Mindbenders

Alastair Cook and The Freaky Coincidence

What was the chance of that?!


Remarkable coincidences make good news stories, and over the years I've recorded a few items about them for Radio 4's numbers programme More or Less. But there was one freakish coincidence that the programme created itself.

Several years ago I did a More or Less item comparing the statistical performances of two England cricketers, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen.  At the end of the interview Tim Harford asked me who I'd expect to score the next hundred for England, Cook or Pietersen.  "Cook" I said, emphatically. 

A few days later, sure enough, Alastair Cook scored a mammoth 190 for England.  But that isn't the coincidence.

In the next programme Tim Harford revisited the story, and having praised my prediction, and knowing that it had involved a hefty slice of luck, followed it with a booming echoey voice that said:  "WE'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, EASTAWAY".  

Now it just so happens my sister in Scotland is an avid Radio 4.listener. 

It was Friday afternoon, and she had just finished a meeting in snowy Aviemore and was leaving work.  She climbed into her car, stuck in the keys and switched on the radio.  The first thing she heard was a booming voice:  "WE'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, EASTAWAY".  She practically had a heart attack.  What had she done?  Had the car been booby-trapped? Was she being stalked?  She told me later that it had taken her a minute to get her head straight and work out what had happened.

I mean...what are the chances?