The Law of Large Numbers operated yesterday as India failed to hold out against England for the prescribed number of overs remaining in the first Test or to score that other large number, 457, needed to win the match.
As anticipated the expected value of the Champion’s second innings was drawn towards the average of the results in what is now a sample of 2000 similar experiments.
Their score of 261 runs in 93.3 overs was normally distributed about the mean and gave encouragement to the Central Limit Theorists hunched over their calculators sheltered under the canvas bell tents atop the new Mound Stand.
It was never going to be enough and, with the final Indian wicket falling 28.3 overs before the scheduled end of this Test, England were home and hosed (by the old crone of Clicquot) well before the shadow of the Warner Stand could creep over this famous playing surface on which neither Tendulka nor Laxman have achieved triple figures.
No Game Changer emerged from the pack of overcooked, undercooked, ill and injured Indian players. They fought the Law, and the Law won.
Lady Luck had not been on their side. Inserting England on that first morning, they were making progress when Khan (undercooked) pulled up lame. Then, bad light and rain intervened to shield England from the worst of the batting conditions.
Timorous umpiring and the good sportsmanship of Dravid allowed Pietersen to escape and add a further 150 runs to his score – close to the ultimate statistical difference between the two sides.
Tendulka (overcooked) was beset with a virus that disrupted the settled batting order and the disposition of Gambhir, struck on the elbow while fielding at short leg, caused further disturbance and limitation.
Sehwag is not here, timing his absence for surgery to the demands of the IPL calendar.
The majority of these set backs will persist as the Indian motor-coach takes the M1 north to Nottingham where the second Test starts with only a three day breather. The champions are in a difficult place.
Their captain, who Sunny Gavaskar says has ‘a life-line running up to his armpit’ is exploring every inch of this portent. The reputation of their motivator-coach, Duncan Fletcher, is balanced precariously on the top of a steep and pinnacled normal distribution.
After a night in their hotel, a balanced, focused and primed England team will make their way north to Trent Bridge where their ‘game’ will be even more suited to the conditions.
“Fait vos jeux.”