Professor Stephen Hawking, a man who once held the position of Lucasian professor for mathematics, has turned his considerable intellect to the pressing matter of England’s chances at the World Cup. The video (above) from Wednesday's Newsnight shows the author of A Brief History Of Time pondering who would be top scorer – Rooney or Sturridge.
When asked who was going to win the tournament, Hawking said: “I am an optimist. I like to think my work gives people hope and allows them to dream. Therefore I’m not going to use mathematics to crush anyone’s World Cup dream. Plus it’s a funny old game.”
The thorny issue of penalties was raised, with Hawking opting for “no brainers” Baines and Lambert “who have 100% records this season”. Hawking added: “Gerrard and Lampard have also been consistently strong from the spot. I am selecting them on their ability to score rather than their experience. The study shows there is no correlation between experience and ability to score. The fifth spot is the one I worry about. Neither Rooney nor Sturridge have good records despite their otherwise great eyes for goal. Let’s hope we wrap-up any shoot-out in four penalties.”
However, England’s chances don’t look so good should we come across the Germans in the later stages. “We did study geopolitical factors and the answer is not great I’m afraid,” said Hawking. “I’m assuming by foe you are referencing the war. England tends to fare significantly worse against teams we have officially declared war on. We have won only 33% of games against countries we have officially declared war on, compared to 58% of those that we haven’t. Maybe our opponents try harder if they have an axe to grind. Jeremy [Paxman] is more of a history man so ask him.”