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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Data has its own limitations

Data driven studies are important and vital in many domains but they can also be of no consequence in certain cases.

For example a UNNIKRISHNAN or Sanjay Subramaniyam would have rendered ‘Radha samedha krishna’ more than 100 times to a gathering of 500 plus audience and every time would have also got great applause from the audience but GNB would have rendered it only some 20 times that too an audience of some 50 people that does not make GNB’s rendering any lesser or for that matter UNNI’s any greater.

While all data reveals interesting information it may not include all the parameters or multiple verticals. So to data driven conclusions on certain areas cannot give you a correct picture.

I always maintain evaluation must be contextually relevant, based on intrinsic merit or inherent attributes of whatever or whomsoever that you are evaluating.

There was a three generation sprint competition for women at Chennai some years back. One old lady of 75 plus ran at a speed of 4 steps a minute and fell down mid way. Data analysis based on speed indicated she was the poorest runner but she was the eldest of the whole lot.

In sports, especially in team sports, it is impact of a player on a given occasion is more relevant than his individual records.
Robin Singh played very few matches for India he always got a chance to bat at the maximum for 4 overs and got to bowl 2 to 3 overs [he was called an all rounder in the team but not used as one]. Unfortunately, his records are very poor, not even worth mentioning in any book on Indian one day cricket but in terms of impact, in every match he played it was consistently worthy.

So while we may judge the batsmen based on runs they have scored we do not analyze each innings in terms of the situation which includes the strength of the bowler bowling, the field placements and the quality of fielding, climate, country, pitches and unfortunately the dimension of the ground whether the boundaries were 65 meters or 95 meters; whether the runs scored were of nudges and edges [ there was a two test wonder called Hemant Kanitkar who was the top scorer in 1974 first test in against west indies at Bangalore when Andy Roberts was at his best, he scored all shots in nudges and edges but for that India would have been bundled out for less than 100 on that day] or glorious drives or bold classical flicks and late cuts  or cross batted drives and pulls etc.

I feel cricketers must be judged on cricketing merits, the joy of seeing them competing with class, craftsmanship and crisp strokes. The pleasures of watching them do so. There was immense joy in watching the sudden breezy spells of Safraz Nawaz;  Dennis Lillee  and Jeoff Thomason hunting down like a pack of wolf; the generations of  West Indian bowlers do that; the classy calm display of silky strokes of Sunil Gavaskar, Dravid, Sachin, Steve Waugh, Allan Border; the audacious display of taking on the bowlers by Vivian Richards, Shewag, Hayden, Gilcrist ; the smooth flowing drives of Lara, Lakshman, kalicharan etc.

Let us not therefore barter the joy of watching the game or let our judgments be influenced by prejudices based on favoritism.

Players like Arjuna Ranathunga, Javed Miandad, Allan Border , Clive Llyod, Dilip Vengsarkar, Azhruddin   used play the ball in the gaps and scamper through for singles and twos, especially Ranatunga will run like Bolt till he reaches the other crease then stop at once.

 But I would never like to watch someone living on only running between the wickets and playing strokes once in a while when there is a loose delivery or through nudges like Bevan , even if he holds all the best records in the game as a finisher.

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