Tuesday, 28 April 2009
A duck is the lowest score you can get in cricket - it means nought or zero.
No runs whatsoever.
If you get out for a duck you have 'failed to trouble the scorer'. If you get out first ball that is known as a 'golden duck'.
All cricketers fear the duck. Every batsman feels better when they 'get off the mark' and score a run. But every cricketer will, at some point have got a duck. Indeed, a duck is the most common score in cricket.
Why is this?
Why is it, indeed, that even the most successful batsmen of all score far more ducks than you would expect? Indeed, a duck is often the modescore for a batasman, even if they average over 50. One might reasonably expect a batsman's average score to be the same as his mode score. But that is not the case. Ducks are extraordinarily common.
All cricketers think they know why this is. They believe that it is easy to get out 'before you get your eye in'. They believe that the bowler has the advantage of surprise. What's more the bowlers' tails are up and they are feeling confident after dismissing a previous batsman. Batsman therefore seek to start cautiously and defensively.
But in fact this theory doesn't explain it. The answer lies in simple statistics. Every batsman starts on zero. However, as batsmen can score in singles, twos, threes, fours and sixes they do not always alight on other scores. Every innings starts at zero but far fewer innings ever hit 12 or 27 or 31. Or 99.
This is an example of how common views of behaviour and life are in fact false. And how our misunderstanding of statistics hinders our view of the world, and colours our decision making.