Mother of all bets…

Posted in sports by jrahman on October 14, 2010

… that I am set to lose.

This conversation was had in the middle of 2003, when Tendulkar had 31 centuries against Ponting’s 17.  As of today, the score is Tendulkar 49 – Ponting 39.

A first edition signed hardback copy of the Midnight’s Children costs over $3,000.

Me: I want Waugh to break Sunny’s record.

Brother: Centuries?

M: Yes.

B: He won’t. Or rather, he might, but he will probably never hold the record for most centuries. Tendulkar is ahead of Steve already with 31. I think Waugh has one test more for this series, then probably nothing till India.

M: He’ll get it, then Sachin, then Ponting.

B: Ponting won’t break Tendulkar’s record.

M: Bet?

B: Sure. Five books?

M: No, one classy collectible book of the winner’s choosing.

B: I find that ambiguous.

M: Winner chooses a book that he considers to be a collector’s item.

B: Umm. Signed first copies of Midnight’s Children cost thousands of dollars you know.

M: Yes, exactly. But we have years before this is settled.

B: During which time the price will increase even more. Especially if Rushdie dies. In the meantime, okay, to get the bet right – I am saying Tendulkar will get more centuries, you are saying Ponting will get more centuries.

M: It’s not Ponting vs Sachin.

B: Well?

M: Ponting will break Tendulkar’s record of most test centuries — Anthony for, Amar against.

B: Alright.

M: If Tendulkar doesn’t make that record but Ponting does, I win.

B: No problem.

M: If Tendulkar doesn’t make that record, but neither does Ponting, no one wins, even if Ponting has more tons than Tendulkar.

B: If either player’s career significantly cut short by injury or death, bet is invalid. If through bad form, or being dropped, tough.

M: Define ‘significantly’?

B: I think this would depend on specific fact scenario, so rather than trying to define it now, would leave it as is, and argue about it later if it becomes an issue. I see significant as at least ‘some years’ in the eyes of expert commentators. But willing to leave it to reasonable and mutually agreed interpretation in future.

M: Happy to leave it for now. What about being banned for cheating?

B: I think that should make bet invalid, at least I am making it in good faith of cricketers characters.

M: I disagree…. it’s a result of the cricketer’s own action, just like poor form. Injury is not of choice.

B: Oh alright, what do I care, fine with me. So done deal?

M: Done deal.

B: Done deal here as well.

M: Oh one more — if war or political upheavals shorten a player’s career it is treated same way as injury.

B: Yeah.

M: We have to think of every exigency.

B: Mind you, what if you want the Gutenberg Bible first edition?

M: Then you just have to work f…ing hard — or you’ll die with the shame of indebtedness.

B: Hmmmm…if you are rich, let me warn you, I am going to screw you over pretty bad to make sure I can live in comfort.


6 Responses

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  1. The one I got right « Mukti said, on December 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    […] ভাবসিলাম অনেক টাইট হবে, পন্টিং আরো সেন্চুরি মারবে …  এই গুলা আমি ঠিক হিসাব করি […]

  2. zafar said, on November 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    this makes me question all the other foresight/analysis of yours i have relied upon lo these many years! what kind of statistical analysis did you undertake before entering into this ill-advised wager??

    • jrahman said, on November 28, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Heh, I would have thought you were questioning everything I say after I missed the 2008 election result, which you predicted right. 🙂

      As it happens, this wager was not as ill-advised as you might think. The wager was taken in mid-2003, when Ponting had 17 centuries against Tendulkar’s 31. There was a sense amongst cricket followers at that time that Tendulkar was past his prime, while Ponting’s peak was ahead of him. Plus, Australia played lot more tests than the one-day obsessed India. Considering that had I won, I’d have asked for an original and signed copy of Keynes (General Theory) or the Communist Manifesto — both of which are 3/4 times more expensive than a signed first edition Midnight’s Children — I think I had pretty good odds.

      Now consider what happened after the bet was made. By Dec 2004, they both had 3 centuries, and the overall score was 20-34 against Ponting. In 2005, the score was Ponting 6 – Tendulkar 1. In 2006, it was 7 – 0 Ponting. That is, by the end of 2006, Ponting had 33 tons against Tendulkar’s 35. I don’t think my wager looked all that ill-advised at that time. Even the most passionate Indian supporters were not expecting the extraordinary return to form Tendulkar were to show in the subsequent year.

      And what a return it has been! Since Jan 2007, Tendulkar has scored 16 tons. Over that time, Ponting has scored only 6. Beset by injury and form loss, by late 2010 (when this was posted), it was clear that Ponting was finished. But it’s really the extraordinary Tendulkar resurgence that had sunk me.

      • zafar said, on November 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

        hahaha … well i should have guessed that you wouldn’t have made the bet in the absence of persuasive contemporaneous evidence to suggest its soundness. too bad, as they say in those prospectuses i used to peddle, that past performance is no guarantee of future results. not exactly a black swan event, more a short, chubby brown one! 🙂

      • jrahman said, on December 2, 2011 at 9:25 am

        Except of course in this case the past performance would have predicted the present pretty well — the chubby brown swan did brilliantly in the 1990s, and after a brief hiatus, doing brilliantly now. 🙂

  3. Of books and bookshops « Mukti said, on May 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

    […] series.  And I would like to have won a signed copy of the first edition General Theory for this.  But kindle is fine for Edward Luce’s pessimistim about […]

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