India Uncut

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Allen Iverson ain't that hot

Malcolm Gladwell reviews a book that looks at performance in sport in an entirely new way. Fascinating stuff, do read.

I wonder whether we could also find new ways of looking at cricketing performance beyond batting and bowling averages, and if so, what kind of metrics would we take into account. I know interesting studies of the kind have been attempted before, including by Wisden, who feed me bread and butter, but never with the kind of systematic rigour that is typical in, say, top-notch sabermetrics. (By and by, I'd written once on the subject of sporting performance and statistics here, with reference to baseball.)

I'd particularly be interested in an evaluation of Shane Warne vis-a-vis Muttiah Muralitharan. Assuming that both of them have legit actions, and I believe they do, who is a greater matchwinner? Murali has a far better wickets-per-Test record, but then, he bowls in a team that has no other great bowler, while Warne has generally bowled with Glenn McGrath in his side. Also, Warne had featured in more wins, but then, he's part of a much better side. And Warne has done badly against India, while Murali's done pretty well. How do they stack up against each other? How do we judge? It's a fascinating subject.

(Gladwell link via email from Joby Joseph.)
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