number of 1 appeared in a film alongside Kevin Bacon, someone with a Bacon number of 2 appeared alongside someone who appeared alongside Bacon. What if we consider a similar concept for cricket? Erdos and Bacon were chosen as the 'base' individuals for their respective disciplines because they had a large number of connections:....


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Six degrees of separation … from Tendulkar


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Given a group of people, some of whom are connected in a particular way, a natural question to ask is: how many links does it take to connect any person to any other, or to a specified 'base' person? Mathematics has the "Erdos number": someone has an Erdos number of 1 if they co-wrote a research paper with Paul Erdos, 2 if they didn't write one with Erdos but did write one with someone else who wrote one with him, and so on. Cinema has the similarly defined "Bacon number": someone with a Bacon number of 1 appeared in a film alongside Kevin Bacon, someone with a Bacon number of 2 appeared alongside someone who appeared alongside Bacon. What if we consider a similar concept for cricket? Erdos and Bacon were chosen as the 'base' individuals for their respective disciplines because they had a large number of connections:....


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