How Much Time Does A Hundred Buy You?

One of the more problematic tasks facing cricket fans is to objectively analyze a batsman’s form. You would think this would be easy — just look at recent innings, average trend lines, and learn from the data. But that’s not how it actually works. Take Virender Sehwag, the latest Indian centurion. Here’s a guy who hadn’t scored a Test century in two years, and yet now, one (admittedly impressive) innings later, I see Indian fans posting Facebook statuses hailing Sehwag’s “redemption.”

Part of the trouble is that it’s not clear how much time a hundred buys a batsman. Can you score a century and then hand in a bunch of single-digit innings without fear of punishment? How long could you pull that trick? Our perceptions are also clouded by the context of the innings — say that you score a century in notoriously difficult places like New Zealand, while every other batsman in your team fails. This won’t be reflected in your career averages, but fans will pick up on the story and be happy to give you more leeway when your inevitable failure arrives. Finally, I imagine that for many people, first impressions last — I’m willing to give Sehwag a break because I was there when he first arrived on the scene and looked like a meaner, simpler Sachin Tendulkar. I’ve called these impressions “cricket crushes” — feelings that affect your evaluations of players and lead you to assessments not fully based in reality or data (e.g., for me, Irfan Pathan and M. Kaif). Ask yourself: If V.V.S. Laxman hadn’t scored 281, would he really have earned such a special place in our hearts?

All of this isn’t to dismiss Sehwag’s performance yesterday. That was a fine innings, and I don’t believe that he’s just a flat track bully — the boys at Test Match Sofa confirmed his overseas average tops 40, which is more than respectable for an Indian opener. No, what I’m saying is that I’ve lost some patience with Sehwag. I’m not content just yet with one hundred.

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3 thoughts on “How Much Time Does A Hundred Buy You?

  1. The problem with Viru is that he does not put a price on his wicket, just plays for fun like he would with his son! Of course hitting those sweet fours and sixes is nice, but this is a Test, not an ODI or T20.

    That said, even Gauti is not taking his batting seriously. He certainly could have pushed on for a century, but he gave it away. Too uneasy against Swanny, and our batsmen are supposed to be “masters of spin”?

    Also, Sachin is taking his place for granted after scoring a Ranji hundred. This is disappointing from the seniors, it seems the youngsters are the ones who are concerned. Ojha, Ashwin, Kohli, Pujara, Rahane (sub) and the others will be our future bread-winners. It’s only a matter of time before Sachin goes, and Gambhir gets dropped. Meanwhile, Sehwag can savor that century and keep his place. Only for a few more matches……

  2. live score says:

    I think you’re right that it’s not that easy to predict a batsman’s performance in the recent months as one certainly have to look at the contexts of his innings. Virender Sehwag as he is a very experienced batsman of the Indian line up should be consistent in his performance.But here in the sub-continent the fans just see at the current score of a batsman and do not play attention to his later innings so do as the batsman in the sub-continent while in other countries like Australia and England the batsmen are consistent like Micheal Clarke, look at his scores this year.He really has played his utmost part in the Australian victory.

  3. That’s aptly put , DB.
    I am also not anti-Sehwag or GG for that matter. But I am not satisfied with one hundred or the 65 that GG. Want them to get back to what their best, where they scored runs in heaps and gave consistent starts.

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