The week in numbers: w/e 12/2/12

Drogba missed a penalty in the final again

0Ivory Coast failed to win the Africa Cup of Nations despite not conceding a single goal in the entire tournament. Zambia beat them 8-7 on penalties after the teams played out a goalless draw in last night’s final.

3 – All three finals in which Ivory Coast have played have gone to a penalty shootout after finishing 0-0. They won the final in 1992 and lost in 2006.

2Didier Drogba missed a penalty in normal time. The Ivory Coast striker also missed from the spot in the 2006 final.

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The week in numbers: w/e 27/11/11

Gary Speed, 1969-2011. RIP (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

42 – Age of Gary Speed, the Wales manager and former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder, who hanged himself at his own home at the weekend. Speed made nearly 700 appearances for his various clubs, was the first man to play in 500 Premier League games and was capped 85 times for Wales, more than any other outfield player. Appointed manager of his country in December last year, he won five of his ten games in charge, including four of the last five. He is survived by a wife and two sons.

2 – In the third Test in Mumbai, India and the West Indies played out only the second ever match (in 2,019 completed Tests) to finish as a draw with the scores level (also Zimbabwe vs England, 1996). Ravichandran Ashwin, who had scored 103 in India’s first innings, was run out attempting what would have been a winning second run on the final ball of the match as India finished on 242/9 after being set 243 for victory. (There have also been two tied Tests, where both teams completed both their innings with their total scores equal.)

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England vs India in numbers

No matter what the sport, England teams seem to specialise in being good but not quite good enough. In my lifeftime, I can count the number of times that England can justifiably claim to be top dogs rather than underdogs on the fingers of one hand. Having been born four years after England’s football World Cup triumph, there is the 2003 rugby union World Cup and the 2010 cricket World Twenty20. And that, as far as the major team sports are concerned, is that. Britain has had – and continues to boast – its fair share of world/Olympic champions and world-class practitioners in individual events: Sebastian Coe, Daley Thompson, Jessica Ennis, Ben Ainslie, Lennox Lewis, Nigel Mansell, Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish to name but a few. But when it comes to putting eleven (or six, or 15, or whatever other number) athletes together against the league of nations, the cupboard has remained steadfastly bare.

However, England’s remarkable 12-month rise from fifth to first in the Test rankings was confirmed with victory at Edgbaston two weeks ago and underlined emphatically with a second successive innings victory at The Oval yesterday, completing a 4-0 whitewash over the former world leaders India. Defending that top ranking will be difficult – indeed South Africa have the opportunity to jump into top spot before England before play again in Sri Lanka next March – but that does not diminish the cause for celebration or the pride I feel in a team which for so many years has wallowed in mediocrity (and sometimes worse).

Here is the story of how England displaced India as the number one Test side in the world – in numbers. (For a more comprehensive view on what this series win means to England cricket fans, read Chris’s post here.)

The series in numbers

First Test, Lord’s (July 21st-25th): England 474/8 dec (Pietersen 202*, Kumar 5/106) & 269/6 dec (Prior 103*, Sharma 4/59) beat India 286 (Dravid 103, Broad 4/37) & 261 (Raina 78, Anderson 5/65) by 196 runs.

Second Test, Trent Bridge (July 29th-August 1st): England 221 (Broad 64, Kumar 3/45) and 544 (Bell 159, Kumar 4/124) beat India 288 (Dravid 117, Broad 6/46) & 158 (Tendulkar 56, Bresnan 5/48) by 319 runs.

Third Test, Edgbaston (August 10th-13th): England 710/7 dec (Cook 294, Morgan 104) beat India 224 (Dhoni 74, Broad 4/53, Bresnan 4/62) & 244 (Dhoni 74*, Anderson 4/85) by an innings and 242 runs.

Fourth Test, The Oval (August 18th-22nd): England 591/6 dec (Bell 235, Pietersen 175) beat India 300 (Dravid 146) & 283 (Tendulkar 91, Swann 6/106) by an innings and 8 runs.

The teams in numbers

4 – England posted the four highest innings totals in the series, passing 450 on each occasion.

1 – Conversely, India scored 300 only once in their eight innings – recording exactly 300 in the opening innings of the final Test, after which they were still forced to follow on.

710 – Highest innings score (for 7 declared), by England in the 3rd Test at Edgbaston. It was their third-highest Test total ever, and their highest against India.

158 – Lowest innings total, by India in the 2nd Test at Trent Bridge.

80 – England claimed all 80 Indian wickets during the series, versus just 47 for India.

2 – Number of times which India bowled England out (in both innings at Trent Bridge). England declared four times and only needed their second innings twice.

3 – India‘s margin of defeat in the third Test (an innings and 242 runs) was their third-worst ever.

Batting in numbers

Pietersen was the leading batsman in the series

6– Despite batting two times fewer (six innings versus eight), England had seven of the top ten run-scorers in the series.

5 – England batsmen posted the five highest individual scores of the series – one by Alastair Cook, and two each by Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell. All three recorded double centuries.

533 – Pietersen was the leading run-scorer in the series, with 533 runs at an average of 106.60.

294Cook had the highest individual score of the series, 294 at Edgbaston. As a team, India exceeded this total just once.

461 – Rahul Dravid was India’s top batsman with 461 runs, at an average of 76.83.

Dravid was India's only centurion, scoring a series-leading three

3Dravid was India’s only century-maker, registering tons in the first, third and fourth Tests.

3 – Dravid also became only the third Indian batsman to carry his bat in a Test innings (after Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar), scoring an unbeaten 146 in India’s first innings at The Oval. He had to come straight back out again as England enforced the follow-on.

7 – England batsmen recorded seven centuries to India’s three.

3 – Number of England batsmen who scored at least 300 runs in the series (Pietersen, Bell, Cook) versus just one for India (Dravid).

8 – Number of batsmen who averaged 40 or more in the series. With the exception of Dravid, all were English.

350 – The third wicket stand of 350 between Bell and Pietersen at The Oval was the highest partnership of the series.

12 – There were 12 century partnerships during the series, 10 of them by English batsmen.

34.12 – Batting average of Sachin Tendulkar, well below his career average of 56.25. He fell nine runs short of what would have been his 100th international century at The Oval.

59.76 – England’s average runs per wicket during the series, more than double India’s average of 25.55.

70 Pietersen scored more boundaries than any other batsman in the series (68 fours, two sixes).

3 – Eoin Morgan was dismissed for a third-ball duck in England’s first innings of both the first and second Tests. He made up for it by scoring a century in the first innings of the third Test, however.

2 – Virender Sehwag recorded a king pair at Edgbaston – out first ball in both innings.

Bowling in numbers

Broad was the top wicket-taker and also claimed a hat-trick

25 – Number of wickets taken by Stuart Broad, the most on either side, and ten more than the leading Indian Praveen Kumar. (Broad also added 182 runs with the bat.)

6 – Number of bowlers who took 10 or more wickets in the series. Four were English, including the top two wicket-takers, Broad and Tim Bresnan (16).

5 – Number of times a bowler took at least five wickets in an innings. Four of these were by an English bowler (Broad, Bresnan, Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Swann).

2 – Bowlers captured six wickets in a single innings on two occasions, both Englishmen: Broad and Swann.

Kumar averaged better than a wicket every five overs

1 – Hat-tricks in the series, by Broad at Trent Bridge. It was the first time a bowler has ever taken a hat-trick in a Test against India.

29.5Kumar took a wicket every 29.5 balls, the best strike rate among regular bowlers in the series. Bresnan and Broad were not far behind, with impressive strike rates of a wicket every 34.3 and 36.3 balls respectively.

3 – Three of England’s bowlers (Bresnan, Broad, Anderson) averaged fewer than 30 runs per wicket. Only one Indian (Kumar) did.

58.18 – Other than Kumar, among India’s specialist bowlers Ishant Sharma had the second-best bowling average – his 11 wickets cost a whopping 58.18 runs apiece.

143.5Harbhajan Singh, for so long India’s primary spin threat, took just two wickets in his two matches at an average of 143.5.

And finally, a few other numbers

Prior took 16 catches and added a hundred with the bat

1 – England are now the number one country in Test cricket.

5 – England’s ranking 12 months ago.

17 – England wicketkeeper Matt Prior claimed 17 dismissals in the series (16 catches, one stumping). His counterpart M S Dhoni took 13 catches.

5Cook and Andrew Strauss led among other fielders with five catches each.

11 – India have now lost 11 out of 16 Tests at Lord’s.

7 – England’s 4-0 victory marks only the seventh time in their history they have won a series by four matches or more.

6 – This was India’s sixth series defeat by four or more matches, and their first since their tour of Australia in 1991/92.

The week in numbers: w/e 21/8/11

Bell scored a Test best 235

350 – Third wicket partnership between Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell in the 4th Test, an England record stand for any wicket against India, and their seventh largest against any Test opponent. Bell went on to record his highest Test score of 235, Pietersen 175.

31 – Century partnerships in Tests by England batsmen in the past 12 months. India (16) are the only other nation in double figures.

300India‘s first innings total of 300 marked the first time in seven attempts in this series that they have reached this milestone. England have been bowled out for less than 300 just once.

3 – Opener Rahul Dravid scored 146 not out in India’s first innings, making him only the third Indian batsman to carry his bat in a Test innings (Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar).

Djokovic lost for only the second time in 2011

2 – World number one Novak Djokovic retired with a shoulder injury when a set and 3-0 down to Andy Murray in the final of the Cincinnati Masters. It was only his second defeat in 59 matches in 2011. (His only other loss this year was to Roger Federer in the semi-final of the French Open.)

7Sébastien Ogier won the Rally Germany to end Citroën teammate Sébastien Loeb‘s 7-year unbeaten run on all-tarmac rallies. Loeb, who finished second, had also won the last eight editions of the German event.

1 – Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee defended his Sprint World Championships title in Lausanne, beating older brother Alistair in a major event for the first time. However Alistair remains ahead of his younger brother at the top of the rankings which determine the overall world title.

10 – 2009 women’s British Open winner Catriona Matthew won the Scottish Open by ten strokes at the Archerfield Links in East Lothian. She lives five minutes away from the course.

10 – Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes took 10/123 – including 7/20 in the first innings – in the drawn County Championship game with Hampshire at Edgbaston.

The Premier league in numbers

10Arsenal‘s 2-0 defeat by Liverpool was the first time in 10 years they have lost their first home game (Leeds, August 2001). That season they went on to win the League and FA Cup double.

42 – It is the first time in 42 years that Arsenal have failed to score in their first two league games.

Long scored WBA's first ever goal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League

6 – West Bromwich Albion‘s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea means they have now lost on all six of their Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge. Shane Long‘s strike at least marked their first goal in this fixture.

23Sunderland‘s 1-0 loss to Newcastle means they have now failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 23 meetings with their neighbours.

4Everton‘s 1-0 defeat at home to QPR marked the fourth straight season in which they have lost their opening league match.

5Manchester City‘s 3-2 win at Bolton was their fifth successive Premier League win (dating back to last season). It is only the second time they have achieved this feat.

5 – Bolton’s Kevin Davies was one of five English league players sharing the same surname to score last weekend – the others were Steve and Ben Davies of Derby, Arron Davies of Northampton and Scott Davies of Crawley.

94Kenwyne Jones‘s equaliser in Stoke‘s 1-1 draw at Norwich came in the 94th minute.

6Aston Villa‘s 3-1 win over Blackburn marked the sixth time in the space of just 20 months (in all competitions) they have scored three or more times in a game against these opponents.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times, StatManJon and Infostrada.)

Dhoni’s sporting gesture shows letter of the law just isn’t cricket

Dhoni's gracious reversal will have won him many friends

The simple facts from yesterday are these: England batsman Ian Bell was given run out to the last ball before tea in controversial circumstances, only to be reinstated upon the resumption of play courtesy of a grand sporting gesture by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team. It was one of the strangest incidents ever seen at a Test match, underlining the fact that the rule-makers in any sport cannot hope to cover every eventuality and that there remains scope for sportsmanship and ‘doing the right thing’ in modern sport.

The third day of an absorbing second Test began with England still trailing by 43 runs with nine second innings wickets remaining. However, by the end of the afternoon session Bell had crafted a classy 137 on a pitch which had lost some of its initial bite but was nonetheless far from easy. With the tea break looming, Eoin Morgan tucked the final ball of the session off his legs and the batsmen ran three as Praveen Kumar made an ungainly attempt to stop the ball on the boundary edge. The fielder rolled over the rope, recovered the ball and casually tossed it back to the wicket, unsure whether he had successfully prevented a four. Bell, believing play to have been called dead, strolled off towards the dressing room in anticipation of a nice crustless sandwich and a revitalising cup of Earl Grey (or whatever it is that modern cricketers do during the tea break). Meanwhile India whipped off the bails and, after a brief discussion between on-field umpires Marais Erasmus and Asad Rauf and third umpire Billy Bowden, Bell was given run out.

Bell's small error ignited a huge debate

A bemused Bell was already at the boundary edge before he realised what had happened, protesting that he thought the umpire had called “over”. India left the field to a chorus of boos from large sections of the partisan Trent Bridge crowd.

During the break England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower visited the Indian dressing room to ask them to reconsider. Dhoni, after asking for a few minutes to consult with his team, quickly agreed to withdraw their appeal and Bell was reinstated. Given what was at stake, it was a grand gesture of sportsmanship and not one which Dhoni in any way needed to make.

England’s record in similar circumstances is hardly unblemished. In 2008, New Zealand’s Grant Elliott was run out after colliding with Ryan Sidebottom, who had stepped into his path. Paul Collingwood refused to withdraw his appeal to reprieve the bastman in a display of a win-at-all-costs mentality over the spirit of the game which diminished both him and his team.

More than just another wicket

Had the decision stood – and India were fully entitled by the letter of cricket’s laws to stand by their appeal – it could have been a pivotal moment with far-reaching implications.

In the context of this match, despite starting the day on top India had been on the back foot throughout as England’s batsmen gained the upper hand. By tea, they were in desperate need of wickets and short of ideas as to how to take them, with Bell in imperious form as England threatened to build a potentially match-winning lead. The ‘dismissal’ came at a pivotal point in the game. Had it stood England would have been 254/4, a lead of just 187 and effectively five wickets down with the injured Jonathan Trott barely able to hold a bat. With their tails up, India could have been looking at a fourth innings target of under 250 to square the series. Instead, Bell and Eoin Morgan put on a further 69 runs after tea before Bell was finally dismissed for 159, by which time England were firmly in command. They resume this morning on 441/6, a lead of 374, with every chance of taking a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

Looking at the bigger picture, there is also more at stake here than a morale-boosting series win over the world’s top-ranked team. Victory by two clear games would propel England into the number one position – a prospect which would have become a distinct improbability if they were to lose this Test. Momentum is everything in a Test series, and Bell’s reprieve has allowed England to continue building theirs.

A victory for sportsmanship?

Debate raged around the world both during the tea interval and afterwards – you will find acres of coverage elsewhere online – but to my eye everyone involved did exactly the right thing.

Bell himself admitted that he had been silly in not waiting for confirmation of the end of the over:

I take some of the blame. To walk off was very naive, a bit stupid.

Looking back, it was probably a bit naive on my part to automatically walk off but the right decision has been made for the good of the game. I put my bat down after the third run and it looked like we were just meandering off for tea.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons. I won’t ever do that again.

It was indeed naive, but in many ways an understandable lapse of concentration from a batsman who had already spent four hours at the crease on a hot summer’s day. Watching the replay, Praveen’s body language on the boundary suggested he considered the ball to be dead, as did that of most of the Indian fielders. Only a handful of players appeared to be live to the danger including Morgan, who took care to ground his bat at the non-striker’s end and waved a warning to Bell to stay at his end which his partner ignored.

India were correct to complete the run out first and debate the moral issues later. It was the cricketing equivalent of playing to the whistle. Rahul Dravid later explained what had happened in the Indian dressing room:

We didn’t feel right after coming back at tea.

It was lucky we had tea at that stage. Everyone was discussing the events and once we looked at it on television, we knew it didn’t feel right and we wanted to try and correct that. There was unanimity over our decision.

And the umpires were also right to apply the letter of the law to the incident. That is their job, as opposed to sitting in moral judgement over grey areas.

Former Indian great Sunil Gavaskar summed up the general consensus on BBC 5Live when he said:

I have to congratulate Dhoni for what he did. Dhoni kept to the spirit of the game, and I think it’s so important in this day and age to keep the right spirit.

I think if there were more captains like Dhoni you could get back to the days of the phrase, “It’s just not cricket.” He’s set an example for the other captains.

If only …

Dhoni was indeed fortunate that he had the tea interval in which to repair a sporting ‘wrong’ – although, of course, the incident only occurred because Bell had mistakenly thought the umpires had called for tea. And I’m not saying that this series has been played throughout in a spirit of back-slapping camaraderie. It hasn’t, as we have seen the usual acts of gamesmanship – batsmen refusing to walk until given out, fielders making spurious appeals – just as we do in any other modern Test series. But when it really mattered and the spirit of the game was called into question, Dhoni and his team made a wonderful gesture regardless of the ultimate stakes which should be thoroughly applauded.

It is something we regularly see in other sports such as golf and snooker, where players regularly point out their own inadvertent errors to match officials. Sadly, in many others, that is categorically not the case, particularly when the stakes are high.

Compare what happened yesterday with the World Cup qualifying play-off between France and the Republic of Ireland in November 2009. Thierry Henry, widely regarded as one of the game’s more gentlemanly figures, clearly and deliberately used his hand to control the ball in setting up the goal which put the French into the 2010 World Cup finals. The officials did not spot the infringement, Henry did not see fit to point out his offence, and a great opportunity to prove that sportsmanship still exists in football went begging. Okay, the situation was different insofar that Henry had only a matter of seconds to consider his actions before play resumed. And, in fairness, there are some examples of great sporting acts in football (Paolo di Canio catching the ball when poised to score past Everton’s injured Paul Gerrard, Arsenal agreeing to replay an FA Cup game against Sheffield United, teams allowing their opponents to score unobstructed to nullify an injustice, say).

Nonetheless other sports and sportsmen could take a leaf out of M S Dhoni’s book, rather than point to the laws of the game or say that it is up to officials to make the right decisions on their behalf. No matter what the sport or the circumstances, hiding behind the letter of the law just isn’t cricket.

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