Sachin Tendulkar is surely cricket's greatest batsman of the past twenty years, and maybe (in competition with Vivian Richards) the best of my lifetime. His genius, longevity and durability have given him records that may prove impossible to break. But the farcical pursuit of his "100th international hundred", which climaxed at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, Mirpur yesterday, is a blight that his illustrious legacy can do without.
When it comes to stats and trivia about cricket, I've been hooked since I was a teenager. It's easy to get seduced by the numbers and the mathematical comparisons, but I figure it's ok so long as the sport itself remains more important. I draw a line, however, when statistical "milestones" become playthings of the media industry, a raison d'etre of the sports desk at the 24/7 news outlet, the honeytrap for mindless SMS fodder.
"Of all the world-class swimmers who have competed for Stanford, Michael McLean ranked among the best. In four events, the 2006 graduate's times were among the 15 fastest ever recorded at the school. But you'd never know it by looking at the Stanford media guide. Coach Skip Kenney expunged McLean from the team's record book after he and the swimmer had a falling-out."
The San Francisco Chronicle takes up the story.
I was saddened to read the other day of the passing of Irving Rosenwater on January 30 at the age of 73.
Rosenwater was a noted statistician and historian on our game, and one of a handful to have become a recognisable name to the wider cricketing community. He was the scorer for BBC Television's cricket telecasts in the 1970s until he succumbed in 1977 to the twin temptations of Australian sunshine and the Packer dollar, becoming the official scorer for Channel 9's World Series Cricket coverage. He stayed with Nine into the 1980s as I recall.
McGrath bowls around the wicket to Lara. A short ball, waist-high, angled across the left-handed batsman, Lara exposes his leg stump as he pulls to deep backward square for a single. He is 214 not out. The crowd rises to give Lara a standing ovation. Lara waves his bat in the air, the Australian players come over to congratulate him. He has passed Allan Border to become the highest run-scorer in Test cricket.
The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians will be recording January 10's ICC World XI v ACC XI match in Melbourne, and the yet-to-be-rescheduled rematch, as official one-day internationals in accordance with the ICC's wishes. The ACS committee discussed the matter at their latest meeting on Saturday, and their ruling was emailed to association members (including myself) yesterday.
The decision, forwarded to members in the name of ACS treasurer Jerry Lodge, reads as follows:
"At the ACS Committee Meeting on Saturday 29 January 2005 the Committee unanimously agreed the following action.
1. To accept the ICC ruling that the two tsunami matches be classified as official ODI matches. Therefore all performances in these matches will be included in the statistics prepared and circulated by the Association.
2. To write to the ICC expressing regret that a situation has been allowed to develop whereby statisticians are threatening to go in different directions and that this may lead to different sets of figures being promulgated.
3. To request the opportunity of being consulted in future by the ICC on any matter likely to affect cricket statistics, although we would not seek to reverse any decision by the ICC as this could be seen as being counterproductive."
Please see my earlier entry on this topic. My first reaction is that the committee has surrendered to an Orwellian situation and is putting to the ICC a response which is disturbingly soft and apologetic in tone. My second reaction is to reconsider my membership of the Association.
I'll give my third reaction a few more hours.