There is nothing the youngest in the house loves more than a stat. Actually, not true, there is nothing the youngest loves more than producing a stat. A hip injury has taken away the final month of his cricket season, so he decided to have a look at which country has the highest conversion rate from under 19 World Cup into senior internationals. A combination of Wikipedia and ESPNcricinfo might send the professional statos into a bit of a tizzy but you work with what you have. The results, well they might surprise you but we will leave that aside for a moment and come back to it later.

Cricket loves statistics. Aside from the American cousin, baseball, it is probably the sport that wallows most in its numbers. Baseball has always had a similar obsession with the topic. It took a book (and subsequently the film of the book), Moneyball to question that obsession. But that book based on the story of the Oakland As merely moved the focus from one set of stats to another. To a certain extent, something similar has happened in cricket. Historically, batting is judged by the average runs per completed innings while bowling uses the runs per wickets figures. We see more about strike and economy rates nowadays but when the cups are handed out at the end of the season the long-standing criteria are those that count. So the batter with the best average runs per innings and runs per wicket will be the winners. Where is the problem with that, you might ask. I am not suggesting that there is a problem at all, that is the rules, everyone knows them.

My problem is that these stats often tell us far too little to be remotely relevant.

Let's start with the batter. You average 50 plus for a season, by any measure that is a fantastic achievement. But what is far more meaningful is, how many match winning innings does it contain. Ok, too vague, what is a match winning innings, a natty little 20 not out at the end of a tight game might be more relevant than the pedestrian 80 at the top of the order. Starting to see my problem? Not outs are a great boost to any average, but again, not outs tell us nothing. Pity the poor opener who (without any figures to back this up) is considerably less likely to be not out than a, let's say, number six. But of course, on the other hand, the opener is guaranteed a knock while poor ole six has to wait and see. Setting a target or chasing a target? Different games which require different approaches, do the runs equate? Not always.

And the bowlers, surely more straightforward, you would think. Eh hang on there. All wickets are welcome but not all wickets are equal. Early wickets at the top of an order are gold while the ones that knock off the tail are always gratefully accepted, they do not compare with those of the pro or the star bat. But it's like for like in the column at the end of a season.

Now I am told that CricViz is adding additional information to their statistics, highlighting the impact of runs and wickets, undoubtedly a move in the right direction.

Stats without a deeper context are pretty much irrelevant yet they are still the benchmark used. On the plus side, they are essential for the lazy coach and selector who can scan the scorecard at the end of the day and make their judgements based on what they read rather than actually looking at players.

So while we use statistics, just make sure they are understood to be merely a part of the story.

Having destroyed the basis of the youngest's work, I should acknowledge the hours he spent in working out which country is best at turning its under 19 players into full internationals by letting you in on the results.

Before we reveal the gold medal winners, perhaps we should take a look at how we do ourselves.

There have been 131 players who have represented Ireland under 19s while 43 have gone on to represent the senior side, a conversion rate of 32.82%. How does this compare to the Big 3, I hear you ask. While India, Australia and England have all had more Under 19 representatives and indeed senior internationals, their conversion rate is lower. India - 28.03% (58 out of 207) Australia - 24.61% (47 out of 191) England - 27.09% (55 out of 203) The average rate over all the teams is 32.25%.

We could bore you with the lists of players who have been part of this conversion but that is not what you have come for is it? Who are the winners?

Well, with a conversion rate of 100% is………… Argentina.

Did you see that coming? In 2000, 3 Argentines, represented the Americas and subsequently went on to play for Argentina. The 3 players were Carlos Gibson, Lucas Paterlini and Paublo Ryan. Well done Argentina.

So as Benjamin Disraeli said “there are three kind of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics” follow them at your peril.

Country Conversion
Rate (%)
Under 19
Argentina 100 3 3
Bermuda 80.95 17 21
Denmark 73.33 11 15
Hong Kong 53.33 8 15
Nigeria 53.33 8 15
USA 53.13 17 32
Namibia 42.75 56 131
Kenya 40.35 23 57
Malaysia 40 6 15
Nepal 39.08 34 87
Bangladesh 37.37 71 190
West Indies 36.59 75 205
Zimbabwe 36.36 60 165
Pakistan 36.02 67 186
Afghanistan 33.33 35 105
Ireland 32.82 43 131
Sri Lanka 31.07 64 206
New Zealand 30.32 57 188
Canada 30.28 33 109
Uganda 30.23 13 43
India 28.02 58 207
Papua New Guinea 27.69 36 130
England 27.09 55 203
Netherlands 25 4 16
Australia 24.61 47 191
South Africa 24.34 46 189
Fiji 21.42 3 14
Scotland 21.21 28 132
UAE 20 9 45
Japan 0 0 14