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    July 11, 2008

    South Africa suffer from Lord's curse

    Since 2000, there have been 7 instances where the touring team sent England in to bat at Lord's. The data is fairly emphatically indicative of the fact that touring teams almost always get it wrong when they opt to field first at Lord's. This is something I mentioned in a post on AOL's cricket blogs section last year before the India v England test at Lord's.
    I probably don't have the stats to back me up, but I've seen many visiting teams (not named Australia) flounder at Lord's and opting to bowl first. Then they repent for a couple of days. After that, they realise that the pitch has changed character and the game is out of their grasp before either of the two captains can say 'inexperienced bowling attack'.
    England's first innings scores have been 391, 187, 472, 173, 568, 553 & 593. Only Australia (2001) & South Africa (2003) shot out England for a low score.

    There're far too many people who're credited with having given advice to the effect of "If you win the toss, you should bat first 9 times out of 10. On that one other instance, you think again, and bat first." I read a similar line in Ashley Mallett's book featuring Ian Chappell - "Chappelli Speaks Out" a couple of weeks ago and Mike Brearley's "The Art of Captaincy". I've also seen this sort of quote attributed to the likes of Richie Benaud & Don Bradman.

    That last total of 593 came in the on-going England v South Africa test, the first of an eagerly awaited series. Graeme Smith sent England in and watched with horror as his bowlers failed to pick up a wicket before lunch on day one and England piled up 309/3 at stumps on the first day. First, Kevin Pietersen got a century in his first test against South Africa. He now has 13 centuries from 74 innings, the most for any current English batsman not named Michael Vaughan (assuming that Trescothick is unlikely to make a comeback).

    Ian Bell is actually the interesting part of this post. He now has 8 centuries from 71 innings, but all his centuries have had the cushion of someone else also scoring a hundred. You could look at it in two ways.But when I looked at his centuries, there've really been only 2 instances (aside from the on-going test where he came in after England had dramatically collapsed from 114/0 to 117/3) when he has come in and done a good job when England was in trouble. These were at Faisalabad (which was quite a dramatic game since Shahid Afridi first smashed 92 in 85 balls and was then caught on TV damaging the pitch while Pakistan was fielding. After Afridi's innings, Inzamam was wrongly ruled run out when he took evasive action after Harmison hurled the ball on the striker's stumps) and at Napier earlier this year when England & New Zealand were in the early stages of their love affair lasting 19 consecutive internationals.

    I'm not saying he's not a good batsman. He obviously is. But he'd rate far more highly if he made centuries when others made 30s and 40s. Patrick Kidd from the Times Online is also thinking on similar lines.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 11:00 PM |
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    1 sledge(s):

    Ian Bell.
    He is not someone I would pay to watch, alrite he is not an Ijaz "Butcher" Ahmed, but I dont rate him much

    By Blogger Tarun (14-Jul-2008, 2:14:00 PM)  

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