The current series between England and the West Indies is looking very one-sided. Records are being set – or so the press would have us believe. In the first test, four England players scored centuries, which was the second time ever that had happened – for England (first time was 1938). Other countries have had 4×100 in an innings more recently than that, but never mind.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s good. But let’s look at the bigger picture.
In the second test (still being played) England have racked up another massive total, with Kevin Pietersen hitting 226 – which every paper has reported is the highest England innings since Graham Gooch’s 333 vs India in 1990. (What we should ask is why has it taken so long, given that every other major test nation has had at least one 270+ innings in the last 10 years…)
So are England such a good batting line-up? Or is this a weak set of West Indies bowlers?
The Windies best bowler is Corey Collymore, ranked 10 in the world. Their next bowlers are ranked 31, 38, 41, 43, 45 and 49 – and the 31st and 41st aren’t playing. Collymore is not that great a bowler either, with 86 wickets in 27 tests at an average of 31. Nothing too scary there.
England in contrast have 4 batsmen in the top 15 in the world, with Pietersen at 3.
And the conclusion is… well, I hardly need to spell it out.
So when the papers make such a deal about the biggest score since X or most centuries in a series since Y, remember that a) it’s a mismatch and b) it’s always the biggest something since one date in the past. That’s the way history goes.