Vital statistics

Amit Upadhyay

The World Cup debacle of the Indian cricket team in March 2007 led to, among other things, media outrage about the commitment of the players involved. The Indian batting, otherwise revered, was deemed brittle and good only against poorer oppositions. Anyone who follows cricket will have noticed the statistical information that comes up as part of the analysis of the game. Thinking about teaching math, or even statistics, to children interested in sport is not a novel idea. But newer statistical analysis within sport can actually help expound mathematical concepts, usually rendered in a soporific garb.

Let us look at an example. The mean in a set of scores can be explained using the scores of a batsman. Take the recent debate about Virender Sehwag’s wretched batting form. Consider his scores in the first half 2007. They are as follows: 9, Did Not Bat (DNB), 8, 1, 10, 9, 17, 65, 0, 18, 11, 19, 12, 46, 2, 114, 48. The mean, or the batting average of Sehwag’s scores can be calculated by dividing the total number of runs garnered in all innings by the number of completed innings (as indicated by the scores, he did not bat for one innings, and hence the total number of innings ought to be 16). His average or mean score is 24.31.

Sehwag’s scores can teach us a few more things about statistics. By themselves, the scores don’t mean much, therefore, let us create some categories that will make his scores a little more clear to the mathematical mind. Suppose we divide the runs scored in the 17 innings into the following categories.

Amit Upadhyay is a doctoral candidate with the Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad.

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