Thursday, 16 July 2009

Flintoff's Farewell to Test Cricket

Andrew Flintoff, England 'all-rounder', is to retire from Test cricket. It's too early to do a post-mortem on his Test career, but this is momentous news, worthy of a post.

Flintoff played a significant role in the development of sabermetric cricket. One of the first studies I ever did—on paper, not electronically, so no link—told me straightaway that he had been mislabelled, and it was to curse him for all his career. As I heard Jonathan Agnew say, on the BBC Radio 4 Midnight News, 'In black and white, Flintoff's career figures don't add up to much...a bowling average...higher than his batting.'

Yes, they don't add up to much because people were so in awe of his batting style when he was brought into the side back in 1998, that it was overlooked that he was an excellent 'change' bowler. With 'all-rounder' attached to his name, Flintoff was always doomed to disappoint in the Test arena. His attacking style of batsmanship had too many holes that could be exploited by good bowling. He never 'adds up', because people are too busy looking at his shortcomings, not at his successes.

There's a joke in the world of baseball sabermetrics about how 'statheads' live in their mothers' basements studying spreadsheets on a computer. 'Get your head out of a spreadsheet and watch a game,' goes the jibe. Yet it only took some dozy Yank who never played the game, and barely watched it, (I am a radio listener) a few minutes one lunchtime with a pen, a calculator, a bit of paper and some cricket statistics copied off the Internet to figure out that all those people watching the games had Flintoff tagged wrongly. He was a world-class Test bowler who could bat a bit. I salute him.

No comments:

Post a Comment