Monday, 3 January 2011

Usman Khawaja

Like most cricket geeks, I enjoyed a nice couple of hour watching some test cricket this afternoon (NZ time). Usman Khawaja made his debut, and impressed a lot of people more knowledgeable than me.

I did notice something though, and it's something that he will need to fix if he's going to make it as an international batsman: he's not good at hitting singles.

In his innings today there were only 7 shots that he deliberately hit looking to get a one or a two. Generally he was trying to hit boundaries, or defend. This is a dangerous tactic, and one that tends to be career limiting.

An interesting statistic is what I call batsman activity. To find a batsmans activity rating you divide the runs they scored running by the number of deliveries they faced excluding the ones they hit boundaries. For example, in 2010, Tendulkar scored 1562 runs off 2794 deliveries. This included 181 4's and 10 6's, making up 784 runs off 191 deliveries. His activity rating is therefore (1562 - 784)/(2794-191) = 0.299, which is slightly above average. (the average for top 7 batsmen in tests in 2010 is 0.281)

The most active batsmen from 2010 (at least 10 innings in the top 7) are:

TM Dilshan0.450
V Sehwag0.374
Tamim Iqbal0.362
MJ Prior0.349
AB de Villiers0.347

Of the 16 batsmen that had an activity rating over 16, only 6 averaged under 50 for the year.

The other end of the table looks like this:
Mushfiqur Rahim0.184
Junaid Siddique0.193
Imrul Kayes0.197
Kamran Akmal0.2
Salman Butt0.2
TG McIntosh0.203

Of the 18 batsmen who have had an activity rating of 0.26 or lower, only Paranavitana has averaged over 50, and he got to bat on some very dead pitches, against the West Indies, who are definitely not the force they used to be.

The point of this is that the activity rating for Khawaja's innings was 0.189, which puts him at the wrong end of that table. While it's certainly too early to make bold statements, it is an interesting thing to watch during the second innings.

Interestingly enough, of the batsmen that have scored 1000 runs or more in the last 2 years, the bottom 5 in terms of activity rating are: Katich, North, Watson, Hussey and Dravid. Considering how large the Australian grounds are, it is amazing that 4 of the bottom 5 are Australians. Perhaps this is something that their coaches need to work on.


  1. Interesting stuff! Slightly surprising Sehwag is so high - suggests he is more of a genuine run scorer than I would have given him credit for.

    Probably a massive piece of work but would be interested to see the change in the average activity rating through time.

  2. Yeah, I was surprised by the top 3, as they all are known as big hitters. However I guess that the captains tend to push back the fields for them, leaving more opportunities for singles and twos. Even still, 0.45 is incredible for Dilshan.

    I'm working on a look at Australia's top 7's activity vs their wining ratio per year for tonight. I'm guessing that the more active they are, the more games they won. The question though is which causes which? More defensive fields = higher activity ratings, but scoring more runs = more chance of winning.

  3. Just discovered this post, batsman activity would be a much better measure of a player's test ability than strike rate. Surprised Hussey is so low though, I had always thought of him as someone who was good at turning the strike over. Perhaps in his and North's case the problem is batting with the tail, where you often turn down singles in order to keep the strike.