Statistics vs Trivia

Cricket is a game that is full of interesting stories, odd records and useless information. It is also a game that can generate a huge quantity of statistics.

Often people that look after that information, those stories, know those records and analyze those statistics are lumped together under the title "cricket statistician."

I personally feel this is misleading.

Statistics is a process of getting information, arranging that information in ways that are useful for analysis, analyzing that information and then using it to help draw conclusions.

Knowing what Shoaib Mohammad had for breakfast the day before his massive innings against New Zealand might be interesting, but it is trivia, not statistics. I enjoy listening to stories of old tours, and while I grew up I couldn't stop reading cricketers biographies and autobiographies. However I found that I started to get more interested in the numbers that some of the books contained, than in the details of what type of bus the team took to the ground.

This blog aims to be primarily a statistics blog. There will be some snippets of trivia thrown in from time to time, as well as odd records that I might have noticed, but really I'm more interested in numbers that tell a story.

For example, In ODI's since 2005 Brendan McCullum averages about 40 at a strike rate of about 100 when batting at number 2. He also averages about 25 at a strike rate of about 80 at number 1. This sort of statistic brings up lots of interesting questions. What teams did he play against at number 2, as opposed to number 1? Who was his partner at number 1 and number 2? Is this the same in the first innings and second innings?

Good statistics should also allow us to make a prediction. The nature of cricket is that there is always an element of unpredictability, but good statistics should help us get closer to good predictions than would otherwise be the case. There are always things that statistics don't tell us, (bad umpiring, freak plays etc) but eventually these things even out.

If there is too much statistics here, and not enough trivia for your taste, try Steven Lynch from Cricinfo. He's a trivia goldmine.