Broaden Your Horizons

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A week or so ago, a newspaper correspondent when writing about England bowler Stuart Broad in the Test series against West Indies, scripted the following: “His 18 scalps would have been nine greater had catches been held”.

Where do I start to explain what’s wrong with this comment?

The naivety and lack of logic applied when pundits, commentators and journalists spout nonsense likes this seriously irks me. Can you tell?

I previously wrote the following post…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/score-assumptions-and-naivety-in-sport/

I’ll touch upon some of the same themes here. The football pundit at half-time saying that a football match where the score is 0-0 would be 3-0 to one of the teams had they not missed three clear cut chances. Yes it could be but remember that had said team scored their first opportunity then the next passage of play would have been a kick-off not a goal kick or continuation in play etc. The team that went 1-0 down might then have immediately (Or not immediately) gone up the other end, scored and gone on to lead 2-1 at half-time.

In the Broad case, had the first drop been held then the whole sequence of events afterwards would be different. Remember that by combining the dropped catches with actual events mythical wickets have been created. If five catches were dropped in the innings but the team were bowled out that’s fifteen wickets and that doesn’t add up. Maybe you’ve even shorn Broad of some of his later wickets. Possibly a right-hander was dropped and had he not been so, a left-hander would have arrived at the crease. From right-handers to left-handers and to a different batsman feeling just one iota more or less of pressure when looking at the scoreboard or facing a delivery, among many other altering intricacies… everything changes. Yes the pattern of the game may have played out similar to how it did, a procession of wickets for example but to imply that Broad would have had 27 wickets is incorrect. To say that he “could have had” is plausible but you’d be stripping other bowlers of wickets.

Maybe I’m struggling to get the point across but what I’m stressing is that one tiny, tiny difference in how things occurred can change the entire complexion of future proceedings. Had Broad claimed the first drop there would have been a different break in play to what actually occurred. The likelihood of Broad bowling exactly the same delivery the next ball is extremely and I mean extremely slim. The difference may be just a milmitere left or right, short or full but those measurements could, that’s could have effected the shot played by the batsman. The difference between the batsman who survived who then might, I say might have thrown caution to the wind and tried to hit a boundary next ball but the new batsman may, I repeat may have just defended would immediately change the course of play, even history.

You’re leaving work, the phone rings, you um and ah but eventually answer. When you’ve left work and get to the traffic lights you miss them by seconds and have to wait another round. Had you not answered the phone you would have made them or even made the previous turn. Later on your walk home a speeding car mounts the kerb and runs over your foot. You’re okay but off work for weeks and can’t play for your five-a-aside football team or attend pilates class. You wouldn’t have been run over if you hadn’t answered the phone or if you hadn’t waited a few seconds before doing so, or maybe you would but by another car or further up the road, or maybe something even worse (Or better) would have happened!

Before people express their naive thoughts in public they should remember that things aren’t always as simple as they seem and that sometimes you have to look at the broader (See what I did there?) picture.

Coffee, calm down, relax.

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