Thursday 25 July 2013

Shane Watson and The Form Myth

Shane Watson. Out lbw. Again.
I read somewhere recently that Shane Watson is in bad form.

They implied that he needed to go away and "discover some form." The more I am involved with cricket, the less I believe in form.

Shane Watson has a technical deficiency. He moves his front foot too far across when he is playing in-swing. He also clears his front leg against left arm spin, and plays across the ball. These technical problems aren't really an issue if he's playing against lower quality bowlers, because he can hit the ball, and so he doesn't get out lbw. Once he faces bowlers who can bowl the ball in the places where he finds it difficult to play, he gets out. The champion of cricket on YouTube, Robelinda2 has put up a compilation of some of his lbw dismissals here.

It seems that it often happens once he starts to attack the bowling. It means that his larger innings tend to get cut short even once he's underway. That's why he was labelled by one commentator as Wall Street (great in the twenties, crashes in the 30's and 40's).

I compared Watson with all top 7 batsmen in the last 3 years on their likelihood to get out lbw. Most of us have heard that Watson gets out lbw more than anyone in history except Junior Murray (min 30 matches), but when he gets out is particularly interesting.

I looked at the relative frequency of dismissal by lbw in innings under 30 and in innings 30+. I compared it to other batsmen in the last 3 years. (I picked the last 3 years to include the DRS factor) Here are the numbers:

ScoreWatsonOther Batsmen
30 +28.95%13.78%

Watson is 63% more likely to get out lbw at the start of his innings than other batsmen, but he is 110% more likely than them to get out later on. It is a technical issue, not a form issue. Going away and playing some lower quality bowlers will not fix it. He needs to work on where to put his feet and how to play the different deliveries that are getting him out.

If he does fix that technical issue, the commentators will all say that he's in great form.  But perhaps it will just be that the bowlers are trying to bowl the ball to him in a way that he is now equipped to deal with.


  1. Nothing like a bit of mythbusting around cricket cliches.

  2. Great post, and love the general point on form. Suggested a similar thing here: