A four match cricket test series is about to start (on Thursday at Lord's cricket ground, the spiritual home of the game, between England and India. A number of cricket trivia are at stake in this series. When I say "trivia", I quite realise that this term may shock many cricket followers who consider such symbols to be all-important. Such is sport: all encompassing for those who follow, and totally insignificant for those who do not.
This test happens to be the 100th cricket test played between the two countries. With such a symbol, it has unleashed a whole battery of other statistical analyses of many aspects of the game and the players involved. Here are the two captains, Dhoni for India (left), ans Strauss for England (right) presenting the trophy for which each team will be playing in the series. But of course there is far more at stake than a silver-plated cup (are they still silver-plated?), however much these stange trophy objects may adorn the shelves of successful sportsmen.
At the international team level, if England win this series of 5-day tests by a margin of at least 2 games (which seems quite unlikely to me), then they will gain the honorary place of the current world number one team in five-day test match cricket (the real game to many, compared with the lesser, but more spectacular, one-day variants). India is the current world number one and South Africa is number two in these particular stakes.
On an individual level, the symbolic wieght is perhaps even more considerable, since the great Indian batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, is on 99 hundreds in test cricket. If he makes his 100th set of 100 runs in an innings, he will certainly slot yet another symbolic feather into his already well garnished cap. Tendulkar is indeed, and without contest, one of the all-time cricket greats (see my article on him on this blog):
And to add some extra spice to this particular item, Tendulkar has never yet scored 100 at Lord's, despite playing many games on this ground.
On the sporting side, the contest is likely to be even more interesting than this purely statistical vision would show. England has possible the best bowling combination in international cricket at the moment, and India certainly has the best batting side. The games being held in England, and therefore under the English weather conditions that tend to give the advantage many times to the bowlers, it could just about even things up. In any event it should be a good test match series. Let's hope for that and may the best team win!