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The Wrong Model
The contest between bat and ball is not a duel, it is an execution
When a batter has half a dozen or so bad Tests, he’s a crap player. When the same batter has half a dozen or so good Tests, he’s a top player. Just look at KL Rahul. Twitter’s servers are filled to the brim with tweets from the great and the good and the ordinary about how KL Rahul was no Test player from 2018 and 2019. Those same observers have decided that he’s terrific in 2021.
It is a simple transaction. A big figure against a batters, name, batter good. A low figure, batter bad. Whatever this might be, an observation of cricket it is not.
One possible difficulty is that a common idea about cricket is that it is batter v bowler. This conjures up the image of a duel. Two combatants, evenly matched, symmetrically armed, going at each other.
The contest between batter and bowler is not a duel. It is an execution. The bowler is armed with swords, spears, sticks and stones, while the batter has only a shield. All such contests end with the batter being defeated and killed off. Ok, not all, but 87% of them (75518 out of 86734 innings at the time of writing). The only question is, how long can the batter delay this execution? Given that the batter does not possess any means to guarantee survival, this is a fraught question, especially when there aren’t that many average bowlers going.
KL Rahul was apparently crap in 2018 and 19 (when he averaged 22 over 15 Tests), and terrific in 2016 (59.9), 2017 (48.7) and 2021 (46.1). Now, unless you think the real KL Rahul went into hiding at the start of 2018 and re-emerged in 2021, you have a bit of reconsidering to do.