Thursday, 12 June 2014

Some stats after the first test in Jamaica

BJ Watling

BJ Watling has taken 5 dismissals again. He's now joined Parore and McCullum as the only New Zealanders to have taken 5 dismissals in an innings 4 times. Ian Smith only did it 3 times.

He also leads the way in terms of 8 dismissals in a match. He's done it 3 times now, there have only been 3 other times a kiwi has done it, Once each for Smith, Lees and McCullum. He's 5th overall for that, behind Boucher, Gilchrist, Healy and Marsh. (But they all had much longer careers)

He's taken 2.296 dismissals per innings. Nobody who has kept for more than 3 matches has managed that.

He also leads the way for NZ with the bat, averaging 47.25 when he is keeping. The next best is McCullum at 34.18, followed by Blain at 32.30, Parore at 26.94 and Smith at 25.56.

Globally he's 4th of all time, behind AB de Villiers (56.96) Andy Flower (53.70) and Adam Gilchrist (only 0.35 ahead on 47.60). The guy that has traditionally been considered the best ever is Ames, in 5th. He averaged 43.40.

NZ under McCullum

New Zealand have won 4 and lost 4 under McCullum. There have not been many New Zealand captains who had a winning record. Only Fleming, Coney and Howarth have winning records, and Fleming and Coney only by one match.

Under McCullum, they have averaged a collective 33.70, which is only slightly behind the 33.99 that NZ averaged under Wright, but they were ahead of it before they came out swinging to try and get quick runs in the second innings.

McCullum has led NZ to a score of 400 in 9 out of his 15 matches. Only Steve Waugh has a better % of getting 400s.

To put that in context, New Zealand averaged 26 under Taylor with roughly the same players, despite having played in South Africa and England under McCullum.

Boult - Southee combination

In matches where they have played together, Boult and Southee have a combined average of 24.08. This puts them close to the all time great mark (McGrath Gillespie averaged 23.02 and McGrath - Lee averaged 25.32). They are clear of New Zealand's other very good combinations - Bond & Martin averaged a collective 25.01 and Chatfield & Hadlee averaged 25.39.

Peter Fulton

Fulton has only scored 306 runs in his last 10 tests, at an average of 17. However he has still averaged about 30 since he came back, which is still quite high by NZ standards. Even with these games, and the ones where he came in earlier, he's still New Zealand's 11th highest averaging opener ever, one place ahead of Guptill.

His double hundreds against England were not flukes. He was in very good form at the time. In the 21 innings leading up to them he averaged 52.7 in first class cricket. But in the 31 innings since then he has averaged only 18.7. I think it is possible for the selectors to drop Fulton despite still keeping faith in him. They need to say "you are not in great form, but we know that you are a capable player. Go away and get some runs under your belt and we'll pick you straight away."

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bowling in the IPL

Last year I had a look at how much wickets cost in the IPL, and devised a formula to calculate the value of a bowler in a team. I used that formula in a number of other cases throughout last year, and it seemed to bring some fairly sensible results each time, so I've decided to try it again with this years IPL as the first stage draws to a close.

Here is the top 15 bowlers, with their modified run rates. This takes into account the benefit that they have provided to the other bowlers in the team through the wickets that they have taken. I limited it to who had bowled at least 10 overs.

NameTeamOversWicketsModified Run Rate
Sandeep SharmaPunjab1172.45
VR AaronBangalore14.582.97
SP NarineKolkata2093.10
YS ChahalBangalore1973.47
SL MalingaMumbai15.373.61
AR PatelPunjab1864.06
MM SharmaChennai15.584.17
KW RichardsonRajasthan1564.40
PV TambeRajasthan2074.60
R DhawanPunjab13.244.65
R AshwinChennai17.554.65
B KumarHyderabad15.364.71
MA StarcBangalore2074.80
IC PandeyChennai1534.87
R BhatiaRajasthan1664.94

Somewhat unsurprisingly the top name in the list is the current rising star of the IPL - Sandeep Sharma.

His heady medium pace bowling has been a big part of the success that Kings XI have enjoyed. Often medium pacers can enjoy good results in limited overs cricket through consistency, But Sharma offers something more than that.

Right arm inswinger is a style of bowling that is normally only seen at the junior grades. Top senior batsmen normally develop a technique that allows them to avoid being dismissed by it, and then they can just wait for the inevitable bad delivery that slips into the pads and can be dispatched.

Sharma has managed to bowl consistently enough that he has only been hit for one leg-side boundary in 11 overs. If players are having to look on the off side for their runs from an inswing bowler then they are at risk of leaving the gate open.

If Sharma manages to continue to bowl as consistently, he could be potentially be a real force, not just for Kings XI, but also for India. He could be particularly useful in the World Cup in Australia/New Zealand where the ability to move the ball in the air is a real asset.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Is it game over if you lose more than 2 wickets in the powerplay?

I recently observed this conversation on twitter:


It immediately made me wonder if Aakash was correct. Do you lose if you are more than 2 wickets in the power play of a T20 International.

I decided to find out. I felt that it was probably best to only look at situations where a team had batted first, as there is not any external scoreboard pressure (or lack thereof) interfering with the batsmen's mind sets.

I looked at every match where there was a result inside 20 overs (I ignored matches that had ended in a super-over or bowl-off) and looked at how many wickets down the team were after 6 overs. I didn't count "retired hurt" as a wicket, despite there being a change of batsmen and the batting team losing momentum similar to when a wicket falls.

Once I did that I came up with some quite interesting numbers.

Wickets DownWinsLosesWinning %
0411869.5%
1744860.7%
2525150.5%
3113623.4%
451033.3%
5030%

It's fairly clear here that losing wickets early hurts the probability of winning. This is not really a surprise, often teams bat their best batsmen at the top, and the subsequent batsmen have to take fewer risks if there are not many wickets left above them. However while there are a lot of incidents of teams losing 1 or 2 wickets, our sample size is quite small for the other number of wickets. I've graphed it, adding in a 95% confidence interval. This indicates what range we can expect the actual winning probability to lie in per wicket loss: The shorter the line, the more reliable the data.



We can clearly see the trend here. But we also notice the huge gap between being 2 down and being 3 down. There does seem to be a difference between losing 2 wickets or losing more than 2 wickets.

Accordingly I broke it down into 3 groups. Less than 2 wickets, 2 wickets or More than 2 wickets. Here's how that looks:


Roughly teams win two thirds of the matches where they lose less than 2 wickets, half of the matches where they lose two wickets and about a quarter of the matches where they lose more than 2 wickets.

I also broke it down further by team, and this holds true for almost every team. The only team that has won more than half of their matches when batting first and losing more than 2 wickets in the power play is Ireland. (Interestingly Ireland has the 4th best winning record of any team batting first, and then they are not far behind Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa).

Sri Lanka win just under 80% of t20's when they lose 2 or less wickets in the power play, but 20% when they lose 2 or more wickets. England win just over 60% if they keep their wickets in hand, but only 20% when they lose 3 or more in the power play.

With the World T20 getting underway, how the teams approach the first 6 overs could be a fascinating thing to keep an eye on.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Who are the most reliable 6 hitters

I noticed that the ICC have set up a new game, where you need to pick a player who is going to hit a 6.

This is an interesting option, as there are not many stats out there for how reliable batsmen are at hitting 6's. We know how many 6's a player has hit, but how regularly they hit them is another issue. For example, Aaron Finch has hit 21 sixes in the 9 matches he has played in the last 2 years. However those 21 sixes came in just 4 innings. In the other 5 matches he didn't hit any. Once he gets going he really starts to pepper the boundary. In comparison, Ziaur Rahman from Bangladesh has hit 10 sixes in the 11 matches he's played in that time. However he's hit those 10 sixes in 6 matches, meaning there are only 5 that he hasn't hit a six in. In other words Finch has hit more sixes per match, but Rahman is significantly more reliable.

As the ICC game is about either hitting a six or not, the most important stat is their reliability, not their sixes per match.

To help out anyone who is playing that game, I've compiled a list of the 6 hitting reliability of players who had played 5 or more matches in the last 2 years. I've listed everyone who has hit a 6 in 40% or more of the matches.

If you want to join my league - here's the link.

PlayerMatchesSixesInnings with a 6P(hits a 6)
SE Marsh (Aus)55480%
DR Smith (WI)916666.7%
Yuvraj Singh (India)1121763.6%
MDKJ Perera (SL)1114763.6%
AM Rahane (India)54360%
SR Watson (Aus)1430857.1%
RR Patel (Kenya)1417857.1%
MJ Guptill (NZ)1415857.1%
HD Rutherford (NZ)79457.1%
MN Waller (Zim)75457.1%
Gulbadin Naib (Afg)1112654.5%
Ziaur Rahman (Ban)1110654.5%
MEK Hussey (Aus)118654.5%
Mushfiqur Rahim (Ban)1311753.8%
BB McCullum (NZ)1726952.9%
KA Pollard (WI)1725952.9%
DJ Bravo (WI)19181052.6%
MN Samuels (WI)1626850%
MJ Lumb (Eng)1213650%
R Gunasekera (Can)84450%
JL Ontong (SA)66350%
MW Machan (Scot)64350%
CH Gayle (WI)1526746.7%
DA Warner (Aus)1522746.7%
LMP Simmons (WI)1112545.5%
MR Swart (Neth)1112545.5%
DA Miller (SA)117545.5%
AD Hales (Eng)2018945%
AJ Finch (Aus)921444.4%
Ahmed Shehzad (Pak)1614743.8%
Mahmudullah (Ban)1412642.9%
Mohammad Shahzad (Afg)1411642.9%
Asghar Stanikzai (Afg)75342.9%
LJ Wright (Eng)1920842.1%
DT Johnston (Ire)129541.7%
Shakib Al Hasan (Ban)127541.7%
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak)25201040%
GJ Bailey (Aus)2016840%
F du Plessis (SA)1511640%
RS Bopara (Eng)1010440%
NJ O'Brien (Ire)52240%

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Who should win the NZ cricket awards

I was asked by Tony Veitch to put together some stats for the different awards on offer for the New Zealand Cricket Awards tonight.

I could have just brought up a list of averages, but that's really not the CricketGeek style, so I decided to delve into things a little more closely.

One of the difficult things in cricket statistics is to compare bowling success with batting success. For example, which is better taking 5/84 or scoring 172? We need a device to compare the two disciplines.

I decided to compare each player's year with the historical averages for their position. For example, for batting I compared the batting average with year end batting averages throughout history. I had a cut off of 10 innings, as making a cut off much higher than that excludes too many players, as most teams play less than 10 tests per year. I then compared a player's average to the historical average of averages, and the standard deviation of averages to generate a z-score. (For more on Z-scores, see This NFL blog post)

I used batting average and bowling average for test cricket, as really what we care about is scoring runs and taking wickets. I wasn't totally happy with the results, as there was no advantage for the players who had maintained a high standard over a number of games, rather than just one. (James Neesham, for example, averaged 171 this season, but only over one match).  I first filtered out anyone who hadn't either batted in 10 matches or who had bowled less than 100 overs. Then I multiplied the z-score by the square root of the number of innings that they had applied their skill in, in order to get a fairer list. It only caused a couple of positional changes, but the new lists looked more appropriate.

Here's the test lists.

Player - SkillAverageRanking
LRPL Taylor - batting81.6012.3
BB McCullum - batting52.735.0
TG Southee - bowling20.073.8
TA Boult - bowling22.363.6
KS Williamson - batting47.213.4
BJ Watling - batting42.272.0
N Wagner - bowling30.421.1
CJ Anderson - bowling30.541.0
CJ Anderson - batting32.70-0.3
TA Boult - batting32.25-0.4

I would give the award to Ross Taylor. He scored 816 runs at an average of 81.60. He past 50 in half of his innings. McCullum, Southee, Boult and Williamson all had great years, but Taylor's average really makes his numbers stand out.

Next I looked at the ODI lists.

Here I decided to use the batting and bowling index developed by S Rajesh from Cricinfo (and me separately). Again I compared the players index to the historical data.

Here's the list:

Player - SkillIndexRanking
CJ Anderson - batting 84.4816.1
LRPL Taylor - batting 43.776.9
MJ Guptill - batting 44.226.4
KS Williamson - batting 39.044.7
MJ McClenaghan - bowling 23.871.1
NL McCullum - batting 26.230.9
JDS Neesham - bowling 23.690.8
CJ Anderson - bowling 24.850.7
KD Mills - bowling 25.970.7
L Ronchi - batting 22.93-0.1

Again a batsman takes the title. This, however was not particularly surprising. Anderson was immense with the bat, and generally the games were played on high-scoring pitches, which don't really flatter bowling statistics.

For the T20 award I used batting index, but my own metric for bowling. In a previous post I showed how each wicket worked out to roughly 5 runs in a t20. Accordingly we can take 5 runs off a bowler's total for every wicket they have taken. They then get a modified run rate. I used this to compare the NZ players' years to the historical data. This is a little less relevant, as there is not a lot of historical data (about 1/10 the quantity of test and ODI information) and also New Zealand only played 6 matches, so the sample size is very small.

Here is the list:

Player - SkillIndex/Modified run rateRanking
L Ronchi - batting221.1114.7
BB McCullum - batting101.084.1
AF Milne - bowling2.752.9
AP Devcich - batting73.341.7
C Munro - batting60.041.5
JDS Neesham - bowling5.000.5
JD Ryder - batting44.020.0
NL McCullum - batting42.25-0.1
NL McCullum - bowling5.64-0.3
HD Rutherford - batting40.02-0.3

Luke Ronchi is a bit of a surprise here, but I remember looking up his stats and being surprised as to how effective he has been in t20s recently. During the course of the year he averaged 133 at a strike rate of 166. Those are quite ridiculous numbers.

The last major prize left is the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal, for the best overall. For me that goes to Brendon McCullum. He managed to attract the attention of the whole nation with his 300, and he also captained the side particularly well across all the formats. There would be a fair argument for Taylor and Anderson, but for me, McCullum needs to be acknowledged some how, and that award seems appropriate.

Who would you give the overall award to?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mini-session Analysis 1st Test NZvInd, Eden Park 2013/14

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the first test between New Zealand and India at Eden Park, Auckland

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.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The McCullum Conundrum

There seems to be a regular pattern to cricket related chat in New Zealand. It often refers to Brendon McCullum.

A number of people want him dropped. They mention that he has only scored 1 hundred in the past 3 years. That he averages in the low 30's in test cricket and that he's too arrogant.

A roughly equal number of people want him to remain in the team, talking about how "form is temporary, class is permanent" and mentioning his successive fifties against England, his double century in India and his good captaincy.

While engaging in one of these fruitless (but fun) discussions, I noticed something surprising in his numbers. His away form has been horrible recently, but his home form has been remarkably good.

Here's what I mean. He has played exactly the same number of tests both home and away. In 41 tests at home McCullum has scored 2531 runs at a respectable average of 41.49. However, in 41 tests away he has scored 2153 runs at a much more pedestrian 29.90.

That's a fairly significant difference, but it wasn't always like this. Up until the end of 2010 his numbers were fairly similar. It's only since then that things have changed.


Home Away
Year Matches Runs Average Matches Runs Average
2004-2010 29 1669 37.93 27 1563 36.34
2011-2013 12 862 50.71 14 590 20.34

His career progress in terms of home and away is visually quite interesting.  Here are a couple of graphs to show the difference:













If we break it down by year we also see something interesting:


We can see that there has been a big difference in average per year at home and away from 2011 onwards.

This isn't due to the teams that he has played either.  In that time McCullum has played Zimbabwe, England, South Africa and West Indies both home and away, and has played against Pakistan at home, and Sri Lanka, Australia and Bangladesh away. There is no particular difference in the strength of his opponents at home and away in that time.

I also looked at a weighted 7 match average. This is where I look at an average for 2 games either side of a match, and 3 games either side of a match and average those two averages. It's a reasonable guide to the form that a batsman is in, and it normally covers 12-14 innings, so it is a reasonably reliable guide.  Again I broke it up into home and away.

We can see here that his career was tracking along similar lines for a long time, but then they started to split. The latest weighted average is at just over 57 for home matches, and just under 16 for away matches.

If McCullum was able to replicate his home form away from home, there would be no more questions asked about his place in the side.

I wondered if part of the difference was due to where he batted. He has moved around the order a bit recently, and wondered if he was more likely to play in positions that didn't suit him away than at home.

However I quickly checked his averages at different positions options, and found that there was a significant difference in his average at home and away for every group of batting positions. As an opener he averages 51.80 at home and 32.13 away. Batting from 3-5 he averages 37.40 at home and 30.57 away. In the lower order (6-9) he averages 41.26 at home and 27.72 away.

The question then remains as to what he can do about it. How does he become good at batting in conditions he can't practice in?

One option is to play a season of first class cricket as an overseas player.  He has played 3 matches in his career as an overseas pro, in 2007, and was quite successful, but picked up an injury doing so.

The difficulty is finding somewhere that takes overseas players, and plays their first class cricket when NZ is not playing, where the standard is high enough to be useful. Martin Guptill played second division cricket in England, and dominated, but that did not translate to his test game improving significantly.

Given that he's captain, it makes it more difficult for him to be able to find time to play in England also. But that does bring another question. Is the difference due to captaincy? Are the difficulties of captaining a side on tour affecting his game?

This is a difficult question to answer initially, as he wasn't captain at the start of his career when he was going well, but he also wasn't captain all the time when his away form started to dive. I first of all looked at the over all numbers, which are quite different. When he was not captain, he averaged 39.11 at home and 32.55 away. When he is captain his numbers are truly astounding. His home average is 59.85, while his away average is 15.18. However, if we just look at the matches where he was not captain since 2011, his averages are 44.30 at home and 23.50 away. It seems as if the impact of captaincy is exaggerated due to the fact that he is captain at a time where he is already struggling away from home. Also his away matches as captain have been against South Africa, England and Bangladesh. McCullum has struggled against left-arm spin at times, so Bangladesh, with 3 left arm spinners, is hardly the best tour option for him personally. (Just under half of his dismissals as a captain have been to left arm spin bowlers) Also England and South Africa are two of the more difficult places to tour.

If Brendon McCullum can find his form away from home, he is capable of becoming one of New Zealand's greatest ever captains. He has at his disposal probably the most solid batting line up New Zealand has ever produced combined with what is turning into one of the most lethal opening bowling attacks ever.  It may be worth playing a tour without him, in order to get him to play some serious first class cricket overseas and allow him to improve his away game.