Interview of Cricket Fans – 66 – Statistician
[Note: These views are not to be taken personally. All the ideas in the article are mine and no way related to the cricket websites I work for. And the views can change with time]
Thank you so much for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories associated with this sport.
Hi, thanks, very happy to take part in an interview, because no one before gave me any chance to express myself, even if I wanted to. I know I am someone who gets excited so much, and when I am getting a chance for an interview, it obviously becomes more. Being an Indian born after 1983, cricket interest is something which is so natural, that you don’t remember the exact moments when you first watched it live on TV. I was told that I watched the 2003 World Cup as a baby with a lot of interest, though I don’t particularly remember (I guess it was some other series later). The first memory I vividly remember along with the players involved in it was 2007 T20 World Cup winning final – Joginder bowling to Misbah who hits it straight to land on Sreesanth’s hand. Though I think, I watched much more moments before that (my memory wasn’t good when I was a child). Just a casual fan like many in the country, but developed a serious interest and addiction in the game since 2013 Champions Trophy. This interest never took a back step, though it faced some setbacks.
Have you been fortunate enough to watch a Cricket match live in a stadium? If yes, share your experience.
I’ve watched live cricket only a few times, and I want to watch it more. But my fond experiences are shouting from the top-most tier of the stadium during an IPL match against RR. I remember those moments whenever I feel dull. It was 2012, but only the second time Deccan Chargers won a match at Hyderabad (would be subjected to so many memes today). That made the feeling of win more special, though out of the league. And a sad but memorable experience was watching Sachin Tendulkar’s 175, which was the first match I watched live at ground. I remember crying like a small kid. Now I get excited whenever that famous match comes on my TL. Nowadays it is tough because I am the only one in my family interested in cricket. The last time I booked tickets for a match was during an abandoned match against Australia in 2017. Later I planned once, but cancelled it on the last moment due to another work. I wish I soon watch the game where it is played with my own eyes once more.
When did you start developing interest in statistics?
Yeah, it is more than likes, retweets, followers and building a career though are one of the reasons. First of all, I like the sport of cricket due to the drastic turns, which changes a match completely and the different situations such as pulling out a match from nowhere. The discipline maintained during training and match, and the benefits of staying fit, everything is reflected in the sport. The feeling of hitting a six high into the sky is like you conquer everything happening around you. The sound of the bat, the ball hitting the stumps, and good commentary are always too good. This gives different feelings which make us forget the real world troubles for some time. I chose to go deep into a single sport rather than following multiple sports. And why I like stats is that I can easily relate the current happenings to the past, and understand the game in a different way. It is one way you can love the game peacefully with rarely arguing on opinions. Also, it is one of the cheapest ways of finding original information. You don’t need to spend lots of money in finding stats and you don’t need to collect information from primary sources, you can find them all and discover new facts right from your home with the help of a basic internet plan. Most importantly, its something that comes naturally to me, the only thing I can do quickly when suddenly woken up at midnight.
I first fell into love with stats one day in 2017.
Since how long have you started to take interest in statistics?
Even for this, I can’t pinpoint when it started because, since childhood, I have an unusual tendency to note down the scores and anything I find interesting. I wasn’t someone who spent a lot of time then, but it was for the few matches I watched. Only after a few years, I found that Cricinfo already has a track of everything. In 2016 or 2017 don’t remember exactly, I first got attracted to stats which I do now, and try to learn finding a different kind of stats. I have taken a few long breaks here and there losing the interest and finally got the stats grip in around December 2018.
Throw me one of the most mind-blowing stat you can ever think of.
I am tempted to throw five of the best stats which I have found on my own. Tweeted four of them.
(A) Mushfiqur Rahim is the only player to have retired-hurt in Test, ODIs and T20Is.
(B) Matthew Wade is the first player whose first 4 Test hundreds are in the first, second, third and fourth innings of the match respectively.
(C) The highest batsman ranking for an Indian player in Test, ODI and T20I are all by Virat Kohli. The true all-format best.
(D) The only player to dismiss the fanboy trio of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in the same over is the Ireland bowler Peter Chase.
(E) Tim Paine said, “We think it’s going to be a bit of bodyline for the rest of the series”. Then I quoted it and said that Tim Paine and Douglas Jardine are the only players whose names end in -INE, as in Bodyline.
Do stats only show one side of a story or do you think it shows us everything?
There aren’t two types of stats, there are three. All make it ingredients of a tasty dish, which don’t taste well when consumed alone.
(A) The stats which tell both sides of the story
(B) The stats which tell 1 side of the story
(C) The stats which tell 0 sides of the story
(A) The stats which actually tell the story and are expected to be useful, which are used in mainstream cricket analytics and also for Dream11 players.
(B) “Stats are a mini-skirts, they reveal more than they hide. But what they hide is the most vital part”. In this category comes the most deceptive stats which tell only one part and hide the other part of the story. These are used to highlight what they like, completely blanking out the other part. Being human, I think it is all fine to have some bias unless you don’t appreciate the other side even when it reaches its peak. You may criticize Rohit (or any other player) purely on his performances without going into his weight or family affairs, but you can’t do it on the day he scores a double century. A big positive of this stat is to have your own identity. You tweet your most natural way. But only if it doesn’t get too aggressive by criticizing even the polite replies or subtweeting on the people who never tweeted against you, just because their interests are different.
(C) Now the stats which tell 0 sides of the story – yes they exist and yes I do that, but no it cannot be called a time waste. This is just a recreational aspect of the game. A different form of entertainment which some won’t get, just like how stats people like us cannot crack your jokes. For instance, @vmanjunath asked me how many times did the same jersey players dismiss each other. Or the fact that a 2019 Test match between SL-PAK has seen the first instance of three consecutive dismissals having a batsman out at the score of 13, considered an unlucky number by a particular sect. They don’t tell even a small part of what happened in the field. But those who enjoy it, do feel the real enjoyment, and there are quite a lot of them here.
As @agarwal_navin once said, those who misunderstand stats are who cannot differentiate gold dust and sand dust.
Which aspect of stats do you enjoy the most? Stats related to batting or stats related to bowling? Or any other?
I give all, whenever I find something interesting and I never thought if this was a batting, bowling, fielding or keeping stat. But the one I eventually like would be the batting stats because it is easy to understand and faster to find.
What skills are required to become a statistician?
To be frank, it is never a demanding job, or something which only data science experts can. Just knowledge of cricket basics is enough. Once you open Statsguru, you can easily pick whatever filter you want and find your stats. The only advantage I have is some basic Excel skills to dig stats quicker. During the lockdown I have started to learn Advanced Excel, SQL and Python to improve my range in stats.
Apart from skills, it requires a lot of patience to find a pattern in the match and focus while finding the stats to avoid mistake. It might be sometimes sound a tedious job, but the fruits are always rewarding. Whatever I post on Twitter, I don’t earn anything through it, but still, I share my stats and ideas. I write on websites like CricXtasy for an earning. Both are enjoyable for me. The skill I am lacking is in my focus due to which I provide my stats late or with regular mistakes. I wish to improve on it, by increasing my concentration.