August 20, 2005

Cricket almost derails a wedding.: A good read about suddenly and inexplicably falling in love with the game. Even the video of Harold Reynolds breaking down the differences between cricket and baseball swings is entertaining. What's up with the Ashes again?

posted by trox to other at 01:08 PM - 9 comments

It's an interesting piece, but for the point of getting a debate raging, the sidebar says: "Sir Donald Bradman: arguably the greatest cricket player of all time. Holds many records including a 99.94 average in test matches. It's like a .400 average in baseball." First off, "arguably"?? There's no argument. Donald Bradman may not have been an all-'rounder 'cos he wasn't a bowler, but so what? His test average so massively overwhelms everybody else, that nobody comes close. Check out the 5 highest average career test batters. The proof is in the numbers; Bradman is without peer. The guys numbered 2-5 have a difference of one run between them, around sixty, whilst Bradman averaged just a nip under 100. (In fact, if Bradman hadn't been bowled for a duck in his last ever appearance, when he only needed to score 3 runs for a career average of a century. Unthinkable.) The piece says his run-rate is like a .400 average in baseball. I would argue it's actually much higher than that. Sure, no MLB batter ever averaged .400 for a career. The highest ever MLB BA was Ty Cobb at .366 -- but make your way down through the top ten, and the #10 BA belongs to Babe Ruth with a .342 batting average. That's only .024 points less than Cobb, very small difference; whereas Bradman was clearly a good 60 per cent better than even his closest rival. Compared to the rest of the leaders, Bradman's career accomplishment is more like a career BA of .600 and averaging about 100 homeruns per year for an entire career. That's how dominant he was.

posted by the red terror at 04:27 PM on August 20

That wiki link is good. I like this line: Further evidence of his supreme athletic skills was revealed when Bradman missed the 1935-36 tour to South Africa due to illness. During his absence from cricket, Bradman took up squash to keep himself fit. He subsequently won the South Australian Open Squash Championship. That's scary..

posted by blarp at 07:20 PM on August 20

Excellent piece, Trox. I have spent a number of work trips in the sub continent and fortunately my own love of cricket was able to open plenty of conversations and doors. 'Learning cricket in India is like studying for the bar in a circus'. Classic. There's also an Anti Cricket Club of India, to which a fellow student from West Bengal belonged a number of years ago. Their point is that the obsession with cricket means everyone forgets about the issues of poverty, injustice and corruption. The student was a very good leg spinner, by the way.

posted by owlhouse at 01:01 AM on August 21

How sick could Bradman have been if he could spend the time playing squash?

posted by billsaysthis at 02:10 PM on August 21

I'm just trying to brush up as I'm considering tagging along with a kiwi friend to the next cricket world cup. Any further help from our resident cricket aficianados would be welcome (I believe JJ has posted a few cricket links).

posted by trox at 09:27 PM on August 21

Get your tickets now before all those Poms on package tours arrive in the Caribbean. The grounds aren't very big, you know. Instead of Australia v India you could end up watching Ireland v Bermuda.

posted by owlhouse at 11:30 PM on August 21

By the way, stating a desire to see the best one day side (Australia) play next year should provoke outrage in your Kiwi friend. Sit back and watch.

posted by owlhouse at 11:36 PM on August 21

OK, is it officially time to petition for a cricket category? Anyway, as to what's up with the Ashes, they're on a break, with the women resuming Wednesday and the men Thursday (another of cricket's odd traditions--men's Tests in England always start on a Thursday).

posted by silverpie at 06:25 PM on August 22

Nice piece. It's odd to think of second-generation south-Asian-Americans not having cricket in the blood. How sick could Bradman have been if he could spend the time playing squash? Appendicitis followed by peritonitis, diagnosed after winning the Ashes in England. And it's not quite true: he took up squash a couple of years later. (Remember that tours were more like expeditions in those days: you got on a ship, sailed off, and came back months later. The trip from Australia to England for an Ashes series took four weeks; the trip to South Africa took two.) Anyway, batting average in cricket really doesn't mean the same as that in baseball. It means a lot more. Bradman's 99.94 is like .400 and DiMaggio's hitting streak rolled into one. You can wonder whether he'd have kept it up in the modern era, with its heavier schedule -- but given that he lost more than five good years of his career to WW2, I suspect so.

posted by etagloh at 04:21 AM on August 23

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