The performances of sporting legends can be used to engage pupils in maths lessons. Crispin Andrews looks at this cross curricular method, including easy-to-implement examples

So Shane Warne has finally retired from first class cricket. The lure of the rupee and the poker table, not to mention family and many other business commitments, means that a year and a half after playing his last test match, the incomparable leg-spinner will not be turning out for Hampshire again.

There is a vast array of statistics on the web, so the study of sporting superstars like Warne can bring primary data handling projects to life.

Selected by Wisden as one of the five cricketers of the century, Shane Warne is the second leading wicket taker of all time. Along with counterparts like Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan, he resurrected the dying art of spin bowling that had given way to an incessant barrage of pace and seam bowling during the seventies and eighties. He is considered by many to be the best bowler of his type ever.

One of the most accessible sites is www.cricinfo.com. To find Warne, click on stats guru before entering the player’s name to produce detailed analyses of his performances. From these, activities focusing on representing and interpreting data can be generated for children of all abilities.

Less able pupils can produce a pictogram showing the number of wickets Warne has taken each year at his favourite Woolloongabba ground in Brisbane. Next, show how many of these matches were won, lost and drawn by producing different symbols for each method of dismissal. Then ask simple questions such as: Which were Warne’s most and least successful years? 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. Construct a bar chart comparing his performances.

A pie chart can be used to help average ability children analyse the percentage of his team’s wickets Warne has taken against each country at Brisbane. Ask them to find out how England has fared against Warne 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 and 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, plotting wickets taken against runs scored off him. 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 can show which batters Warne and each of the other Australian bowlers dismissed in a particular match and how many each opponent scored.

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