Beautiful 9s and gruesome feet

17 12 2011

The statistician in me would love for Test Cricket to be deemed illegal in Sri Lanka. The numerical beauty of Mahela Jayawardene ending his career on 9999 runs would make me weak at the knees – finally someone could outdo The Don in terms of mathematical craziness.

Watching the mismatch between the Lankans and South Africa, something stood out for me: Virender Sehwag has competition for the flat track bully of the generation award. Thilan Samaraweera and Kumar Sangakarra batted like fish – with no leg movement. Their natural talent means they can rack up big scores on pancake pitches, but with the ball moving around, they looked like they had walked into quicksand – flailing, but only with their upper bodies.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect these two for the heights they’ve got to in their careers, and I particularly rate Kumar Sangakarra for his ability to rack up huge scores. They have developed a game perfectly suited to their home conditions, noone can deny that. However, they definitely did not look like 50+ averaging batsmen today. Maybe they were just having an off day, but in my opinion they let the reputations of South Africa’s bowlers get to their heads.

What their stats do tell me, however, is that they are too good to let these performances get them down. They will bounce back, and they will bounce back higher than Morne Morkel’s arm when he bowls on the top of the Eiffel Tower. Kumar Sangakarra is a legend of the Sri Lankan game and Thilan Samaraweera is the underrated name who is better than people realise. These two have had high-quality careers and this is just a slight bit of oversteer in their cricketing roadtrips. I fully expect them to pull the car back under control soon.

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