Saturday 12 May 2012

Spring Cricket in England

Recently I was having a conversation with someone who was telling me how much more competitive the County Championship was than the Plunket Shield. I found their logic difficult to agree with. It went along the lines of England are a better team than New Zealand - therefore the County Championship is better than the Plunket Shield.

This seems to be a flawed way of assessing a competition to me. It would be like saying that Uruguay are currently ranked ahead of Italy in football, so the Uruguayan Primera DivisiĆ³n must be better than the Serie A. It might be true, but it seems unlikely. So I thought about how we could assess the strength of different competitions.

One option I thought of was looking at all the players who played in both competitions, and looking at their averages in each, and seeing which was better.

Now it's much too soon to assess the current season, but when I looked at the numbers so far, I did notice something interesting.

There are 5 players (that I know of) who have played in both the County Championship and the Plunket Shield, Andre Adams, Steven Finn, Martin Guptill, Jeetan Patel and Kane Williamson. Here are the collective results:

BattingPlunket ShieldCounty Championship
Not outs55

On the face of it, the numbers don't tell us clearly which competition is stronger, although there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account here. Williamson and Guptill only played one match each in the Plunket Shield, and both of them scored unbeaten double centuries in their single match. The other 19 innings in NZ produced 360 runs.

It is not fair to compare a partial season to a full one, as there are often phases in a season when it is easier and harder to score runs.

For me the biggest difference is just how much harder batting seems to be in England than in New Zealand. The ratio between averages is similar (the batsmen scored 44% more in New Zealand, and the bowlers conceded 46% less in England)

The pitches just seem to be a lot harder to bat on in the start of the season in England than in New Zealand. It will be interesting to look at these numbers again later in the season and see if the same trend still applies.

1 comment:

  1. The batting in England right now is very difficult. It's not even entirely the pitches, the conditions (on the odd occasion when it has not been raining) have been very conducive to swing bowling as well. It's always bowler-friendly at the start of the season, but this year seems to have been especially bad.

    With regard to your main point, I don't see enough of the Plunket Shield to have an opinion on which competition is better, but even beyond that I think it's hard to define 'better'. I've noticed that it usually means either a high standard of play, or a close league/matches with a result and a lot to interest the neutral spectator. The two do not necessarily go together, though.