Saturday 25 September 2010

Doing lines

The first class averages were once the implacable judges of a season. You used to have to wait for them, too, in the pre-information age. The newspaper would print them eventually, as would The Cricketer, those long lines of evidence, Boycott usually on or near the top of the batting, the bowling the preserve of saturnine gods WW Daniel [Middx] and ST Clarke [Sur], deadly quicks born out of time. Further down, loaded with ennui, the stats of BA Richards - 50-odd was enough for him, double that not enough to sate Geoffrey.

Those glowing few decades seem like mirages now: King Viv, Joel Garner and Beefy playing entire seasons at the same club, Macco Marshall bowling hundreds of overs for Hampshire, the captain of West Indies carving a life at Old Trafford, England's players returning by rote to their counties as Tests concluded, Hadlee unplayable at Trent Bridge, and so on, apparently ad infinitum, until it wasn't.

Now those stats are immediate and mitigated. At the PCA awards Neil Carter took the player of the season award for 617 runs and 51 wickets, just over half the traditional 'double', yet the weight of his stats grew once the century and two fifties in a winning CB40 campaign and his 16 T20 wickets were added in. In time-poor times, no-one has the time for old-school stats.

But they remain fascinating. The most obvious point made by the batting figures is that it was a bowlers' season. Even the brooding prince of English batsmanship, the Heathcliff of Div Two, MR Ramprakash, had to settle for 1,595 runs at 61.34 in the year he turned 40. What a player he is.

What shines through the stats is the nobility of the competition. The Championship went down to its final day, a shattering one in a shattering week for Somerset and Marcus Trescothick, a man who continues to enrich the game. It's ironic that, in understanding his despair at Somerset's empty season, it became easier to see what we have gained from his international absence. During a summer when international cricket seemed endless and, in that endlessness, corruptible, men like Trescothick had the force of history behind them.

1 comment:

John Holmes said...

"..the force of history" behind Trescothick.

Great phrase.

Test Matches do really seem ungrounded in reality these days. When players went back to their counties between tests, it put the internationals into a real context.
Instead of "icing on the cake" it's endless icing sugar all the time.