1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Sep 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/09/2009   
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How It Should Be Played

We’ve lost the Ashes to the Poms, can we exact revenge on the statistical playing field?

Welcome back to the Wide World of Stats. We’ll be continuing our coverage of the Stat-Ashes, with the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) hosting the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in the fifth and final test. Karen Dunnel, the captain for ONS won the toss (on 50% probability) against the ABS’s Brian Pink and elected to bat on a flat track.

The UK’s test record in a number of areas leaves much to be desired. The Brits are losing jobs at a worrying rate, with 7.8% unemployment in the latest quarter. By contrast, latest figures put Australia’s jobless rate at a miserly 5.8%. What is more concerning though is the use by the British stats compilers of the term “worklessness”.

If we’re looking at economic growth, the Brits are getting hit for six by the global recession. Their growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is short and wide, falling for the past year or so. As usual, the Aussies are on the front foot, making a solid 0.6% annual increase in GDP on a very sticky wicket.

Cricket Ball

On the inflation front the Aussies are playing it nice and safe, bat and pad close together, with an annual CPI increase of 1.5%. The Poms weren’t too shabby in this aspect of the game either, recording just a 1.8% annual increase.

One area where the Brits leave us for dead is population. At over 60 million residents, the UK makes Australia look like a small colonial outpost. In population density it gets even worse, with Australia having 2.6 people for every square kilometre, and the UK having a staggering 252 people per square kilometre of British soil. That’s a crowded slips cordon!

This means that if Michael Clarke top-edged a ball in either country, it’s nearly 100 times more likely to be caught in the UK, despite the fact that Phil Tufnell lives there.

The ONS estimated that there were 211,000 persons living in the UK in 2008 who were born in South Africa, less than 0.4% of the population. Following on from these figures, those of South African heritage are grossly over-represented in the ‘English’ cricket team, making up a quarter at last count (Strauss, Prior, Trott).

Past players like Tony Greig and Alan Lamb helped develop this long-standing tradition, but South Africa’s sporting isolation during the apartheid era may have also had something to do with this statistical anomaly.

And it looks like the Poms have pretty much banned themselves from playing sports altogether, with a meagre 10% of the population taking part in any sporting or outdoor activity in 2005. Compare this to the 66% of Australians over 15 who had participated in physical activity in 2005-06, and you can see why we’ve historically dominated the English in most sports. But can you really blame them? Considering they get about two weeks of ‘fine’ weather each year, 10% looks like a realistic figure.

But what about the future? Well the Brits think they’re on to a cricketing winner by naming most of their newborn girls Grace, no doubt after the great man, WG himself. In both WA and the UK Jack has been the most popular name for baby boys for the past 5 years running. Will there eventually be an English King Jack? WA’s already got plenty of Hungry Jacks.

So there you have it, from the figures it looks like Australia is set to trounce its old rivals. After all, the statistics don’t lie.

Paul Burns
Article By: Paul Burns
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