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Wickets on the web

Convert pupils' sporty interests into a numeracy lesson, with Crispin Andrews

A vast array of statistical surveys exists on the internet and you can use them to make a study of sporting superstars that will help bring data handling projects to life.

Australian cricketer Shane Warne is a mere nine wickets away from becoming the first spin-bowler in history to take 500 wickets in test matches. He is considered by many to be the best bowler of his type in the history of the game. Cricket fans can visit the Channel 4 website ( and click on "stats", before entering the player's name, to produce detailed analyses of Warne's performances. From these, activities about representing and interpreting data can be generated for children of all abilities. For example, less able pupils can produce a pictogram showing the number of wickets Warne has taken each year at Brisbane's "The Gabba" - his favourite cricket ground.

Next, show how many of these wickets were taken after being bowled, caught, stumped or leg-before-wicket (LBW). Produce different symbols for each method of dismissal, and find the answers to simple questions such as "Which were Warne's most and least successful years?" "Did he get more batters out by their being bowled or caught?" "How many wickets has he taken altogether at Brisbane?"

Use the stats search on the website to find out how many wickets Warne has taken at other Australian grounds - Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart - and ask pupils to construct a bar chart comparing his performances.

A pie chart can be used to help average-ability children to analyse the percentage of wickets Warne has taken against each country at Brisbane. Ask them to find out how England has fared against him in comparison to Pakistan or New Zealand.

Concentrate on one particular year and ask children to produce a block graph showing how many wickets of each type Warne took at each Australian ground. From this median the modal values for the season can be worked out, as can the range of Warne's performances over the year and his mean number of wickets per match.

More able children can be asked to produce and interpret a scattergram, showing each of Warne's bowling analyses at Brisbane and plotting the number of wickets taken against runs scored off him by opposing players. A different colour can be used for each opponent in order to search for trends about his comparative levels of success.

Alternatively, a Carroll diagram like the one above, can show which batters Warne and the each of the other Australian bowlers dismissed in a particular match. Batters' names in red are first-innings dismissals and their scores are in brackets.

Crispin Andrews is a primary teacher and writer

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