Batting for the Scorer

April 30, 2006

by Aparajith Ramnath 

Peter Roebuck writes in The Hindu of how cricket is more than just statistics. No-one in their right mind would argue with his central thesis, that “to concentrate on averages is to miss the power, the poetry and the passion”. Indeed, it is difficult to state it more succinctly.

However, the article has some rather uncharitable (to say the least) things to say about scorers and statisticians. It calls them, in different places, “those whose main attribute is an ability to count” and “these dismal creations.” Scorers and statisticians are, in fact, a largely unsung breed of people who spend hours in fierce concentration doing a job that ordinary folk would shy away from, performing a duty that is essential to the progress of the game. Anyone who has scored for a local friendly knows that it is far from easy. Certainly “an ability to count” is only the least of the attributes required to be a scorer or statistician. The statistician requires a mind that unifies, that spots similarities and differences, a mind that sees patterns. The scorer requires patience, precision, and the ability to multi-task. Despite this, in many cases, cricket scorers are underpaid and do their job merely for the love of the game.

Moreover, some scorer-statisticians have been among the keenest followers of the game, scoring for decades. “A scorer by the name of Bill Frindall” is, in fact, one of the most respected figures in the world of cricket. He has scored upward of three hundred Test matches and has even devised a scoring system.  

Statisticians perform a vital function. Whether we give more importance to statistics than to watching the game is up to us. But that does not detract from the importance of their vocation.

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