Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why is Michael Clarke delaying the declaration?

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Cricket statisticians the world over and especially Australian ones, have lashed out at Australian captain Michael Clarke for "delaying the declaration" against India in the ongoing Melbourne Test that will now go well into the 4th Day.

India have already done enough to earn an honorable loss at Melbourne,ensuring that the most illustrious batting lineup ever to play the game will once again have failed without inviting any criticism from their extremely satisfied customer base. In a year that Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid routinely failed to help their team cross the 300 mark away from home; the amount of adulation they still hold among Indian fans has product marketers perplexed. Performance, long thought of as an essential for any product to sustain sales in the market, may be "old school" thinking according to market analysts. Finding external factors to hide poor performance may be key. 

Researchers have noted how thin bowling, IPL, tail-end collapses, DRS, injuries have all served as "excuses" for the non-performance of the great Indian middle-order. The reality is that India's young bowlers have carried their more illustrious batters for almost a year now. Researchers have further observed how India have successfully sold their "first-test-woes" as part and parcel of the experience. 

Given this context, there is general consensus among statisticians that Michael Clarke has delayed the 3rd innings declaration by at least 30 runs and thus Australia have lost an opportunity to truly humiliate India and gain a lasting upper hand in the series. 

The statisticians may have a point. Even at their peak the highest score ever chased by India's middle order led by the trio of Sachin, VVS and Dravid, outside the subcontinent is 233. Today they are far from their peak as evidenced by their meek performances in the West Indies and England.

There is generally an extremely high level of curiosity in the market for what excuses India will give when they lose the Melbourne test. 

But what if they win....

But they are expected to to win against no names like Lyon, Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus. There are new lessons to be learnt only from unexpected events.

Leaving statistics aside, the reality is India would most likely chase somewhere around 250-260 to win with Australia needing to get Virendra Sehwag out to win the Test. 

It is entirely possible that Clarke's decision to delay the declaration was an homage to the great man.

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