Saturday 31 December 2011

2011 End of Year Activity Rates

A batsman's activity rate is the runs scored per delivery not hit to the fence.

For example two batsmen have 10 off 10. One has hit two 4's, two singles and faced out 6 dot balls. He would have an activity rate of 0.25 because he hit 2 runs off the 8 balls that he didn't hit a boundary off. The second batsman hit one 4, two 2's and two singles. He would have an activity rate of 0.67 because he hit 6 runs off 9 balls that didn't go to the fence.

Here are the batsmen with the highest activity rates:

Test Matches (min 100 balls faced, average of 20)

PlayerMatchesBoundary runsRun runsActivity Rate
MJ Prior (Eng)82342850.544
GP Swann (Eng)846490.516
SCJ Broad (Eng)7140990.452
DL Vettori (NZ)41201780.401
Shakib Al Hasan (Ban)52082430.395
DA Warner (Aus)3941010.388
BRM Taylor (Zim)31542040.370
V Sehwag (India)72301540.364
GC Smith (SA)51561660.360
R Ashwin (India)4110720.348
HMRKB Herath (SL)101401540.347
IR Bell (Eng)84784720.346

It's interesting to note the prevalence of spin bowlers in the list. Swann, Vettori, Shakib, Ashwin and Herath as specialist spinners and Warner, Sehwag and Smith as part timers. As a spinner (although not in their class) I normally liked it when batsmen tried to hit boundaries off me (particularly 6's) as it gave me a chance to get them out. I didn't like them milking singles off me (unless it was a really good batsman, in which case I didn't mind them being at the other end). If this is common among other (better) spinners, then this possibly translates into why they are so keen on running.

One Day Internationals (min 100 balls faced, average of 20)

PlayerMatchesBoundary runsRun runsActivity Rate
JP Duminy (SA)151524110.688
Shahid Afridi (Pak)272502120.688
KS Williamson (NZ)91001700.669
AB de Villiers (SA)102082590.652
MN Waller (Zim)71201250.622
MG Johnson (Aus)221001080.621
EJG Morgan (Eng)161762670.611
DA Miller (SA)548690.611
MEK Hussey (Aus)161422720.606
SK Raina (India)293323900.601
F du Plessis (SA)13981900.59
IJL Trott (Eng)294089070.588
R Dravid (India)536880.583
IR Bell (Eng)251804320.581
SPD Smith (Aus)20701340.580

Again a number of spinners at the top of the list, with Swann, Botha and Ashwin all being in the unfiltered top 15, but missing out on not having a high enough average. This time the spinners and part timers at the top are Duminy, Shahid, Williamson and Waller.

Twenty20 Internationals (min 60 balls faced)

PlayerMatchesBoundary runsRun runsActivity Rate
Misbah-ul-Haq (Pak)526580.879
KC Sangakkara (SL)446600.800
Umar Akmal (Pak)544670.761
TM Dilshan (SL)394420.737
SPD Smith (Aus)612570.722
LD Chandimal (SL)340400.714
CL White (Aus)658610.709
RG Sharma (India)344360.706
BB McCullum (NZ)2100450.703
MJ Guptill (NZ)260470.681
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak)586770.664

There are not many t20 internationals, so there were a much smaller number of players face 100 deliveries. Misbah-ul-Haq is an interesting person to be at the top of the list, as he is not someone that I think of as being quick between the wickets. Likewise Sangakkara. Although both of them have made a test career out of eeking out runs and managing to release pressure. In the t20 game they have obviously found ways of doing this faster. Players like this are actually remarkably useful.

The Block-Bash players:

At the other end of the spectrum are the players who specialise in blocking the good balls and cashing in on the bad ones. These players don't see a lot of value in singles, and prefer to get their runs in multiples of 4 or 6.

Test Matches (min 100 balls faced, average of 20)

PlayerMatchesBoundary runsRun runsActivity Rate
Nazimuddin (Ban)276450.153
MJ Guptill (NZ)51821340.172
Naeem Islam (Ban)238460.174
Yuvraj Singh (India)392440.184
TMK Mawoyo (Zim)31561540.190
BJ Watling (NZ)120220.195
Asad Shafiq (Pak)92082010.197
SR Watson (Aus)6184810.198
Tanvir Ahmed (Pak)360260.203
JL Pattinson (Aus)344440.206
Nasir Hossain (Ban)4122870.208
CR Ervine (Zim)256400.211
NT Paranavitana (SL)112463340.212

A surprising member of this list is Martin Guptill, in that he is probably the quickest between the wickets in world cricket. If he was to ever bat with Inzamam-Ul-Haq he could be turning for the third before Inzy was even thinking about the second. But he has tended to get bogged down in test matches recently, and he really needs to add an extra quick single finding shot.

One Day Internationals (min 100 balls faced, average of 20)

PlayerMatchesBoundary runsRun runsActivity Rate
W Barresi (Neth)101261230.339
R Rampaul (WI)1584460.341
TM Odoyo (Kenya)556460.354
Ahmed Shehzad (Pak)152081630.357
Imrul Kayes (Ban)182062150.358
S Randiv (SL)750330.359
Shahriar Nafees (Ban)11961290.365
AS Hansra (Can)101161760.367
CH Gayle (WI)8132700.368
BJ Haddin (Aus)243502840.377
Usman Limbada (Can)450510.378
CO Obuya (Kenya)81381660.384
V Sibanda (Zim)132622160.385
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak)325784970.391

Both of the West Indians in this list, Gayle and Rampaul, score their runs at a strike rate over 80, and yet are poor at taking singles. To be fair, when Chris Gayle is on strike, it's probably better for him to see as much ball as possible, so a quick single is often not as good an idea as blocking one and hitting the next ball for 6.

Twenty20 Internationals (min 60 balls faced)

Player MatchesBoundary runsRun runsActivity Rate
J Charles (WI)228290.475
DM Bravo (WI)354360.529
AD Hales (Eng)438370.536
SR Watson (Aus)5150450.549
DA Warner (Aus)676530.558
SK Raina (India)480350.574
CJ Chibhabha (Zim)470420.583
DJ Hussey (Aus)628530.596
EJG Morgan (Eng)498550.604
LMP Simmons (WI)358390.609
Asad Shafiq (Pak)568560.629

The name that surprised me this time was David Hussey. He seems like a busy player who is always looking for runs. On closer inspection, he was still scoring a large proportion of his runs in singles, but was generally having a bad run. Still some of his knocks were vital. His 25 off 27, with an activity rate of 0.6 actually carried Australia home for a win.

Friday 30 December 2011

Test team of the year

I put together an ODI team of the year, and I'm going to use a similar method for test team of the year.

The first thing that needs to be decided on is the balance of the team. Often the successful teams play with 4 bowlers and one batsman who can contribute with the ball. (There has only been one game this year where a team has won with only using 4 bowlers)

This time rather than using matches at the World cup as a premium, I'm looking at away matches as the premium. This year we have seen some very good performances by home teams, and only a few by away teams, so there needs to be a bonus for teams performing away from home. (For the purpose of this I don't consider games in UAE as away games for either team)

Openers, Alastair Cook & Tino Mawayo

This was selected from batsmen who had played at least 6 innings as openers.

The selection was fairly straight-forward

PlayerMatchesRunsActual AveragePoints
AN Cook (Eng)892784.2784.31
TMK Mawoyo (Zim)331062.0059.17
Taufeeq Umar (Pak)1083146.1646.55
DA Warner (Aus)319548.7543.84
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak)1064740.4336.41
V Sibanda (Zim)327245.3336.40
GC Smith (SA)532240.2536.20

In reality Tino Mawoyo's first class record suggest it is unlikely that he will turn out to be a world class opener, but he has produced world class numbers this year (including carrying his bat for a particularly memorable 453 ball epic 163* against Pakistan). And Zimbabwe has produced some outstanding batsmen in their short test history.

Number 3 Rahul Dravid

This was not so straight forward, as the runs below were not just scored at number 3. Dravid did better when he opened the batting, and Amla did worse the one innings that he didn't bat at number 3. Sangakkara scored the most runs, but didn't manage any not out's so his average suffered accordingly.

PlayerMatchesRunsActual AveragePoints
R Dravid (India)12114557.2559.05
KA Edwards (WI)659554.0953.12
SE Marsh (Aus)428741.0048.67
Azhar Ali (Pak)1073245.7545.14
KC Sangakkara (SL)11103449.2343.93
HM Amla (SA)542347.0042.27
IJL Trott (Eng)636540.5536.47

Numbers 4 & 5 Younis Khan & Ian Bell

Ian Bell has batted at 6 for this year, but he has been a specialist batsman, rather than an all-rounder.

PlayerMatchesRunsActual AveragePoints
IR Bell (Eng)8950118.75110.24
Younis Khan (Pak)876585.0083.93
Misbah-ul-Haq (Pak)1076569.5475.15
KP Pietersen (Eng)873173.1065.07
DG Brownlie (NZ)326853.6060.76
S Chanderpaul (WI)864653.8354.21
DM Bravo (WI)1094949.9453.91
BRM Taylor (Zim)335871.6050.44
SR Tendulkar (India)975647.2549.62
MEK Hussey (Aus)968042.5048.18
TT Samaraweera (SL)750141.7546.82
Shakib Al Hasan (Ban)545150.1146.54
JH Kallis (SA)535951.2846.12

All rounder Mike Hussey

This was a surprise. I was expecting Shakib, Watson, Vettori or Kallis to come out on top here. Hussey was hardly a front-line bowler, but we are only looking for someone who can contribute, and of the players that do that he has been the most effective this year. Kallis has not exactly had a vintage year with the ball, bowling 61 overs for 232 runs. Watson however has been outstanding with the ball, but surprisingly poor with the bat, especially since I thought I remembered him batting really well.

MEK Hussey (Aus) 48.1817.9730.21
Shakib Al Hasan (Ban) 46.5430.6615.88
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak) 36.4122.6613.75
DL Vettori (NZ) 40.2327.6812.55
AD Mathews (SL) 40.5230.589.94
R Ashwin (India) 34.5927.257.34
SR Watson (Aus) 23.8217.146.68
Azhar Ali (Pak) 45.1438.926.22
DJG Sammy (WI) 18.1930.13-11.94
TM Dilshan (SL) 35.2153.45-18.24
MN Samuels (WI) 32.5154.06-21.55
IJL Trott (Eng) 36.47110.09-73.62
JH Kallis (SA) 46.12257.98-211.86

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior

This was the easiest decision of all.

Matt Prior is so far above the rest of the keepers in terms of batting that he really selects himself. His numbers don't indicate that he is the best keeper, but given that he concedes about 5 byes per innings, but his adjusted average is about 25 runs more than the next best with the bat, he can't be overlooked.

Here is the batting stats for everyone who averaged 35 or higher:

PlayerMatchesRunsActual AveragePoints
MJ Prior (Eng)851964.8764.90
T Taibu (Zim)326744.5039.17
Adnan Akmal (Pak)821135.1636.54
Mushfiqur Rahim (Ban)534037.7735.07

And their byes stats:

NameByesDeliveriesByes/100 overs
Adnan Akmal (Pak)2685591.82
T Taibu (Zim)1525813.49
Mushfiqur Rahim (Ban)3447414.30
MJ Prior (Eng)6580964.82

The intangible is dropped catches. It is more work than I'm prepared to do to go back and count the number of catches dropped. If Adnan or Taibu had not dropped any catches, and Prior dropped 1 per game, then there would be a difficult decision, but given that we don't have any data we have to proceed on the understanding that there is no significant difference between them.

Bowlers James Pattinson, Shane Watson, Doug Bracewell and Saeed Ajmal

Here I decided that a bowler had to have bowled 90 overs. I got this number as it was roughly the lower quartile of bowlers who had bowled in 5 innings. This was better than just using 5 innings, as measuring in overs allows more consistency (someone who bowls 2 overs in each of 5 innings just giving a rest to the other bowlers and picks up 3 wickets for 55 runs because the batsmen are slogging him would end up with a very good average despite not being a front-line bowler - for a less extreme version of this see Mike Hussey) Unfortunately Vernon Philander just missed out on this.

I also needed to have at least 2 quick bowlers and at least 1 spinner. The final position comes down to performance (although in reality it would probably come down to the conditions). As a result I have picked Saeed Ajmal, as the best spinner.

NameMatchesOversWicketsActual AverageWeighted Average
JL Pattinson (Aus)398.52015.2016.90
SR Watson (Aus)6113.51419.0717.14
DAJ Bracewell (NZ)31011619.2517.39
TT Bresnan (Eng)4139.32119.0920.95
Z Khan (India)3114.21323.1521.46
DW Steyn (SA)5178.42819.5721.76
Saeed Ajmal (Pak)84875023.8621.97
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak)101671525.9322.66
Aizaz Cheema (Pak)4146.41924.7823.38
U Yadav (India)396.31622.9323.42
P Kumar (India)6268.32725.8123.92
Abdur Rehman (Pak)84123626.2724.39
SCJ Broad (Eng)7270.23322.3024.80
PP Ojha (India)3177.22022.5025.02
Umar Gul (Pak)8287.53425.6725.09
JM Anderson (Eng)7296.23524.8525.57
R Rampaul (WI)8283.13125.0326.20
R Ashwin (India)42212624.8027.25
DL Vettori (NZ)4228.11627.1227.68
CS Martin (NZ)51922029.4527.94
NM Lyon (Aus)8198.42327.4728.64
CT Tremlett (Eng)5207.42327.1729.71
HMRKB Herath (SL)10470.14129.0729.92

Most of the players selected have not played much cricket, and just scrape in on overs bowled. If we extended that to 150 overs required the line up would be Dale Steyn, Praveen Kumar, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez.

The team (in batting order)

Alastair Cook
Tino Mawoyo
Rahul Dravid
Younis Khan
Michael Hussey
Ian Bell
Matt Prior
Shane Watson
Doug Bracewell
James Pattinson
Saeed Ajmal

12th man Mohammad Hafeez

Surprisingly there are no South Africans or Sri Lankans in the team. There are also no West Indians or Bangladeshis either.

That's my stats based team. What is your team?

Where batsmen flourish

This year has seen a shift in the usual trends for where people score runs in test matches.

Traditionally India and the West Indies have been the best places to bat in. While at the other end of the scale has been England, New Zealand and South Africa.

Most countries have had batting averages around 30, with Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe all having a historical average between 30 and 31.

Here is this year's table:

Host CountryMatchesAverageStrike Rate
Sri Lanka331.2547.22
New Zealand229.8745.62
South Africa526.6652.01
West Indies523.4142.96

India has remained near the top, with a lot of runs scored at a good rate in the 3 matches there, but England has moved from near the bottom of the list to the top. This is perhaps because neither Sri Lanka or India had particularly penetrating bowling attacks, and as a result England prospered significantly.

West Indies also swaps ends. This is in part due to no matches being played in Antigua this year, and most of the matches being played on new grounds. Providence stadium averages a full 10 runs per wicket less than the Bourda 8km up the road.

It will be interesting to see if England continue to be a good place to bat, and if the West Indies continue to be a graveyard.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Two unusual stumpings.

This post is a little more anorackish and a little less statistical than my usual posts.

I was enjoying the ability to watch two games at the same time today. I was flicking between the 2nd day of the Australia India test, and the HRV Cup twenty20 match between Central Districts and Wellington.

Wellington were demonstrating their ability to find a way to lose from what looked like a certain winning position, which was making me quite happy, as I had put some money on CD to win. During the game I noticed two interesting dismissals.

Stumping One Cachopa st van Wyk b Nethula

First it was Tarun Nethula who bowled a very effective spell of 1/16 off 4 overs. He bowled a delivery that seemed to drift in quite sharply to an advancing Craig Cachopa. It came off the inside edge, and started rolling towards the crease. Quick as a flash Kruger van Wyk was around the stumps, picked up the ball and took off the bails.

My understanding of the law was that the keeper was not allowed to take the ball in front of the stumps for a stumping. So I assumed that the dismissal would have to be changed to a run out. One of the commentators on TV (Mark Richardson) felt the same.

However I went to my trusty copy of Tom Smith's New Umpiring and Scoring to see what it had to say about this situation. It took a bit of reading, but it turns out that the dismissal was in fact correct and was stumped. The key passage is in law 40 (The Wicket-keeper) section 3:

"The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until (a) a ball delivered by the bowler either (i) touches the bat or person of the striker or (ii) passes the wicket at the striker’s end or (b) the striker attempts a run."

Clearly once the ball hits the batsman or bat, it is fair game, and van Wyk was completely right to come out from behind the stumps and go for the ball.

Stumping Two Boam st van Wyk b Milne

Harry Boam Wellington's last hope was facing New Zealand's fastest bowler, Adam Milne. Well, he wasn't really Wellington's last hope - the match was long gone, but it sounds more dramatic to imagine that there was something on it. Wellington needed 26 runs off the last 2 deliveries, with the batting powerhouse that is Muttiah Muralitheran at the other end. I've once seen Andre Adams win a game off the last delivery when 11 were needed, but 26 off 2 is a little ridiculous. Still he was on 47 and within sight of a pyrrhic 50. So he came down the pitch and tried to hoist Adam Milne into the Wellington harbour.

This plan would have been more effective if he had made contact with the ball. Instead he got himself tide up in knots and lost all sense of balance and direction. the ball carried through unimpinged to van Wyk who was standing about 20 meters behind the stumps. Van Wyk was alert to the situation and, still gloved, threw down the stumps, leaving Boam short of his ground by about 2 meters. Not only was this a sensational piece of work to throw down the stumps with a glove still on, it created an interesting situation. Was it run out or stumped.

We generally don't think of a stumping off a fast bowler. (To be fair we don't often think of any sort of dismissal off a fast bowler in New Zealand - we are the nation that invented dibbly-dobbly bowling, where 130km/h is considered express pace) Normally that is the domain of spin bowlers or occasionally medium pacers. However the rules do not define who is allowed to take a stumping.

In fact the rules are very clear that if a batsman is not attempting a run, is out of his ground and the ball is "kicked or thrown onto the stumps by the wicket-keeper" then it is to be considered a stumping. Which meant that it was disappointing when the scorers on TV described the dismissal as "Boam run out (van Wyk)."

Fortunately the umpires afterwards communicated with the scorers and Adam Milne got given credit for what is likely to be his only ever stumping in his career (provided he doesn't replicate Shane Thompson and go from being a 150km/h quick bowler to an innocuous spinner - with a nasty bouncer).

I have umpired in two games this year when an opening batsman (same in both matches) was stumped by a keeper standing back to a quick bowler (same bowler-keeper combination both times, once in a 1-day game, once in a 2 day game), but both of these were a case of the batsman taking guard outside his crease, and not being aware enough to step back into his ground. (once is understandable, the second time incurred the wrath of his captain, and he batted at 9 for the second innings). The difference between these two situations is that the games I was umpiring were involving 15 year-old's and not professional cricketers, and both time it wasn't good bowling that drew the batsman out, and got him tangled up, it was just poor awareness.

Kruger van Wyk you have earned yourself the title of Cricketgeek hero of the week, and a like on Facebook.

Mini-session analysis for 2nd Test SA SL 11/12

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the 2nd Test.

1-1aSri Lanka 48/2 off 13South Africa
1-1bSri Lanka 64/1 off 15Sri Lanka
1-2aSri Lanka 40/1 off 13Sri Lanka
1-2bSri Lanka 45/1 off 16South Africa
1-3aSri Lanka 48/0 off 15Sri Lanka
1-3bSri Lanka 49/2 off 17.3South Africa
2-1aSri Lanka 33/0 off 14.3Sri Lanka
2-1bSri Lanka 16/3 off 4.2South Africa
South Africa 15/0 off 6
2-2aSouth Africa 40/3 off 14Sri Lanka
2-2bSouth Africa 45/0 off 14South Africa
2-3aSouth Africa 32/5 off 12Sri Lanka
2-3bSouth Africa 56/2 off 8.4South Africa
Sri Lanka 7/1 off 2.1
3-1aSri Lanka 26/1 off 10.5South Africa
3-1bSri Lanka 32/0 off 9Sri Lanka
3-2aSri Lanka 46/0 off 12Sri Lanka
3-2bSri Lanka 44/2 off 10Sri Lanka*
3-2cSri Lanka 52/0 off 12Sri Lanka
3-3aSri Lanka 49/2 off 14.3South Africa
4-1aSri Lanka 23/3 off 7.5South Africa
South Africa 49/1 off 13
4-1bSouth Africa 37/0 off 13South Africa
4-2aSouth Africa 30/3 off 12Sri Lanka
4-2bSouth Africa 20/0 off 15South Africa*
4-3aSouth Africa 53/0 off 15South Africa
4-3bSouth Africa 52/4 off 19.3Sri Lanka

So despite Sri Lanka winning the match convincingly, the mini-session count is even, 12-12. I had to make a decision about who to award mini-session 3-2b to, as it was right on the border, and was too short (less than 12 overs) for my established rules to apply. In ordinary situations that would have gone to South Africa, but in the context of the game the quick runs meant that Sri Lanka were probably in a better position to win the match after that session than they were before it. Likewise mini-session 4-2b which would have gone to Sri Lanka if it was not for the context of the game. Slow scoring without losing any runs was exactly what South Africa needed to do.

The result did not reflect the nature of game, which was quite even for the majority of the match, with the exception of one mini-session where South Africa's 100/3 became 132/8. That spell by Welegedara, Herath and (less effectively) Fernando defined this match. Herath won Man of the Match, and it was appropriate that either he or Welegedara got it, as they really set up the victory.

Overall South Africa should still be favourites for the third test. Despite the convincing scorecard, this game was even for the majority of the sessions.

The good news is that there is a third test. The South Africa-Australia and Australia-New Zealand series would have both been much better with a 3rd test.

Monday 26 December 2011

Mini-session analysis for 1st Test Aus Ind 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the 1st Test.

1-1aAustralia 46/0 off 13Australia
1-1bAustralia 22/2 off 10.5India
1-2aAustralia 70/0 off 14.1Australia
1-2bAustralia 42/1 off 15Australia
1-3aAustralia 47/3 off 17India
1-3bAustralia 60/0 off 19Australia
2-1a Australia 34/2 off 13 India
2-1bAustralia 22/2 off 8India
India 6/0 off 3
2-2aIndia 51/1 off 14India
2-2bIndia 42/1 off 13India
2-3aIndia 68/0 off 18India
2-3bIndia 47/1 off 17Australia
3-1aIndia 24/3 off 14.2Australia
3-1bIndia 44/4 off 14.5Australia
3-2aAustralia 27/4 off 12.5India
3-2bAustralia 54/0 off 13.1Australia
3-3aAustralia 61/1 off 14.2Australia
3-3bAustralia 37/3 off 19.4India
4-1aAustralia 51/1 off 14Australia
4-1bAustralia 11/1 off 2.1Australia
India 24/1 off 9
4-2aIndia 44/2 off 13Australia
4-2bIndia 49/3 off 11Australia
4-3aIndia 46/3 off 14Australia
4-3bIndia 6/1 off 0.5Australia

India were neck in neck at the start of the 4th day, but Australia won every hour of the day, running out winners in the match, and ahead on points, 15-9.

The key moments in the game were the dismissal of Tendalkur at the end of day 2, and the non-dismissal of Ponting when the score was 51/4 in the 2nd innings. If that LBW had been given, India may well have won this match.

Preview - Aus Ind 1st Test Melbourne

Well, it's almost here, Day 1 of the first test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy. The Boxing Day test.

A cool overcast day in Melbourne should provide good conditions for the bowlers. A reasonably fresh pitch should make the first session exciting. Australia's attacking batsmen (particularly Warner and Marsh) coming against Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.

Sharma is the key for me. We know that Zaheer Khan is an outstanding bowler, but Sharma has been in patchy form recently, averaging 61.06 in his last 7 test matches with an appalling strike rate of 105.9. However Sharma has shown that he might be on the way back taking 22 wickets in the 3 matches against the West Indians at 26.22.

Cowan looks like the goods, and it will be interesting to see if he can replicate his recent form (hundreds in his last 3 first class matches) on his test debut.

The other big question for me will be how Ashwin will go later in the day. In his previous matches against Australia he has dismissed both Ponting and Hussey.

Some good bets:
David Warner 1st wicket $1.90
Australia to win $2.00 - India often start a series slowly - have a very bad record on green pitches
Top opening partnership India - $2.05 - much better conditions for them, combined with a more experienced lineup.
Ponting -60.6 $2.90 He's been in much better form than people think.

Saturday 24 December 2011

So How Good is Zaheer Khan really?

Many people, myself included have said that India are rely on a good performance from Zaheer Khan in order to do well in Australia.

So I thought I'd look at his career, and see how well he's actually done.

Over his career he has averaged 31.78 which puts him 208th out of the 448 bowlers to have bowled more than 450 overs in Test cricket. This is somewhat underwhelming, putting him in the same region as Daryl Tuffey and Andre Nel. While both of these were good bowlers, they were hardly player that you expect to regularly win their team a series.

But Zaheer has had a couple of distinct disadvantages, but also one advantage.

1. India don't have a huge quantity of quality pace bowlers, so he was possibly picked before he was ready, and had to play when he was out of form, rather than in for example South Africa or England where a player has to be bowling very well to just make the side.

2. India play a large quantity of their cricket in Asian conditions, which are not suited for pace bowling.

3. Zaheer Khan has not had to bowl against Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dravid, Ghambir or Laxman. India's batsmen have tormented bowlers from outside South Africa over the last 10 years.

So to fully assess his ability, we need to filter the results.

Here are some indicators of where he fits in:

Pace bowlers in Asia, 2008-2011 (min 500 deliveries)

DW Steyn94621.3038.5
M Ntini51524.6048.0
KMDN Kulasekara82226.2248.4
Junaid Khan31226.5854.5
SR Watson91928.6868.1
A Flintoff2729.4272.0
Z Khan207829.4853.5
IE O'Brien41429.6451.2
R Rampaul31029.7059.7
Aizaz Cheema31133.4558.0
I Sharma236834.6662.6
KAJ Roach51334.7654.3
Umar Gul124135.8560.3
T Thushara72036.5560.3
CS Martin51437.4272.4
M Morkel92437.5066.9
TA Copeland3637.83108.0
DJG Sammy81538.4675.6

All pace bowlers outside of Asia (min 500 deliveries)

NameMatchesWicketsAverageStrike rate
VD Philander32412.3721.7
JDP Oram71718.0561.7
DAJ Bracewell31619.2537.8
WPUJC Vaas21219.7543.6
TT Bresnan83421.8245.0
DW Steyn2413321.9639.5
CT Tremlett73624.2247.2
RJ Harris62424.5044.6
RJ Sidebottom125024.6253.4
ST Finn104625.4138.4
Mohammad Asif125525.5051.5
SR Watson203525.7448.1
P Kumar62725.8159.6
Z Khan62526.5650.1
JM Anderson4117426.9752.9
DE Bollinger114527.0050.1
Mohammad Amir114527.1753.0
CB Mpofu31227.7551.5
M Morkel249528.2550.8
B Lee104928.3852.9
SR Clark103328.5160.9
KM Jarvis31329.6949.6
MG Johnson3515230.0252.1

All bowlers last 2 years (minimum 450 overs)

NameMatchesWicketsAverageStrike rate
DW Steyn158320.4438.0
Mohammad Amir73322.3345.7
Z Khan115322.7142.4
TT Bresnan83822.9248.5
SR Watson173323.6650.3
JM Anderson199223.6849.5
CT Tremlett73624.2247.2
P Kumar62725.8159.6
M Morkel156126.0850.1
Saeed Ajmal126526.8162.2
ST Finn125026.9241.4
Mohammad Asif83327.3655.1
GP Swann229128.4157.0
SCJ Broad175929.0861.3
R Rampaul103129.8363.5
FH Edwards83229.9047.3
Abdur Rehman104530.7373.6

Away games against Teams other than India, Bangladesh or Zimbabwe (min 150 overs bowled)

NameMatchesWicketsAverageStrike rate
Mohammad Asif125525.5051.5
P Kumar62725.8159.6
Shakib Al Hasan83526.5156.0
DW Steyn104727.8948.2
Mohammad Amir145129.0956.2
PM Siddle114029.5556.6
Saeed Ajmal146830.5168.6
Z Khan93330.7854.6
GP Swann125531.1466.5
M Morkel124431.2257.6
BW Hilfenhaus103731.3559.6
JM Anderson155731.5459.3
DL Vettori82932.1774.9
Danish Kaneria83634.3358.0
Abdur Rehman83434.3882.8
SCJ Broad133534.6575.4
MG Johnson207035.1460.0

We can see that he is near the top, but not at to top for most of these measures. He has certainly shown that he can do well. The most interesting thing for me here though is how well Praveen Kumar has done. He may well be a big loss in this series. Given that Ishant does not even figure in the last 3 tables, it is not unreasonable to expect that India are very reliant on Zaheer.

The final stat I want to look at is influence that a player having a good day has on his team. This is a difficult thing to measure, as a bowler can bowl really well (like Peter Siddle at the 'Gabba) and create so much pressure that loose bowling at the other end gets wickets. However I've looked at bowlers who have taken 5 wicket bags in 5 or more matches in the last 5 years, and seen the impact they have had on their team.

To quantify this I have used football scoring (3 points for a win 1 point for a draw) for matches, and found what percentage of available points a team has got over that time, and then in matches where each player has taken a big haul of wickets, and finally I have divided them. As a result we find out how much better the team does when this bowler performs than when they don't.

Name5wi in Match5wi w-l-dTeam w-l-dInfluence
DL Vettori72-1-46-14-61.55
DW Steyn97-1-112-8-71.53
Z Khan53-0-217-11-131.41
Harbajhan Singh53-0-217-11-131.41
GP Swann107-0-318-9-111.40
JM Anderson75-0-220-9-121.38
MG Johnson74-2-117-14-91.24
FH Edwards61-3-23-14-141.12
Shakib Al Hasan91-8-01-12-21.00
HMRKB Herath62-2-28-7-121.00

We can see that Zaheer has a significant influence on his team. This is perhaps why we are expecting India to be reliant on Zaheer Khan. It will be intriguing to see how he performs.

Friday 23 December 2011

ODI team of the year

Well, it wouldn't be the end of the year, without people naming a team of the year.

Here is my attempt at ODI team of the year:

For batsmen I broke down the players into openers, top order and lower/middle order players.
I then looked at all batsmen's results batting in these positions throughout the year, giving a bonus for world cup matches and for games against harder opposition. I created a points system that took in account their runs scored, their wickets lost and their deliveries faced. The higher the score the better.


Sehwag & Watson

NameMatchesRunsAverageStrike ratePoints
V Sehwag1264553.75122.58133.432
SR Watson22112459.1592.35108.154
SR Tendulkar1151346.6391.9899.282
HM Amla1563245.1487.6773.667
MJ Guptill1665054.1668.5873.338

Somewhat unsurprising, given that they have both dominated this year. Tendulkar was a close 3rd.

Top Order

de Villiers, Clark & Taylor

NameMatchesRunsAverageStrike ratePoints
AB de Villiers1046751.88108.28113.889
LRPL Taylor1756151.0087.0986.13
MJ Clarke2490056.2591.0181.247
Yuvraj Singh1138142.3389.7880.421
IJL Trott28124651.9180.8477.224
V Kohli31134949.9681.4976.953
KC Sangakkara26112751.2283.7875.762
G Gambhir1556240.1485.0974.575
JP Duminy1352347.5487.6170.696

This was a little more interesting. I was quite surprised bu Clarke's numbers, as I hadn't remembered him having such a good season. By the same token Kohli had an amazing season, but missed out.

Lower/Middle order

Dhoni & Duminy

NameMatchesRunsAverageStrike ratePoints
MS Dhoni2375963.2581.69100.227
JP Duminy1145150.11100.0079.152
KJ O'Brien1232429.45125.3177.566
Umar Akmal2878541.3186.9562.378
DJ Hussey1634238.00152.9461.583
KA Pollard2052831.05151.2657.963
YK Pathan1227127.10121.1553.221
MEK Hussey1434738.5593.2451.55
EJG Morgan1538429.5385.7151.297
F du Plessis1328828.8084.1250.829

Initally I was going to have this and wicket-keeper as separate sections, but given that Dhoni came first as a batsman and there is not a lot of point in having two wicket keepers, it's better to take an extra batsman. JP Duminy just edges out Kevin O'Brien, but O'Brien is an obvious choice for 12th man, as he can contribute with the bat or the ball. And because I like his style of play.


Quantifying the records for bowlers is not as easy as batsmen. I again created a measure that valued dot balls and wickets, and put a higher value on performances in the World Cup and in matches against good teams. The lower the points the better.

DW Steyn142518.504.4119.78
RJ Peterson91821.154.7420.51
M Morkel142617.734.4121.26
Shahid Afridi274525.654.3521.76
Wahab Riaz132320.775.3222.51
TG Southee132522.855.0022.56
JDP Oram122323.884.7123.13
SL Malinga244823.134.8923.46
B Lee193323.034.6223.47
Z Khan143023.755.0823.64
M Muralitharan111722.354.2223.81
BAW Mendis141724.134.4625.15
HK Bennett101726.615.7326.09
Mohammad Hafeez323224.063.4326.64

There are a couple of interesting names here. Mohammad Hafeez misses out due to not taking many wickets in the World Cup. Perhaps this is a weakness in my system, as he was really one of the outstanding bowlers of the year. Peterson likewise only played 2 games outside the world cup, and went at about 6 an over in those matches. But he had a fantastic World Cup and it is fair that a player gets a bonus for performing at the highest stage.

The final team:

de Villiers
Shahid Afridi

12th man O'Brien

How does your team look?

Monday 19 December 2011

Tickets Please

When designing a roller-coaster, there are a few things that need to be thought of: the build up, the delay, the twists and the ending. If a designer does his job properly then a roller-coaster will have a scary build up, a delay to build tension, the twists and turns and then an exhilarating ending. Often the old style wooden roller-coasters were scarier than the modern steel-tubing based ones because, while the twists and turns had to be spaced out more, the psychological effect of the wooden supports, combined with the sway of the device made the rider less confident that everything was going to be alright.

The second test at Hobart was a like a good wooden roller-coaster for a New Zealand fan.

The build up.

In this phase the cars are pulled up a lift, going past lots of twists and turns. The aim is to make the patrons start to feel nervous.

The first news:

“It is going to be a green pitch.”
“There’s a lot of grass on this pitch”
“If it wasn’t for the crease lines I wouldn’t know where the pitch started and the outfield began”

Surely not. Not our undisciplined batsmen on a green-top against the Australian bowlers who had terrorised us at the ‘gabba.


“Daniel Vettori is out injured for the second test, Trent Boult will be coming in to replace him.”

Followed by:

“Australia have won the toss and have chosen to bowl”
“Ross Taylor looked like he was about to burst into tears when Michael Clarke said that he was bowling.”

No Vettori, and we’re having to bat on a green-top. Could it get any worse? Well yes. 60/6 before lunch is certainly worse.

The delay

The delay phase of the roller coaster is where either there is a small pause before a big drop, or a slow part where you get the “this is not too bad” feeling, but still know that there might be worse to come. This serves the purpose of allowing the rider to settle down, but actually the tension increases the thrill of the next section.

First came the mini recovery with Brownlie batting with Bracewell and Southee. Then the end of the day: Hughes c Guptill b Martin; and two maidens from Boult. Perhaps things were going to be alright after all.

I turned on the radio that evening. “gutless” “hopeless” “useless” “disgrace” were all being used. The public were not happy. They wanted blood. “Well you can start by sacking McCullum and Ryder. They’re useless. Too much money from the IPL” etc. I needed to go for a walk to cool off. Couldn’t they see that the match was even?

Then came the second day. The first hour 4 wickets fell. We were back in it. With the whole of NZ’s cricket twitter community going ballistic, one of the social media gurus in the country tweeted:

The ride had begun in earnest.

The twists and turns

Sudden twists and turns combined with going up and down quickly cause a feeling of not knowing which way is up. This makes the body feel out of control. The sense of panic causes adrenaline to be released, causing a form of euphoria in the rider. Often there are brief pauses between different sections, which only exaggerate the feelings.

The match was rolling now. There were wickets falling. Australia were 75/7. Could we roll them for under 100. Surely we could. But Southee and Martin were getting hit around. By tail-enders. They got up to 131/7. The two bunnies had scored 50 runs between lunch and drinks. But both got out just before the break. Just after drinks the resistance was up. New Zealand had an unlikely first innings lead. Out came Guptil and McCullum and gave us 10 overs of gritty batting, scoring only 29 runs, but going into tea without loss. Surely this is our game now.

At tea I was expecting that they were going to score a big partnership and bat Australia out of the game. Due to some poor planning I was not able to watch the final session, but I went to my car feeling that the situation was rosy.

I was only a few hundred meters up the road when McCullum got out. I almost drove off the road 4 minutes later when Guptill joined him. 24 minutes later I was parking my car when Ryder got out. I suddenly had visions of us collapsing, and being beaten beaten early on day 3. How would I cope? It was an unbearable thought.

I quickly tuned my phone’s radio into Radio Sport for the walk into the park for the Christmas event. But the phone radio required the internet, and there were over 100000 people in the park, and they were using up all the bandwidth. I had to rely on my old friend cricinfo. It was so painful waiting for the updates to load. Each time with relief rather than elation that a wicket had not fallen. Each time I expected to see 4 down, but Williamson and Taylor kept the wolves at bay for the rest of that session.

So we got to the end of day 2. A brief pause in the action, but it was a pause filled with tension. How would day 3 go? Would Williamson be able to get going again?

No. 3rd ball and he hit it to slips. That’s it, we’re going to lose.

The next hour we didn’t lose any wickets, but we didn’t score any runs either. Taylor was looking shaky, but it’s better to be looking shaky at the crease, than looking rueful in the pavilion. The boys had seen off the danger period. We couldn’t lose it from here.

5 quick wickets in the next 50 minutes and the world was caving in. 203/9 and out strides Chris Martin. His batting has got a lot better over the last 3 years. Which is like saying that my pet mouse has grown a lot in the last year. No matter how much it grows it’s never going to be big enough to fight off a dog. But Boult the swing bowler turned into Boult the swinging batsman. 21 quick runs before Chris Martin got another not out to add to his collection. (through this series he passed Steve Waugh to now sit 5th on the most not outs list)

The relief of Boult’s innings was a temporary one. Before long the missed review for the catch, combined with a couple of generous LBW decisions mean that the mood was heading downhill quickly. NZ were saved from being beaten in 3 days by the rain, but surely it was just delaying the inevitable. The wheels were falling off. We were definitely going to lose.

The next morning did little at first to alleviate that gloom. Even Hughes c Guptill b Martin didn’t lift my mood much. Our fielding was sloppy. Reece Young (who I’d stuck up for in many conversations) was keeping like he had flippers instead of hands.

The ending

The perfect ride has and end that gives the final burst, leaving the rider exhilarated at the end. A good roller-coaster designer will often put in place a false ending followed by the actual one.

158/2 only 83 runs needed, 8 wickets in hand, and the Australian TAB are offering odds of $1.02 on an Australian victory. I could hardly watch. We were like a bunch of lemmings marching towards the edge of a cliff, only less furry. And then Doug Bracewell came on to bowl.

And the Doug started taking wickets.

Soon it was 159/5. There was a glimmer of hope. One more and we’re into the bowlers. Surely it can’t happen. All lunch break, there was that nagging doubt… it’s possible, but are they just setting me up to let me down, like the Blackcaps have done so many times in the past.

At 192/5 almost all hope was gone. Australia needed just 49 runs. 5 wickets in hand. No chance. Then Southee bowled a magic delivery that got Haddin driving off the edge to slips. Only to be put down. Well if we hadn’t lost before, we definitely had now.

But then Southee gave the repeat dose. Haddin gone. Game back on.

Siddle lasted 3 balls. Pattinson managed 4 deliveries. Starc only saw 2. Now it’s New Zealand’s game to lose.

In came Nathan Lyon. Surely any he wouldn’t last. 5 overs and he’s looking solid. The nagging doubts start coming in – they aren’t going to do it are they. Surely we can’t lose from here can we? Are we going to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory?

The doubts were starting to rise. All the excitement was starting to turn to worry. Then the celebration. Nathan Lyon given out LBW. Of course they were going to review it, what did they have to lose? No edge – must be out. I was getting “woohoo” text messages from people at this point, when…

Pitching outside leg. Somehow.

It certainly didn’t look like it was pitching outside leg, but that’s what the computer said.

And then things started to get scary again. Warner and Lyon started looking quite composed. The lead got down to 12, then 10, then 8. Warner took a single early in the over, and it started to look like we were going to suffer the most heart-wrenching loss in test cricket history. Were we again going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Then the stumps went flying. I shouted with the pure emotion.

Nothing matches test match cricket for the emotional rollercoaster.

Monday 12 December 2011

Man of the match?

There is quite a kerfuffle here in the land of the long white cloud about the man of the match award from the Bellerive test going to David Warner rather than Doug Bracewell. It is as if we are so used to complaining after a cricket match (because we are fairly used to losing the match) that we just have to complain about something.

But this blog is for the purpose of (semi-)objectively answering those questions, so we can look at the merits of the two performances.

First of all their context-less place in test match history:

Warner scored 123* in the second innings. This is 1759th equal best score out of 57407 innings(at least 1 minute batted). This puts it in the 96.9th percentile.

Bracewell took 6/40 in the second innings. These are the 438th best bowling figures out of 38907 bowling innings (at least one over bowled in an innings) This is in the 98.9th percentile.

At the moment Bracewell has the edge.

But it is not the man of the innings - it is man of the match. So lets look at match totals:

Warner's total runs were 138, with one dismissal, putting him 2198th equal out of 35258 match totals (at least 1 minute batted). This puts him in the 93.8th percentile.

Bracewell took 9/60, which is the 386th equal best figures out of 23952. This is in the 98.4th percentile of all bowling performances.

Again this favours Bracewell. - But this is unsurprising. It was a bowlers wicket, and you would expect bowling figures to look better than batting figures.

What about the contribution to the team?

Warner scored 138 runs out of 383. 36% of the team runs.
Bracewell took 9 wickets out of 20. 45% of the team wickets.

Overall there were 745 runs scored for the loss of 40 wickets. Each wicket was therefore worth 18.625. By scoring 138 in his two innings, Warner was effectively 3.7 times better than the average batsman. Bracewell took his wickets at 6.67 runs per wicket making him 2.8 times better than average, but he also scored 16 runs in his two innings, which is an 0.43, giving him a total of 3.23 times better than average.

This is one analysis that Warner comes out ahead on.

But if we say that each wicket was worth 18.625, and Bracewell took 9 of them, then his wickets were worth 167 runs. Which is more than the 138 that Warner scored.

I have only 2 metrics left.

Warner scored 138. The next highest scorer was Brownlie who got 77, and was out twice, so averaged 38.5 Warner was 3.6 times better than the next best batsman on that pitch.

Bracewell took 9/60. The next best was Pattinson who took 8/105. Brownlie averaged 6.67, Pattinson averaged 13.13. Bracewell was 1.97 times better than the second best bowler on the pitch.

So Bracewell is ahead on 3, and Warner leads on 2.

The final measure is how they well they did their job. This is not something that can be measured with anything other than a 1 or a 0.

Innings 1. Bracewell's job was to support Brownlie. He lasted for 14.1 overs, and was part of the largest partnership in the NZ innings. He did his job. 1. Warner was not called on to bowl, and did not have any catches that I can remember go his way. No score.

Innings 2. Warners job was to see off the new ball, and then score some runs. He was out before drinks, while the ball was still only 8.4 overs old. He only scored 15 runs. 0. Bracewell's job was to take wickets, and do it cheaply. He took 3/20 off 10 overs. 1.

Innings 3. Warner again played no part. Bracewell's job was to first support Young, and then to score some runs. He didn't really manage to score enough (only got 4). 0

Innings 4. Warner needed to bat through the innings, and score enough guns to carry Australia home. Shielding the tail, and scoring sensibly. He failed to shield the tail, and as a result didn't have the chance to take his team home. 0. Bracewell's job was to take wickets. He got 6 of them, including Ponting, Clarke, and Hussey. He also cleaned up the tail. 1

Totals: Warner 0/2 = 0 Bracewell 3/4 = 0.75

Warner had a good game. He was Australia's best player, but he didn't do what was required for his team to win the game. There is an argument for him to be the man of the match, but it was quite clear, from my (only slightly biased) position that the true man of the match was one Doug Bracewell.

The Sehwag and Watson show

This week has witnessed a quite remarkable innings. Sehwag has achieved a score of 214 in a One Day International. That's quite a lot of runs. And scored at a good clip too. So how does it compare to other scores this year?

Well obviously he scored more than everybody else, but the nature of ODI's is that just scoring runs is not the only thing. As well as wickets, deliveries are also a vital resource. One way that I like to check on the effective score is to square the runs scored and divide by the deliveries faced. This way someone that scores faster than a run a ball gets benefit, while someone that scores slower gets their score reduced. This allows us to compare innings like 114 off 121 vs 89 off 75. Which is the most effective. 114 x 114 / 121 = 107.40 while 89 x 89 / 75 = 105.61 so the 114 is better, but only a little bit. While this method is not perfect, I think it is quite easy to understand, and is an interesting metric for analysing scores.

So here are the top 20 scores this year, sorted by this method:

NameRunsBallsEffective score
SR Watson (Aus) 185*96v Bangladesh at Dhaka 356.51
V Sehwag (India) 219149v West Indies at Indore 321.89
V Sehwag (India) 175140v Bangladesh at Dhaka 218.75
KJ O'Brien (Ire) 11363v England at Bangalore 202.68
AB de Villiers (SA) 13498v Netherlands at Mohali 183.22
SR Watson (Aus) 161* 150v England at Melbourne 172.81
AJ Strauss (Eng) 158145v India at Bangalore 172.17
Shahid Afridi (Pak) 6525v New Zealand at Christchurch 169.00
KA Pollard (WI) 9455v Ireland at Mohali 160.65
TM Dilshan (SL) 144131v Zimbabwe at Pallekele 158.29
YK Pathan (India) 10570v South Africa at Centurion 157.50
IJL Trott (Eng) 137126v Australia at Sydney 148.96
KS Williamson (NZ) 100* 69v Zimbabwe at Bulawayo 144.93
PR Stirling (Ire) 10172v Netherlands at Kolkata 141.68
LRPL Taylor (NZ) 131* 124v Pakistan at Pallekele 138.40
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 144150v England at Leeds 138.24
BRM Taylor (Zim) 128* 120v New Zealand at Harare 136.53
RD Berrington (Scot) 5623v Ireland at Edinburgh 136.35
PR Stirling (Ire) 11395v Scotland at Edinburgh 134.41
KA Pollard (WI) 6027v Netherlands at Delhi 133.33

Watson, Sehwag, Pollard and Stirling all have two entries on the list. Interestingly Pollard's century is not there, but two fifties are. Unsurprisingly most of the scores are at grounds that have a history of being batsmen friendly, but Jayawardene's innings was at Heddingly, which has the opposite reputation, so it is to be singled out as being quite an extraordinary innings. The Williamson knock was one that probably passed most people by, but the fascinating thing about that one was the he was on 93 when he faced the final ball of the match. He managed to hit a no ball for 4 and then hit the bonus delivery for 3.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Mini-session analysis for the first 2 days and a look at day 3

Day three of the NZ-Aus test at Bellerive is looking like the most cruical day in recent New Zealand cricket history. But before I look at that, let's quickly go through the mini-sessions and see how they stack up:

Day 1
Mini-sessionScoreMini-sesssion winner
session 1aNZ 35/3 off 11Australia
session 1bNZ 38/3 off 12Australia
session 2aNZ 61/1 off 17New Zealand
session 2bNZ 16/3 off 5.5Australia
session 3aAus 12/1 off 4.2New Zealand

Day 2
Mini-sessionScoreMini-sesssion winner
session 1aAus 46/4 off 20.4New Zealand
session 1bAus 23/2 off 11New Zealand
session 2aAus 50/2 off 12.5Australia
session 2bAus 5/1 off 2.1New Zealand
NZ 29/0 off 10
session 3aNZ 44/3 off 13Australia
session 3bNZ 66/0 off 21New Zealand

New Zealand lead the mini-session count 6-5 at the moment. They are slightly ahead in the game, but day three looms as a difficult proposition. The weather forecast is for overnight and early morning rain. I'm not an expert on Hobart's weather systems, but in most coastal places the weather changes with the tide, and the tide changes at about 8:30, so I'd say it is likely that either the rain stops then, and the game should start on time or it continues throughout the morning session, and we hardly get any play until after lunch. Either way the pitch should freshen up again in the first session, with sweating likely to occur under the covers. However the pitch has had a couple of days of use, so it should dry out quite quickly. It is likely to be quite difficult to play on for the first 30 minutes or so, and then for the first 2 or 3 overs after any rain breaks.

Williamson seems to be particularly vulnerable straight after a break, so this could be to Australia's favour. If there are no wickets fall in the first 30 minutes, and no rain round, then it could be a long day in the field for Australia. One real key on this wicket will be the confidence of the batsmen and bowlers. When the batsmen start getting tentative because of a couple that move significantly, their footwork tends to become less assured, and they get in the wrong place to play the ball. The ball moving has a similar effect on the bowler, except that they start bowling more attacking lengths and allow the batsmen to play bad shots. We have just witnessed two days of this phenomenon.

If Taylor and Williamson ride out this storm, then they will be transmitting calmness to Brownlie, Young (who is due a good score), Bracewell and Southee. A sensible batting effort could bring a score in the region of 350. That would probably be a bridge too far for Australia, who will be likely to have to bat twice in the tricky morning session in order to get there. However 2 quick wickets tomorrow morning could quickly turn into 7 quick wickets, and Australia having to chase 200 on an improving deck.

If New Zealand are to win this game the first hour of play will be vital. That's where the interest is for me.

Friday 9 December 2011

Preview - NZ Aus 2nd Test

Test two at Bellerive Oval, and things are difficult to predict.

The pitch in Hobart looks like it is going to be a minefield, but I think that the looks are going to be deceiving. They have used couch grass on the pitch, which sometimes looks very green, but actually doesn't bounce as much, and only gets sideways movement from short of a length (when a bowler bowls into a pitch not along it) and is not as dangerous when bowlers bowl full.

I'd expect Siddle to be more effective on this pitch than on the 'Gabba, as he bowled very well for little result, and his natural length will be better on this pitch.

The other thing to look for will be the swing. The ball traditionally swings when the tide is high at Hobart (similar to the coastal grounds in NZ). This should mean that there are a few wickets early on days 4 and 5. (High tide is 9:08 on Monday and 9:52 on Tuesday) The weather forecast is for bad weather this afternoon and tomorrow, but with the good light in Hobart the days are likely to be able to be extended on days 3, 4 & 5.

This means that it could be quite a stop-start day. This is not good for slow starters like Hughes and Williamson. It also might be a bad sign for Ponting, who has been brilliant at Bellerive traditionally, but who has also tended to struggle against inswing early in his innings.

Vettori is batting like a genius at the moment, and he is likely to get a lot of bowling as the pitch flattens out. Australia are likely to try and attack him more in this game, so he could be a good option for some wickets and runs.

Betting options:
First innings overs - This pitch is likely to flatten out very quickly, so once the toss happens and the odds are offered for the first innings total, go over.

Vettori player performance. 120 or over $1.87 - likely to take wickets and score runs.

New Zealand highest opening partnership $2.10 - Hughes is not very solid against Martin.

Taylor to score more the Khawaja $1.83 - I still don't rate Khawaja, and Taylor averages over 50 in the 2nd match of a series.

Do New Zealand need to bat differently?

New Zealand's top 5 have been criticised by everyone who has a voice on the radio, TV and in the newspapers over the last few days following the Gabba gazumping. The usual suspects have been out: Nash, Crowe, Turner, Boock, all saying that we need to get back to having more spine, and stop trying to play so quickly.

So I though I'd look at how the current batsmen stack up. Rather than looking at their batting averages, I've looked at the median scores at 5 down and 6 down. Medians seem to be the in-thing in statistics at the moment. I've been to a number of university stats seminars recently, and medians are everywhere. There are a couple of advantages to a median in this situation, this really shows us what we can expect, half of the scores are better than the median, and half are lower. Not-out's are also not given special treatment, and extreme values are ignored. In a lot of ways the median is what we can expect a team to get. I've found the average score when the number 7 comes to the wicket, and also when the number 8 comes to the wicket. This shows the contribution of the batsmen, and so it is an interesting statistic for comparison.

Here are the results for all countries over the past 2 years. I've separated Zimbabwe as they haven't played many games, and their results don't seem to be realistic.

Team5 down6 down

There is a bit of a discrepancy there with Pakistan, who average more for 5 down than they do for the 6 down due to having a number of innings finish 5 down with a large score.

New Zealand sit quite low at 5 down, but in the middle of the table at 6 down, due to the Vettori factor. (Vettori has averaged about 40 over the last few years, batting at 7) So the New Zealand top 5 have not exactly set the world on fire, but there are a couple of caveats there. Firstly New Zealand have to play on New Zealand pitches, which tend to swing and seam more with the new ball, making the early batsmen particularly vulnerable (only 16 batsmen in NZ's history have averaged more than 35, and 4 of those spent most of their career batting at 6 or 7)

So a better comparison is New Zealand through the years:


This shows that the last 2 years have been better than New Zealand's history would suggest. Perhaps the era of Wright, Edgar, Crowe and Coney were not quite as golden as they would like to suggest. Perhaps the New Zealand batsmen (despite the recent debacle) are actually not going so badly.

Monday 5 December 2011

Important Moments and Momentum

Test 1 between New Zealand and Australia was a complete rout on the scoreboard. Australia won by 9 wickets, and left the New Zealand public angry and their supporters bewildered.

But how much did Australia actually dominate the match?

Because I'm a bit of a NZ cricket masochist, I went through the game, mini-session by mini-session. (a mini-session is between a break and drinks) There were 22 of these in this game. Before analysing them I wrote up a set of criteria to decide who had won each mini-session and who had lost it. Some of them were quite close, but most of them were actually quite decisive to one team or the other.

Overall New Zealand won 7 of the 22 mini-sessions, with the most dominant being scoring 49/0 in 12 overs on the second morning, or taking 3/33 at the start of the final session on the third day. Australia won 15, but they slightly edged the majority of the close sessions. If I adjusted the criteria slightly it would probably be 13-9 or 12-10.

The big difference though was in three key mini-sessions The second mini-session, New Zealand lost 3 wickets for 50 runs. The second mini-session on the 2nd day New Zealand lost 5 wickets for 72 runs. And then the first mini-session on the fourth (and final) day where NZ lost 4/48 off 11.

Looking at that session, it was 48/1 off 10, and 0/3 off one over. That over made such a difference, and it was one of a number of moments that really defined the game.

Here are a few others: Ricky Ponting should have been run out for 0, but instead went on to score 78; Michael Clarke was bowled off a no ball on 23, he went on to score another 116 runs; Mitchel Starc was dropped on 0 and went on to score 32. That's 226 runs that were gifted to Australia.

To win a test match against Australia, New Zealand need to win the key moments. They can't afford to lose them, or else they will get beaten up again.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Thursday 1 December 2011

Preview - NZ Aus 1st Test

So it's time for the Trans-Tasman Trophy. I has been a long time since New Zealand actually beat Australia, but with the current Australian bowling lineup there is a slow dawning of hope in New Zealand that the boys can taste some success on the West Island.

The question is: how realistic is that hope?

New Zealand has been a graveyard for quality batsmen. There just have not been many come from here. At time of writing, only 10 players have played 10 or more games for NZ and averaged over 40. The rest of the world have produced 183. However of those 10, 2 are in the current team, as well as 2 more in the next 8 players. This is possibly the best batting line up New Zealand has ever had. The only possible exceptions are the team that contained Richardson, Fleming, Astle, McMillan and Cairns, or the team that contained Crowe, Reid, Wright and Coney. They are also all in form. In the last 2 matches every one of the top 6 have scored at least one hundred, and most have scored a fifty also. I read somewhere they over the last 4 innings they average 74. (I haven't checked this, but I'll trust the newspaper to be correct)

At the same time as New Zealand's batting is strong, Australia's bowlers are so inexperienced that some of the commentators are struggling to tell them apart. Because they have lost so many players it is hard to know how well they are going to play. What we saw in the warm up match was that despite New Zealand really going for their shots and playing risky shots they managed to score over 400 both innings. It will be interesting to see how this battle will go.

The other side is more settled. The Australian bating lineup has a couple of new faces, but is a lot more settled. The New Zealand bowling line up really only has one new face with only one of Bracewell or Boult likely to play. Bracewell has started his test career off encouragingly, while Boult has yet to make a debut, but has some good form in domestic cricket behind him. Southee enjoyed Brisbane last time, and is a much better bowler now. Martin has not been in a good run of form, but he has a very good record against left handers. Given that 4 of the top 6 batsmen in Australia are left handed, he might not be as ineffective as he has been in recent matches.

The Australian batsmen are generally high quality but under pressure. The scepter of all out for 46 will be hanging over their heads. Two of their batsmen (Hughes and Khawaja) average below 40, which is not something that we are accustomed to seeing from players that play the majority of their cricket in Australian conditions. The New Zealand bowlers will be smelling blood. However they may be going in confident, but they have not really demonstrated an ability to bowl teams out quickly. Over the last 2 years they have taken a wicket every 81 deliveries. To put this in context it means that it takes about 135 overs to bowl out a team. Given that there is about 450 overs in a test match, if New Zealand take 270 overs to bowl out Australia, there are only 180 left in the match for New Zealand to bat.

To add to this there is a forecast of rain for at least 2 of the days. If this forecast is correct the I see a result being entirely pitch dependent. Both teams having reasonable batting line ups and average bowling line ups means that they are both going to be unlikely to bowl each other out. Unless there is some real venom in the pitch then I think that $2.60 that Bet365 are paying for the draw is good money.

If I was looking for another couple of bets I'd look at Michael Clarke as the top run-scorer in Australia's first innings. He is right handed so nullifies Martin and (to a lesser degree) Boult. He bats at number 5, a position that New Zealand has great difficulty dismissing in recent time, and he has a great record against New Zealand, averaging over 60.

I would also look to put money on Williamson overs once he reaches 10. He gets out under 10 in more than half of his innings, but once he gets going it is rare for him to get out under 50.

So those are my thoughts and where I'm putting my 20c.

Tuesday 15 November 2011


I have been impressed with Divendra Bishoo. He looks like the real deal. Not many statisticians would say that after he had just bowled 45 overs 1 maiden 1/154, but I'm looking at this as a legspinner rather than as statistician.

There are two things that a leg spin bowler does for a team: 1. They create chances. 2. They tire out the batsmen.

Here's what Bishoo did to those ends.

1. He created at least 13 chances. While there were no dropped catches off his bowling, there were 13 times that I noticed him genuinely beat the batsman. For example he got Dravid to edge one just in front of slip. He got Laxman to play the wrong line and the ball just slipped past the outside edge on two occasions. Dhoni played a leading edge that fell just short of a fielder. Normally about 1 in 3 or 4 chances results in a wicket. He is doing the right things to get wickets. (also remember that the Indian batsmen are probably the best against spin in the world).

2. He was turning the ball sharply at times, varying his flight, speed and particularly spinning it both ways. The result of this is that the batsmen are not able to settle. 3 balls pitching in the same spot would get to the batsman at different times and at different places. While this didn't work well in this test, it will in all likelihood work against lesser players.

For these reasons I am impressed with Divendra Bishoo.

You should totally read


Wes has done some good work here. :)

As an aside, I really hope that we don't hear a bunch of stuff about Peter Roebuck that is going to tarnish my thoughts about him. He was truly one of the great cricket writers, and his excellent analysis will be sorely missed. (even if I often didn't agree with him)

Sunday 6 November 2011

Possibility of an upset? Preview India vs West Indies Test 1

Two teams that have had a lot of draws against each other, and also a history of strange results.

India managed two series wins against the all-powerful West Indies of the 70's (in 1970/71 and 1978/79, but overall West Indies have dominated most series. India having won less than a quarter of the matches between the two teams.

There are a 4 things I am going to be watching for in this series:

1. Kirk Edwards vs Pragyan Ojha. Edwards was in dominating form in Bangladesh, but there is a difference between Bangladesh and India. The one weakness that he did show was that he got out LBW to left are spinners a few times. It will be interesting if Ojha sets a plan for this.

2. Divendra Bishoo. Bishoo has been a real star for West Indies, and has certainly managed to get me excited. He takes wickets by turning the ball, not just by putting it on the spot and making batsmen make a mistake. Not many spin bowlers have had any success against India, but Bishoo may be an exception.

3. Ravi Rampaul. It seems a strange decision to leave out Roach for Rampaul, but he was quite effective in the CLT20 tournament, and it will be interesting to see how the different lines that he bowls go against the aggressive Indian batsmen.

4. Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj has traditionally had a weakness against short-pitched bowling, and this is probably the thing that West Indies is the most famous for. While Rampaul, Bishoo and Sammy are not likely to give him too many concerns, Fidel Edwards will be licking his lips with glee at the thought of bowling to Yuvraj.

Some thoughts on betting: Yuvraj to score less than the line is a good option, likewise Kirk Edwards to get out LBW. Also a draw seems to be the most likely result.

Friday 28 October 2011

"England vs India" vs "India vs England"

In a series where one team wins comfortably, it can normally be expected that that team would score the most runs. I was interested to see that in the England India series in England that was not the case. In fact, Duckworth and Lewis decided the result of every game except one, and as England was always batting second, they had to score a lot less. England actually faced 421 less deliveries than India, that is about 1 and a half innings normally.

** Trivia Alert **
This was the second ODI series this year where a team got clean swept despite scoring more runs than their opponents - It also happened in the West Indies tour to Sri Lanka.
** Trivia over - back to statistics **

Despite playing shorter innings, England relied on the boundaries less than India, instead getting their runs inside the field. They ran about 58% of their runs, while India ran about 54.5%.

However If we look at the series in India, the results are reversed. India still ran about 54.5% of their runs, but this time England only ran about 51% of their runs. Each series the team that relied the most on boundaries lost the series.

The activity rates were interesting too. In England it was England 0.64, and India 0.54. In India it was England 0.45 and India 0.56. It is interesting, because the difference between the two teams at home and away was largely the running between wickets and fielding. Both of them scored a similar number of boundaries in either series.

It leads me to question if it is harder to judge a run in home conditions or away conditions across the board, so this was the next thing I looked into. Here are some numbers from the last 10 years:

teamrun runs (rr)run outs (ro)balls faced (bf)rr per robf per ro

Now this is a quite significant difference, about 10%. It certainly brings up questions for further analysis. It would be interesting to see if this is true for other modes of dismissal, and which teams have the biggest difference between their home figures and their away figures.

Thursday 27 October 2011

A quite remarkable innings

Kane Williamson was somewhat overshadowed again in hitting his second ODI hundred.

His first came in a loss against Bangladesh. He was the last wicket to fall, caught at deep midwicket, with New Zealand needing 9 runs of the last 4 balls. His strike rate was a fairly disappointing 81.81

His second was in the same innings as Ross Taylor scored 119, and it was done without much big hitting or fanfare. Which really made it more remarkable.

His chances of a hundred looked dead and buried when Taylor got out, and Nathan McCullum was in strike in the last over. Williamson needed seven to get to his hundred, and there was only one ball left. But Ncube obliged, bowled a beamer, which Williamson hit for 4, and then (after a change of bowler due to repeated beamers) Williamson manages to run 3 on a push to mid on, requiring a dive to make his ground.

His innings was the second fastest century by a New Zealander (off 69 balls) and the second fastest by anyone to not have a majority of runs scored in boundaries (after MoYo's 68 ball 100 against Zimbabwe in 2002). This was the thing that really impressed.

He scored 11 4's and 1 6, meaning that he got 50 runs in boundaries, and ran 50. His activity rate (runs per ball removing boundaries) for the innings was 0.877 - quite remarkable really. It was a triumph for placement, timing and running between wickets, rather than the less effective brutality coming from the other end.

And yet very few people will remember it, for 2 reasons. 1. It was against Zimbabwe. And they are rubbish. 2. It was in a losing cause, in a dead rubber. But regardless, it was a beautiful innings, that perhaps is a sign of things to come from a prodigious young batsman.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Tigers at home, Pussycats away

It has been said that the Indian team were tigers at home, and pussycats away. The idea was that to beat India in India was a real achievement, but beating them away was in a similar class to beating Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. Now this is obviously an exaggeration, but the current series between India and England looks like two completely different teams to the previous series in England.

England have gone back to their recent history of being rubbish at One Day Cricket (won less than 44% of matches against test playing nations in the last 10 years) and India look like champions again.

So the question arises, is there a statistical difference between their home and away performances?

Over the last 5 years, England have won 27 home matches against test opposition and lost 21, giving a home win/loss ratio of 1.28. Away from home they have won 18 and lost 26, giving an away win/loss ratio of 0.69. Quite different. India have won 34 and lost 17 at home giving them an impressive home win/loss ratio of 2. Away they have won 33 and lost 30 (much better than the stereotype) with a ratio of 1.1. This means both teams are roughly twice as good at home as they are away.

So who are the most 2 faced teams? Here is the list of all teams, and their percentage better at home than away in the last 5 years against test teams:

TeamW/L HomeW/L Away% change
New Zealand 1.610.36347
Pakistan 2.250.75200
Zimbabwe 0.360.16125
England 1.280.6986
India 2.001.1082
Bangladesh 0.750.4470
Australia 2.251.7032
South Africa 2.902.4419
Sri Lanka 1.361.2013
West Indies 0.530.4810

The big surprise for me was the first team. New Zealand have been appalling on the road, performing worse than West Indies or Bangladesh. But at home they sit in 5th place.

Breaking it down a bit, New Zealand score at 5.78 at home, but only 4.8 away. A difference of almost 1 per over. The days of New Zealand being a place were regularly defended are long gone.

TeamRPO HomeRPO AwayDifference
New Zealand5.784.80 0.98
India5.795.25 0.54
Zimbabwe4.674.14 0.53
England5.405.06 0.34
Pakistan5.305.00 0.30
South Africa5.705.44 0.26
West Indies4.974.86 0.11
Sri Lanka4.905.10-0.20

In fact the transition in New Zealand's home scoring rates has been phenomenal. Before 2004 there had only been 2 seasons where NZ scored over 5 rpo at home, Since then they have scored at over 5 every year, and scored over 300 at least once per year. The days of the low slow NZ ODI pitch is long gone.