Statistics: sharp as a spear, dry as dust; shorn of flesh, yet stimulating. When applied to cricket—where flannelled demi-gods toil on freshly shorn greens under a perpetually golden light, where every twist of a game is a byword for life itself—it is oddly addictive. Cricket’s connoisseurs have forever thumbed through their trusted almanacs, glorying in the poetry of the game, yet committing facts to memory like a Gradgrind. As the ICC cricket World Cup draws us in, game after game, into its vortex, here are a couple of stats to warm up with. Five-time champions Australia have won most consecutive matches (25) spanning four World Cups, from 1999 to 2011. They also hold the record of the longest unbeaten streak, of 34 matches, again stretching from 1999 to 2011. Twice winners India are placed second on both lists, with 11 matches apiece; in both cases the period is the same, from 1999 to 2011.
Will the 2019 World Cup be...