Saturday, 24 January 2015

David Warner vs Rohit Sharma

Over the past couple of days I've been called a troll, a Jonathan Agnew fan and even an Australia on twitter, because I have a position that is somewhat different from others on the David Warner vs Rohit Sharma incident. The problem is that a nuanced view doesn't fit neatly inside a 140 character window, and so my views have been missinterpreted. Part of that is because people seem to have very absolute views on the matter, when I don't think what happened is really very black and white.

First of all I'll talk about my system of ethics with sledging and other play, and what I consider acceptable, then I'll look at the Warner-Sharma confrontation specifically.

Sledging is an attempt to get a psychological advantage over another player. For me this is part of the game. However, there are limits to what is acceptable. Some examples of forms that are acceptable (in my opinion) are fielders encouraging the bowler in a way that the batsman can hear and that might get into a batsman's head. For example "That's 4 dot balls in a row now" "He's got no idea about the short one" "Look at how he's holding the bat with his bottom hand, I reckon his coach will have words with him about that afterwards. It's causing him to push the bottom of the bat in. I reckon a half volley outside off will see him nick out here." These comments make the batsman doubt either their technique or their form, and can cause them to play false shots.

Likewise batting advice to the batsman is acceptable, even if it's not always genuine. The below example (about 1:20 in) where Hadlee gives Botham some advice on how to play his bowling is a classic. Botham may well have been late on the shot because he was thinking about what Hadlee had said and had anticipated a different delivery.



I f the fielding side feel that the batsmen are doing something underhanded, such at taking a run when the ball was dead, they are entitled to express their displeasure to them.

The more interesting questions are what is unacceptable. Here is my list:

Threats of violence that don't involve the playing of the game. For example "I'm going to break your ribs with the next ball" is acceptable. Likewise "If those close fielders stay there, I'm going to still play my shots and they will get hurt." Both of these, however, need to be in context. A bowler/batsman shouldn't be randomly threatening violence willy-nilly, but in the heat of an exchange they are fine. "I'll see you in the car park afterwards and smash your face in," however is not acceptable.

Racial slurs are not acceptable. They are not acceptable directed at a player or spoken about a player. There's a story about some things that Shane Thompson said to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to try and goad them into bowling short at him (rather than yorkers) that are totally unacceptable things to have been said on a cricket pitch.

Abuse for the sake of it is unacceptable. This includes most (but not all) send-offs. There can be time for a witty send off, provided it is brief and concludes an ongoing conversation. Prolonged send-offs, especially abusive ones, are completely unacceptable.

Likewise abusing someone to get under their skin, without there being any relation to the game or without it being in the context of an ongoing conversation is not on. The way that Fleming subjected Smith to a torrent of nastiness when he arrived at the crease may have helped New Zealand tie the series, but it was not something that New Zealand fans should be proud of.

There are other difficult situations, but generally it is fine to sledge, provided it is done in a way that has a purpose, and doesn't cross the line into pure abuse.

Now lets look at the Warner-Sharma situation. Here's my summary of what happened, as far as I understood it.

1. Rohit Sharma was slightly outside his ground, as he's entitled to be.
2. David Warner threw the ball towards the stumps.
3. The ball was very wide of the mark, and (only just) missed Sharma, and then evaded Haddin.
4. Sharma and Raina then proceeded to run an overthrow.
5. Warner thought that the ball had deflected off Sharma and got angry that they ran an overthrow contrary to established protocol.
6. Warner told Sharma that he was unimpressed
7. Sharma said something to Warner in Hindi. Warner speaks a few words of Hindi and didn't understand the full message but was upset by what he did understand.
8. Warner shouted at Sharma to speak English.
9. Sharma repeated his message in English as the umpires separated the players.

The one key point here is number 2. David Warner is a fantastic fielder. He has produced a few blinding run outs from direct hits. One of the impressive things about his fielding is just how often he hits the stumps. Given his ability, the fact that he missed the stumps by about 3m from close range is peculiar. The fact that he almost hit Sharma was concerning. How off target it was can be seen by the fact that Haddin stepped twice, then dived full length, and still didn't get to the ball.

He thought that he had hit Sharma with the throw, and that, therefore, Sharma shouldn't take a run. He didn't appologise for hitting Sharma, which would normally happen. It makes me wonder if he was aiming to hit Sharma with the throw. For me that is the key thing that was wrong with that incident.

What Warner said after that was in keeping with his understanding that Sharma had taken a run he would not normally be entitled to take. Sharma speaking Hindi successfully got in the head of Warner, and I don't have a particular problem with that. Warner's reaction, likewise, was totally understandable in context. The only issue, and it's a big one, was if Warner deliberately tried to hit Sharma with the ball.

If (in the opinion of the match referee) he did, then it would be a level 2 offence and he should be banned for a couple of games. Instead Warner was charged with a level 1 offence for "using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting." As he had been found guilty of a similar offense within the past 12 months it was automatically raised to a level 2 offense, but he received the minimum fine for that offence, of 50% of his match fee.

The thing that I don't understand is how he was found guilty of that at all. As far as I can see he didn't abuse Sharma, and he didn't use any offensive gestures that I could see. If Sharma had spoken to him in English, then asking him to "speak English" would have been offensive, but given that Sharma didn't actually speak English, it was a perfectly reasonable request (despite not being delivered in a particularly reasonable manner). In the verbal altercation, Warner and Sharma acted equally badly, but not nearly badly enough for a charge.

If the ICC Code of Conduct was applied correctly here, either Warner would have been charged with deliberately throwing the ball at Rohit Sharma or he wouldn't have been charged at all.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Comparing between eras part 2. The survey results

In the previous post I looked at some New Zealand batsmen throughout the years and compared them, by trying to take into account some of the factors that might have batting either easier or harder for them.

I did this by looking at the runs that each player scored at a particular ground, and then looking at how easy/difficult that ground was to score at during that player's career. After that I allocated each ground a modifier value, and multiplied the runs scored at each ground by that ground's modifier. As a result (for example) the 188 runs that Martin Crowe scored at the Bourda in Georgetown were worth 164.5, because (during Crowe's era) it was a batting friendly pitch. However, his 120 runs that he scored at Karachi were worth 135.1 because that ground favoured bowlers.

I wanted to try the technique across a wider range of batsmen, so I put a simple request on twitter, for people to send me their top 5 batsmen. The tweets started pouring in.



I received a few humerous replies such as 5 votes for Rohit Sharma, 5 votes for Graham Thorpe and my personal favourite:



But eventually I had 159 serious lists of 5.

From the top 20 (plus ties) I then worked out their Normalised Averages. I left out two players, Barry Richards and WG Grace, as neither of their test careers were really the reason that people put them in the list. For both, test matches made up less than 5% of their first class career. I'll deal with them (and Charles Bannerman) in a future post.

Here's the list:

RankNameVotesAverageNorm Average
1Don Bradman11999.94101.03
2Sachin Tendulkar11253.7954.10
3Brian Lara10852.8954.41
4Viv Richards8450.2454.96
5Ricky Ponting5551.8552.50
6Kumar Sangakkara5258.4558.27
7Gary Sobers3157.7857.71
8Rahul Dravid2852.3152.73
9Jacques Kallis2755.3759.55
10Jack Hobbs2456.9563.01
11Barry Richards1272.57*
11Wally Hammond1258.4658.44
13AB de Villiers1152.1052.99
13Steve Waugh1151.0653.56
15WG Grace1032.29*
16Graeme Pollock960.9759.91
16Sunil Gavaskar951.1254.76
18Herbert Sutcliffe460.7362.00
18Dennis Compton450.0653.44
18Martin Crowe445.3747.91
18Adam Gilchrist447.6149.24
18Allan Border449.5454.30

There are a couple of interesting things here. Less than 3/4 of people picked Bradman. Often they said that it was because they had never watched him bat, and that's understandable, but I would have thought his extraordinary average alone was sufficient to put him in the mix. You don't need to know much about batting averages to know that Bradman's numbers are almost unbelievable.

The tendency to only vote for batsmen that people had seen meant that players who had played since 2000 had to score at a lower average than players who had played before that. Here's a graph comparing the number of votes that a batsmen got with their normalised average:


There was also a tendency for people to nominate players who had done well against their sides. Most votes out of England included Brian Lara who hit both of hit triple centuries against England, while votes from India often included Ricky Ponting who averaged mid fifties against the Indians.

Here's the list ordered by their Normalised Average. I've added in two other older players who only got one vote each, Ken Barrington and Everton Weekes but who both had exceptional records.

NameAverageNorm Average
Don Bradman99.94101.03
Ken Barrington58.6764.00
Jack Hobbs56.9563.01
Herbert Sutcliffe60.7362.00
Graeme Pollock60.9759.91
Jacques Kallis55.3759.55
Everton Weekes59.4659.39
Wally Hammond58.4658.44
Kumar Sangakkara58.4558.27
Gary Sobers57.7857.71
Viv Richards50.2454.96
Sunil Gavaskar51.1254.76
Brian Lara52.8954.41
Allan Border49.5454.30
Sachin Tendulkar53.7954.10
Steve Waugh51.0653.56
Dennis Compton50.0653.44
AB de Villiers52.1052.99
Rahul Dravid52.3152.73
Ricky Ponting51.8552.50
Adam Gilchrist47.6149.24
Martin Crowe45.3747.91

A couple of interesting things here are the way that players are rewarded for scoring on the harder pitches. Sutcliffe and Hobbs played together through a large part of their careers. But Hobbs was the one that scored the most runs when the conditions were the hardest for batting. As a result Hobbs' average increased by 6.06 while Sutcliffe's only increased by 1.27.

Jacques Kallis likewise scored a lot of runs at Newlands, which has been a graveyard for batsmen, and he has been rewarded for that. Kumar Sangakkara however, has scored a lot of his at the SSC, which is a place that batsmen have prospered, and so that saw his normalised average end up lower than his actual average.

I still have a number of players that I'd like to look at such as Victor Trumper, Bruce Mitchell, Zaheer Abbas and Andy Flower. But there's plenty of time for that in the next installment.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Comparing between Eras, Part 1, Crowe, Sutcliffe, Turner and Williamson.

When you write a stats piece, it's not uncommon to get criticism. It's also not unwelcome. I think my statistics have become better, and my writing has improved through interaction that I've had with readers.

Some criticism is not so welcome or useful. The person that said that he was going to "come to England and burn my house down for being a bias English" for example. This gentleman was upset that I said that Matt Prior had a better batting average than MS Dhoni.

Then there's the type that makes me think. Just after the declaration in the second test in Wellington, I tweeted a comparison of a bunch of New Zealand batsmen after 71 test innings. I received an interesting reply from someone that knows a bit about batting.

Barry Richards, the great South African batsman tweeted me back saying that Williamson was a nice kid, but couldn't be compared with Crowe.

Over the next couple of days we sent tweets back and forth discussing the concept of comparing different players from different eras.

One of the points that he made is that statistics don't take into account the context of an innings. There are times that an innings of 30 can be a match winner, while other times an innings of 70 can be meaningless. This is true, and in part there is not a lot that can be done about this. The hope is that these sort of innings end up cancelling themselves out.

Another point that he made was that the pitches, outfields and bowling were all different. How do you compare a player who has played against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to one that hasn't? Sabina Park in the 80's was a minefield. Sabina Park now is a featherbed. How can you compare someone who played on those different pitches. To hit a six used to require the ball to be hit over the fence. Now it just needs to hit the rope, that's placed 2 m inside the speakers that are 1 m inside the advertising hoardings that are 1 m inside the boundary.

Likewise it's easier to bat against some bowlers than others. You would expect a batsman playing against Garner, Holding, Marshall and Roberts to find things more difficult than one playing against Powell, Rampaul, Sammy and Bravo.

It's impossible to account for these factors perfectly. However, there are some ways that we can deal with these differences. In order to be able to answer some of Richards' issues I decided to look at the results for some of the New Zealand batsmen at each ground. Then I looked at the results of every top order batsman at that ground throughout each player's career. I decided to normalise to having an average of 40. So a ground where the batsman averaged 32, I would multiply any run scored at that ground by 1.25.

For example during Martin Crowe's career batsmen averaged 53.86 at Bulawayo Athletic Club. This means that any runs scored at that ground would only count for 0.743 of a run. Accordingly, Crowe's 48 runs there would count as 35.6 runs. There is an advantage here for any player who played for a team with a really good bowling attack, but it's hard to account for that completely.

I decided to look at Crowe, Turner, Sutcliffe and Williamson to see how Williamson compares to some of the greats. In the last post I showed that Williamson now has a higher test average than any of the greats of NZ cricket had, and had also scored more runs, at a higher average than they had after the same number of innings.

You can click on a players name to see their stats, or skip the individual grounds by clicking on table:
Crowe
Sutcliffe
Turner
Williamson
Table

Martin Crowe:

GroundActual RunsFactorMod. Runs
Adelaide Oval - Australia1450.951137.9
AMI Stadium, Christchurch - New Zealand3891.352526
Asgiriya Stadium, Kandy - Sri Lanka341.43348.7
Barabati Stadium, Cuttack - India151.50622.6
Basin Reserve, Wellington - New Zealand11230.9081019.3
Bourda, Georgetown, Guyana - West Indies1880.875164.5
Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane - Australia2781.088302.4
Bulawayo Athletic Club - Zimbabwe480.74335.6
Carisbrook, Dunedin - New Zealand1411.114157
Colombo Cricket Club Ground - Sri Lanka721.20286.5
Eden Park, Auckland - New Zealand7121.1783.5
Edgbaston, Birmingham - England361.12640.5
Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore - Pakistan2161.065230.1
Harare Sports Club - Zimbabwe2011.076216.2
Headingley, Leeds - England381.1443.3
Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad - Pakistan411.06143.5
Kennington Oval, London - England460.94843.6
Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados - West Indies161.11317.8
Kingsmead, Durban - South Africa281.13931.9
Lord's, London - England3271.006329.1
M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore - India351.31145.9
Melbourne Cricket Ground - Australia1611.139183.4
National Stadium, Karachi - Pakistan1201.126135.1
Newlands, Cape Town - South Africa231.23628.4
Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad - Pakistan400.87334.9
Old Trafford, Manchester - England1850.996184.2
Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad - West Indies51.4117.1
Sabina Park, Jamaica - West Indies71.1388
Seddon Park, Hamilton - New Zealand361.16441.9
Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo - Sri Lanka1261.094137.8
Sydney Cricket Ground - Australia80.957.6
The Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg - South Africa831.319109.5
Trent Bridge, Nottingham - England2131.003213.6
Tyronne Fernando Stadium, Moratuwa - Sri Lanka301.21136.3
W.A.C.A. Ground, Perth - Australia2781.064295.7

Crowe's actual average was 45.37. His modified average is 47.91

Bert Sutcliffe:

GroundRunsFactorMod. Runs
AMI Stadium, Christchurch - New Zealand3031.25378.6
Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore - Pakistan291.19434.6
Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka - Pakistan201.53230.6
Basin Reserve, Wellington - New Zealand1261.508190
Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai - India1150.972111.8
Carisbrook, Dunedin - New Zealand1662.014334.3
Eden Gardens, Kolkata - India1871.119209.2
Eden Park, Auckland - New Zealand1981.329263.1
Edgbaston, Birmingham - England571.08561.9
Ellis Park, Johannesburg - South Africa1131.074121.3
Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi - India2860.805230.1
Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore - Pakistan230.96522.2
Headingley, Leeds - England1201.09130.8
Kennington Oval, London - England1711.177201.3
Kingsmead, Durban - South Africa361.27946
Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad - India1540.53382
Lord's, London - England751.21791.2
National Stadium, Karachi - Pakistan631.18674.7
Nehru Stadium, Madras - India1431.058151.3
Newlands, Cape Town - South Africa660.93161.5
Old Trafford, Manchester - England1791.097196.4
Pindi Club Ground, Rawalpindi - Pakistan72.51917.6
St George's Park, Port Elizabeth - South Africa901.316118.5

Sutcliffe's actual average was 40.10. His modified average is 46.46

Glenn Turner:

GroundRunsFactorMod. Runs
Adelaide Oval - Australia541.0355.6
AMI Stadium, Christchurch - New Zealand6641.094726.3
Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka - Pakistan1361.197162.7
Basin Reserve, Wellington - New Zealand3491.241433.1
Bourda, Georgetown, Guyana - West Indies2590.768198.9
Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai - India291.10632.1
Carisbrook, Dunedin - New Zealand611.41486.2
Eden Park, Auckland - New Zealand3811.137433.1
Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore - Pakistan90.9398.5
Green Park, Kanpur - India1480.91134.7
Headingley, Leeds - England921.403129.1
Kennington Oval, London - England780.99677.7
Kensington Oval, Barbados - West Indies211.0321.6
Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad - India172.92849.8
Lord's, London - England521.1157.7
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai - India421.30955
Melbourne Cricket Ground - Australia61.0836.5
Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad - Pakistan510.83242.4
Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad - West Indies1481.116165.2
Sabina Park, Jamaica - West Indies2440.864210.8
Trent Bridge, Nottingham - England201.11522.3
Vidarbha C.A. Ground, Nagpur - India591.57993.2
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai - India711.16182.5

Turner's actual average was 44.64. His modified average is 49.03

Kane Williamson:

Groundrunsmodifiermodified runs
Basin Reserve, Wellington - New Zealand6840.973665.5
Bellerive Oval, Hobart - Australia531.17962.5
Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane - Australia190.90717.2
Dubai International Cricket Stadium - U.A.E.430.99942.9
Eden Park, Auckland - New Zealand2081.085225.7
Galle International Stadium - Sri Lanka100.9689.7
Hagley Oval, Christchurch - New Zealand850.94180
Headingley, Leeds - England161.06417
Kensington Oval, Barbados - West Indies2041.353276
Lord's, London - England661.09272.1
M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore - India301.14934.5
McLean Park, Napier - New Zealand41.8597.4
Newlands, Cape Town - South Africa280.98427.6
P Sara Oval, Colombo - Sri Lanka1531.024156.7
Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad - West Indies940.99793.7
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo - Zimbabwe1170.885103.6
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad - India1570.892140.1
Sabina Park, Jamaica - West Indies1451.503217.9
Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad - India1310.852111.6
Seddon Park, Hamilton - New Zealand2421.362329.6
Sharjah Cricket Stadium - U.A.E.1920.859165
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi - U.A.E.260.81821.3
Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, Dhaka - Bangladesh620.93357.8
Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua - West Indies190.7714.6
St George's Park, Port Elizabeth - South Africa151.05115.8
University Oval, Dunedin - New Zealand350.82128.7
Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur - India80.9747.8
Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong - Bangladesh1880.788148.2

Williamson's average is currently 45.97. His modified average is 47.73.

Final table

NameAverageModified average
Sutcliffe40.1046.46
Turner44.6449.03
Crowe45.3747.91
Williamson45.9747.73

After doing this analysis it seems that Crowe and Turner are still ahead of Williamson. However, he's catching them quickly.

Once I started doing this for these batsmen, I started to wonder what would happen if we did this for all the greats. To help with that I did a quick crowd-source on twitter by asking people who they thought the 5 greatest batsmen ever were. In my next post on this topic, I'll look at how the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sir Donald Bradman, WG Grace, Bruce Mitchell and Sir Vivian Richards stack up, once this modification is made. Check back here to see the results of the survey and also the batsmen's numbers.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Mini-session Analysis, 2nd test, New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, Basin Reserve 2014/15

Here is the mini-session analysis for the second test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Basin Reserve, Wellington

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

Where does Kane Williamson sit?

The first time I met Brendon McCullum was when he and I were both on the same flight from Miami to St Kitts in 2012, and we both had to wait about 2 hours in for our flight. I introduced myself to him, and he graciously put down his golf magazine and chatted to me for about 30 minutes.

After the flight, while we were both waiting for our bags (which took forever), he found out that we were staying at the same hotel, and so he offered me a lift there, provided I didn't mind going via the training ground. On the way to the ground, he got a phone call from John Wright asking if he was likely to be able to play the next day. At this point he had been travelling for 37 hours, without much sleep, and certainly did not look like he was going to be good to play. He said as much to Wright and then found out that Taylor was injured, and Kane Williamson was going to be standing in as captain.

After he hung up, McCullum couldn't contain his disappointment with that decision. He said something along the lines of "it's not that he's not capable of leading the side, it's more that he's not established in the side yet, and he's still learning his game. He doesn't need the pressure of being the captain-in-waiting to go with it. The kid is so good. He's either going to be the best batsman we've produced since Martin Crowe, or the best batsman we've ever produced, and it's our job to manage him properly to allow him to be great."

Williamson scored 9 off 17, but New Zealand went on to win the match, due largely to a good spell from Southee and Oram, and some suicidal running between wickets from the West Indies.

However the claim that Williamson could be our best ever batsman has stuck with me. Yesterday he completed an epic (but certainly not chanceless) innings of 242* to take New Zealand from a position of some trouble to a being in the box seat.

Since my conversation with McCullum, Williamson has gone on to be quite impressive with the bat. In the past 2 and a half years he has averaged 50.28 in tests and 49.25 in ODI's. In the matches before McCullum's pronouncement he had averaged 36.05 in tests and 35.75 at a strike rate of 83.85 in ODI's.

He's only 24, and there's still plenty of time left, but if his career was to end today, he would still be considered one of New Zealand's best ever batsmen. Here are his numbers, first in tests:

NameInningsRunsAverageCompleted innings per hundred
KS Williamson71303445.967.33
LRPL Taylor113463145.408.50
MD Crowe131544445.367.06
MH Richardson65277644.7715.50
GM Turner73299144.649.57
AH Jones74292244.279.43
B Sutcliffe76272740.1013.60
SP Fleming189717240.0619.89
BB McCullum159587038.8713.73
CD McMillan91311638.4613.50
JG Wright148533437.8211.75
BJ Watling49157837.5710.50
JV Coney85266837.5723.67
NJ Astle137470237.0211.55
JDP Oram59178036.329.80

There is an important omission here, JF Reid only just missed out on this table, as he only played 19 tests, for an average of 46 and centuries per completed inning of 4.67. However I decided to make the cut off 20 tests to allow for diversity in conditions, and a sufficient sample size, and then noticed that Reid had missed out after that.

Ranked by completed innings per hundred, Crowe is still slightly ahead of Williamson, but if we look at the time since my conversation with McCullum his conversion rate has come down closer to 6.5.

In ODI's batting average isn't always the best way to measure success. Someone that scores 60 off 100 balls every match will have a fantastic average, but they will not be helping their team as much as someone who scores 45 off 40 every match. To counter that some statisticians use a statistic called batting index to measure success. This is basically the average multiplied by the strike rate then divided by 100. If we sort by batting average, Glen Turner is ahead, and Williamson second, but by batting index, Williamson pulls clear. Here are the top 15:

NameRunsAverageStrike RateBatting Index
KS Williamson 204543.5180.6735.10
LRPL Taylor 458041.2682.5534.06
L Ronchi 55729.31109.4332.07
GM Turner 159847.0068.0531.98
JD Ryder 136233.2195.3131.65
MJ Guptill 295337.8580.2030.36
RG Twose 271738.8175.4029.26
MD Crowe 470438.5572.6328.00
BB McCullum 520030.0590.5627.21
SB Styris 448332.4879.4125.79
NJ Astle 709034.9272.6425.37
CL Cairns 488129.2283.7624.47
PG Fulton 133432.5372.7723.67
RJ Nicol 58630.8475.5123.29
SP Fleming 800732.4171.4023.14

Sometimes it can be dangerous to look at a players's career based on their final average. One of the all time greats in my mind was Sir Frank Worrell who averaged 61 before his 30th birthday, but then he was convinced to come back as a specialist captain, and he averaged 41 after that. As a result it can be better to look at batsmen at the same stage of their careers.

Here's a list of the NZ players who went on to average over 40 after 71 innings:

NameRunsAverage
Williamson303445.97
Jones291045.47
Turner295245.42
Crowe294845.35
Taylor286842.81
Sutcliffe261640.25
Fleming247636.41

Again we see Williamson at the top. However, this time it is not so clear. If he had been dismissed for 30 instead of 242* in his last innings, he would have been on 2822 runs and his average would have been 42.12 which would have put him 5th in the list on both counts. A better picture might be to look at a graph of the career progression around that mark.

Here's the runs scored and averages of the 8 top averaging batsmen in their 60th to 80th innings:



We can see the impact of the last innings, but we can also see that there is a trend here that this innings was just a part of.

It is still too early to say that Williamson is our best batsman since Crowe, let alone that he is our best ever, but he is certainly in the conversation.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

New Zealand's remarkable consistency under McCullum

New Zealand have traditionally had reasonable bowlers and not very good batsmen.

Even New Zealand's best batsmen, Crowe, Reid, Turner and Sutcliffe didn't manage to hold the team together often enough for New Zealand to regularly score big scores.

Before the year 2000 New Zealand had only managed to pass 400 on 52 occasions. (roughly 10% of innings). From 2000 until the end of 2012, they managed to pass 400 on 32 occasions (roughy 17% if innings). Since then, under Brendon McCullum, they have managed to pass 400 on 12 occasions in 32 innings (37.5%).

The consistency has been remarkable.

Under McCullum New Zealand have scored under 200 in 27% of innings. The next best was Fleming with 29.3%. Under every other captain who had the team for at least 5 matches, New Zealand scored less than 200 on at least one third of their innings.

This graphic displays the difference quite well:


Under McCullum, New Zealand have scored over 400 more often than they scored over 300 with most captains.

The team's ability to score 400 regularly is actually impressive when compared globally also.

I decided to look at how often a team scored 400, divided by the number of times they were bowled out.  This eliminates situations where the match situation makes scoring 400 unrealistic, for example where a team scores 90/3 to win a match or declares for 385/7 to set up a win.

Here's the table:

Captain400'sAll Outs400s per AO
DG Bradman 16210.762
SR Waugh 36560.643
AJ Strauss 27470.574
MJK Smith 11210.524
SC Ganguly 27520.519
RT Ponting 45890.506
SM Gavaskar 21420.5
BB McCullum 12240.5
Imran Khan 20410.488
Mushtaq Mohammad 9200.45
GC Smith 501120.446
MS Dhoni 33760.434
MS Atapattu 9210.429
Waqar Younis9210.429
SM Pollock 11260.423
N Kapil Dev 15360.417
DPMD Jayawardene 17420.405
MJ Clarke 18450.4
WM Woodfull 12300.4

Some other New Zealand names on the list are Fleming, 0.298; Vettori 0.214 and Howarth 0.212.

It is still very early days, but this New Zealand team under Brendon McCullum are starting to show some real promise.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Grief and Success: The Blackcaps response to Phillip Hughes

The New Zealand team put out their bats in memory of Hughes
In the wake of the death of Phillip Hughes and the following outstanding performance by the Blackcaps, I was interested in the opinion of a sports psychologist as to if the two were likely to be connected.  I rang Vicki Aitken, a High Performance Sports Mentor who has a background working with a number of sports, including cricket.

I felt that it would be interesting to find out if she felt that the impressive performance might have been a part of how the New Zealand team responded to the death of Hughes, who was a personal friend of a number of members of the team.

Here's her response to my question:

So how does this play mentally?  I’m speculating from a distance but I would suggest a number of factors may have been involved here:

I believe there are 6 aspects that go into top performance one of which is the need to have a holistic life with good life balance going on. A death can help you put your own life into perspective and the game back into its rightful place as being exactly that a game (albeit a great game!). Athletes notoriously perform better when there is life balance and or perspective going on. The comments from Ross Taylor about playing naturally and like a kid give this argument some credibility.
Lack of emotional response can be a two edge sword. The positive side is that when they make a mistake or error by not responding emotionally rather than dwelling on the past it allows them to stay in the moment more easily which is where you need to be to perform at your very best.
Phil Hughes death (and commemoration of his life) can also be a motivational factor. Athletes have been known to use and attribute their successes at highly emotional times like this to their mate or loved one. Where thoughts are filled between balls of the man in question. So that by the time they switch on again to face the next ball they are 110% focused and in the moment inspired to do so by the legend that has now gone. Two golf examples spring to mind where this has happened: Darren Clarke at the Ryder Cup in 2006 shortly after his wife died of cancer, he played remarkably well helping the Europeans to victory. And back in the 1995 Ben Crenshaw used the death of his legend coach Harvey Penick the week before to go on and win the Masters.


Vicki Aitken – High Performance Sports Mentor – BA, PGDipPE, MPhEd; BASES Accredited, SESNZ Member.    www.hpsportsacademy.com