Don’s average is 99.94

August 26, 2008 at 4:17 am

I am sure you are saying, “Come on Adi. Tell us something new”. Okay then, this is the news: Don Bradman’s average could actually be 100 if we are to believe a particular gentleman by name Charles Davis [a former scientist, is now a sport statistician. He is the author of Best Of The Best, a detailed examination of Bradman’s career]. This is how the story goes as quoted by him here.

Some years ago I embarked on a project to examine old Test match scorebooks closely, to uncover previously hidden statistics, such as balls faced. Over the years, it came as a great surprise to find that apparent errors and anomalies arise quite regularly.

In the scorebook of the epic eight-day fifth Test of 1928-29 against England in Melbourne, won by Australia by five wickets, there is a “problem” boundary in the final stages, when Bradman was batting with Jack Ryder. (I found this when rescoring the Test, ball by ball, to re-create the exact sequence of events.)

While he goes on waxing eloquent about the errors in those paper-based scoring matches during those days, there comes a point when he does not really want to challenge History and get down to the depth of the matter despite having done the donkey’s work. Maybe it is not practical, but he won’t know if he doesn’t try after having come this close.

Most of Bradman’s scorebooks have not been checked at this level of detail. It is painstaking work. However, the chances of finding other anomalies, based on experience with many other scores, seem high.

Then he says,

Unfortunately, most of these anomalies are inconclusive. If something in a scorebook does not compute, this does not mean that the accepted score must be wrong.

Finally comes the cat on the wall statement,

It is worth remembering, of course, that errors could easily cut both ways: Bradman could lose runs as easily as gain runs this way. Ultimately, that iconic average of 99.94 will probably stand. Wisden is against the retrospective alteration of scores (“that way madness lies”) and I tend to agree. I do think, however, that problems with scores from the pre-computer age may create uncertainties of a few parts in a thousand.

But what is not doubted, ever, is that the average is 99.94. And that is final.

Overheard during the Olympics closing ceremony

August 25, 2008 at 12:05 am

The evergreen DD commentators strike Gold [I can take this word without getting emotional about it anymore. Thanks Abhinav!] yet again! I am not going translate this into any other language. If you know Hindi you will understand why!

“bird’s nest jise chidiyon ka ghosla kaha jaata hai kal se itna bhara hua nahin rahega”

“yeh ek aitihasik olympics hai duniya ke liye kyonki india ne apna first gold medal jeeta hai individual category mein”

“olympic ki shama ab bujhne jaa rahi hai….aakhri baar yeh shama jwalit hai….isse dekhkar ek pankti yaad aa rahi hai….” you won’t believe what came next….he started singing “shama hai suhana suhana….” dont miss the play on the word “sama”

Thanks to a friend [Link] of a friend [Link] for capturing this though her orkut scraps! If anyone has captured it on video then please let me know. I missed it! No not the ceremony, the commentary! :)

Life and how to survive it

August 22, 2008 at 2:32 am

A great speech at the NTU annual convocation that I found here. Adrian Tan gave this speech to the graduating class of 2008.
[via my colleague Deepak]

I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.