Friday 25 February 2011

2 potentially absorbing matches

The return to Nagpur for New Zealand, and the battle for recognition for Ireland.

New Zealand had been looking like they had left the horror Bangladesh series behind them when they drew the first two tests with India. Then came Nagpur, and a humiliating innings defeat, that paved the way for a clean sweep in the ODI series.

Ireland have won 2 of their 6 matches against Bangladesh, but have lost the three in Asia convincingly.

Here are some things to watch for in the games:

NZ vs Australia

1. Spin bowling. Nagpur has been a spinners pitch, and both team have had trouble playing spin. Australia has only managed to score 4.63 runs an over off spin over the last 2 years (compared to 5.17 overall) and New Zealand has averaged only 26.85 against spin in the same period. Both of these numbers are frighteningly bad for teams that are playing a tournament in the sub-continent.

2. Hamish Bennett in for Kyle Mills. Kyle Mills has tormented Australia recently, averaging 17.50 at 4.03 rpo. How Hamish Bennett and Tim Southee cope without him there will make a big difference to how New Zealand fare. Bennett has an awkward action and often batsmen struggle the first time they face him. (he took 3 wickets in his first match against Bangladesh, 0 in the second, 4 wickets in the first game against Pakistan, 2-54 off 7 in the second, 4 wickets in first match against Kenya). The surprise factor will work in his favour against Australia. However Bennett does seem to be much better when he doesn't open the bowling. His figures bowling at 3 or 4 are significantly better than when he's opened the bowling. No mills means that unless Vettori thrown the ball to Franklin, Bennett is likely to get given it.

3. Jason Krejza. Attacking offspin bowling is not something New Zealand has traditionally done well against. A lot of off-spinners had their career best figures against New Zealand, and so Krejza should be rubbing his hands together with glee coming into this match.

4. Mitchell Johnson vs Scott Styris. Two of the most abrasive players on the field, both love playing against each other. Styris has averaged close to 50 against Australia in the last couple of years, and Johnson has taken 27 wickets against New Zealand, making them his second favourite opponent (after India). They bumped heads in the recent Chappell Haddlee series, and it bought out the best in both of them.

5. Shane Watson. Without a doubt the stand out batsman of the Australian summer, Watson is also a player that loves the New Zealand bowlers. New Zealand is the only test-playing side that he averages over 50 against in ODI's.

6. Earthquake. There are normally 2 possible responses to a natural disaster at home for a traveling team. They either play extremely well, or extremely poorly. Accordingly it would not be a huge surprise if this game was to end in a very one-sided manner. One of New Zealand's most memorable moments in cricket was immediately following the Tangiwai Disaster.

Ireland vs Bangladesh

1. Big match players. Often Bangladesh have relied on Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, whil Porterfield and the O'Briens have made the big plays for Ireland. Whichever team counters these players may win the game.

2. Bounce. If there is any, then watch out Bangladesh. However the game is being played at Dhaka, and the pitch has been prepared to suit, so expect it to have about as much bounce as bowling on a sponge cake. It is likely that even Boyd Rankin will struggle to get it above waist high.

3. Where to from here. This is a must win for both teams. The winner of this match will rate their chances of knocking off the West Indies but for the loser the path to the final is up a very very steep hill.

4. A twist in the tail? Normally tail enders from lesser nations are very weak at batting. However both Bangladesh and Ireland have showed some real tenacity in recent years. Particularly Ireland with numbers 6-8 providing a lot of useful runs, quite quickly. If Ireland are to win (and I think that is unlikely given the game in in Dhaka) it may well be a late charge that gets them home. If I was going to be in-game betting, and Ireland were batting last, I would follow the Duckworth Lewis system, rather than rounding it down like I do for most minnows.

Monday 21 February 2011

Minnow Bashing

Yesterday there were two very convincing performances from New Zealand and Sri Lanka against Kenya and Canada respectively.

However both teams have a history of convincing wins over non-test nations (New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa are the only teams to have never lost an ODI against a non-test playing team). I pulled the stats of all teams against the 4 "minnow" nations at this world cup, to see which matches were most likely to provide an upset.

Here is the runs per over while batting and bowling against Kenya, Canada, Ireland and Netherlands over the last 5 years for the 8 premier teams.

TeamBatting R/RBowling R/RDifference
New Zealand6.433.672.76
South Africa6.393.782.61
Sri Lanka6.313.942.37
West Indies5.333.791.54

This suggests that the results on day 2 are not particularly surprising. If an early game is to bring about an upset, it's most likely to be England Netherlands or Pakistan Kenya, although both are still highly unlikely.

Saturday 19 February 2011

India vs Bangladesh

As I write this India are 129/1 off 20.

They have made a great start, but does this mean that they will finish the innings well? In the last few years, India have had difficulty finishing off the first innings as well as they have started it.

As I mentioned in the last post, over the last 2 years India have not scored more (when batting first in an official, non-rain interrupted match) in the last 20 overs in any match than they scored in the first 30. Most teams do this about once every 5 or 6 matches.

This can also be shown by how much more contribution India gets from their top order. One useful stat is a batsman's effectiveness rating. This was thought up by someone at Cricinfo a while ago, and I really like it as a way of comparing batsmen. It is effectively a way of combining the strike rate and the average. Basically it's runs squared divided by balls multiplied by wickets. It means that someone who averages 50 at a strike rate of 75 gets an effectiveness rate of 37.5, while a player with an average of 42 with a strike rate of 90 would have a rate of 37.8. These two players would be valued similarly by a lot of fans (although probably with a lot of debate about who was better), and their effectiveness ratings show this.

If we look at the last 2 years, and break things down by batting position, here is India vs the rest of the World:

PositionWorld effectivenessIndia effectivenessratio

As you can see India start off much better than the rest of the world, but then drop away significantly. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues, or if they start to finish innings off well, as they have shown they can in the practice matches.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Death bowling

Just a quick point: over the last 2 years India have not once hit more runs in the last 20 overs than the first 30 in an official match. Last night they scored a lot more. This is a reflection of four things.

1. New Zealand bowled well with the new ball, and as a result India got off to a slower than usual start.

2. India played extra batsmen due to the game being an unofficial match.

3. Dhoni and Raina were awesome.

4. New Zealand bowled poorly. Regardless of any other factor, there is no excuse for going for that many runs in the last 16 overs.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Partnerships that made big contributions

In an earlier post, A different kind of hundred partnership I looked at a number of partnerships ranked by how much they increased the Duckworth-Lewis expected score.

I have come up with a new method. If you want to skip the geekery of me explaining how it works, click here to go straight to the table.

There were a number of problems with the method I used in the hundred partnership post, some of which I outlined at the time. I spent some time thinking about it, and what could be done to give a more accurate description of the contribution a partnership made to a teams cause. Part of the idea of statistics is to find a way to make the numbers tell the story, and I didn't feel that these told the story accurately enough. There were a few glaring anomalies.

The first thing that I wanted to fix up was that shorter partnerships added more than longer ones. For example Amla and Duminy's partnership of 102 off 16.2 was worth much less than Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan's partnership of 89 off 13.3. These partnerships seem like they are of a similar value to their respective teams. Also there was too much of an advantage for a partnership that came in after the fall of a couple of early wickets. It didn't seem correct that Sarwan and Bravo's epic 125 runs off 22.3 overs was worth 250 more than N McCullum and Styris's 120 off 14. It was a great recovery from 0/2 to 125/3, but it still felt a little off.

I came up with a couple of options to deal with this. Firstly I divided the DL prediction at the start and end by 50, then divided by the number of overs faced. This gave me a very interesting result. The numbers suddenly looked a lot more intuitive. It also eliminated the problems with a team getting off to a bad start, or a particularly good start. Clarke and Watson's 110 run partnership that came in at a ridiculous -75 with the old method was now a more sensible 94. They were still penalised for being a lot slower than the team had been going, but not nearly as much.

I also made a slight modification to the predicted score for anything less than 10 overs, by making it a little more moderate. Again I used the Duckworth Lewis g-score of 250, and multiplied the predicted score by the number of overs used, and then 250 by 10 minus the number of overs used, and then divided by 10. Under the old method if a team was on 34/1 off 2 overs, the predicted score would be 410, now it would be 282. This seems a more realistic platform to start with. Once the over calculation in the paragraph above was added in, the start went from 16 to 11. Not a big difference, but probably more fair. This can however cause a problem in the case of a long unbeaten partnership. If a 2nd wicket partnership went from 33/1 off 2 to 333/1 off 50, they would have added 300 runs, but this method would give them 322. However given that this situation is incredibly unlikely, I am happy to live with that issue for now.

Here are the top 15 partnerships under the new method.

Batsmen NamesScoreStartEndDL Adjusted
RR Sarwan, AB Barath16542/2, 12.4 Overs207/3, 43.2 Overs185
AB de Villiers, JP Duminy13182/3, 13.3 Overs213/4, 35.2 Overs171
MJ Guptill, JD Ryder12318/1, 3.4 Overs141/2, 24.5 Overs161
BJ Haddin, SR Watson110-110/1, 19.4 Overs156
MJ Prior, IJL Trott11323/1, 2.5 Overs136/2, 22.1 Overs156
RR Sarwan, DM Bravo1250/2, 1.6 Overs125/3, 24.3 Overs132
HM Amla, MN van Wyk9716/1, 2.3 Overs113/2, 22.2 Overs130
JP Duminy, F du Plessis11090/4, 23.2 Overs200/5, 44.5 Overs126
Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohd. Hafeez9456/3, 13.3 Overs150/4, 36.1 Overs123
SM Davies, AJ Strauss90-90/1, 12.1 Overs120
SE Marsh, CL White10033/4, 12.3 Overs133/5, 32.6 Overs117
DE Bollinger, SE Marsh88142/8, 36.5 Overs230/9, 48.1 Overs110
DJ Hussey, AC Voges95103/4, 25.2 Overs198/5, 39.1 Overs110
NL McCullum, SB Styris120190/5, 35.5 Overs310/6, 49.5 Overs110
SB Styris, KS Williamson8180/3, 14.5 Overs161/4, 33.1 Overs109

One interesting thing here is that there are three quite different partnerships all with DL adjusted results of 110. Each had a very different role in their game, but have all come out the same under this analysis. This feels good intuitively, as it is hard to separate them when the context of each game is taken into account.

Looking at this list, does this seem like a good method for ranking partnerships and their value. There aren't many that seem out of place to me here, and it seems to tell a better story than sorting them just by total runs scored.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Bring back the Tosh?

It is almost like the Auckland selectors were doing a favour for the New Zealand selectors by picking Tim McIntosh for their one day team. After all this is a guy who three weeks ago had a domestic record that was decidedly average. He averaged about 23 in List A matches at the start of the season, and scored his runs very very slowly. And yet for some reason the Auckland selectors felt that he would be worth giving a go opening the innings in the domestic game. There was a train of thought that they were trying to get him a chance to show the selectors why he should be in the test team.

However in 5 innings for Auckland he has scored 313 runs with one not out, for an average of 78.25 at a strike rate of 95.71. Even more interesting was the final innings. He scored 161 off 138, with a stunning acceleration at the end of the innings. He scored 50 off the first 62 balls, with 1 6 and 3 4's, (32 runs that were run off 58 that were not hit to the boundary - activity rate of 0.55, strike rate 80.6) The next 50 runs took 40 deliveries, and included 1 4 and 3 6's (28 runs that were run off 36 not hit to the boundary - activity rate 0.778, strike rate 125) then he really accelerated and hit 61 off the next 36 deliveries, including 5 4's and a 6, (35 runs that were run off 30 deliveries that weren't boundaries - activity rate an incredible 1.167, strike rate 169.4)

I've noted before how poor he is at collecting ones and twos, so the encouraging thing with this innings is the way that he got the runs. He was probably assisted in this by having Lou Vincent as a runner for the latter half of the innings, and having the nimble Gareth Hopkins at the other end. However it is an encouraging sign.

The other thing to note is that his 313 runs include 282 from 2 innings, and 31 in the other 3. This again goes to show that once he is in, he is very difficult to dislodge. The thing that he needs to do if he wants to cement his spot in the team is to get his feet moving early now. This is the last thing that he needs before I will start the "bring back the Tosh" calls genuinely, rather than in jest.

Thursday 3 February 2011


Here are a few things to watch for in Hamilton:

1. The toss. There have only been 5 times that the team that won the toss at Hamilton lost the game. 4 of those were when the team that won the toss chose to bat. It is normally a bowl first pitch.

2. Brendan McCullum. He is the king of Hamilton, averaging 90 at a strike rate of 102 there. However, very few players have played many ODI innings there, so there is not a large sample of players with reliable figures.

3. Openening Batsmen. Despite Mathew Hayden saying once that Hamilton was the hardest place in the world to bat, he scored 181* in his only ODI at the ground. Generally it tends to favour aggressive opening batsmen, Ryder and Sehwag also have done well there.

4. 6's. There is an average of 1 6 hit every 41 deliveries at Hamilton (over the last 10 years). This is about 14 per match. This is the most in NZ, which is surprising, as it's one of the largest grounds in NZ. (it's also the ground where Andre Adams won a game for Auckland, despite needing 12 off the last delivery. He hit a 6 off a no ball, then a 6 off the next ball)

5. Swing bowling. The bowlers that have done the best at this ground are swing bowlers. (and Andre Adams) Johnson, Mills, Tuffey and Martin all have good records here. Look for Mills, Southee, Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir to all be amongst the wickets. (especially in the humid post-cyclonic conditions)

6. Lots of runs and wickets. This ground normally provides a fair contest between bat and ball, where batsmen get full value for aggressive shots, but bowlers get reward by bowling an attacking line. That makes it pretty much the perfect cricket ground. Interestingly when the ground plays badly the team that bats first tends to win more often. There is only twice that a team has won after scoring more than 225 batting first.

Betting suggestions: (Bet365 isn't cooperating today, so odds are from

1. More than 10.5 6's in the match, $1.85
2. Brendan McCullum to be top innings scorer, $7.00
3. Ryder more than 24.5, $1.90
4. New Zealand to win (after winning the toss and bowling), $1.75