Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Good years as an all rounder

Over the last three years, Jason Holder has produced some incredible numbers. His bowling stats are like something out of the 1800's, and he has also averaged over 40 with the bat at the same time.

It made me wonder about how well he fitted in compared to other all rounders from history.

Hot on the heels of my first ever animated graph last week, I have another one today, showing every player who had at least 5 three year periods where they were in the top 23% of run scorers and wicket takers, and where they had a batting average over 17. (That last condition was necessary due to a period where the batsmen were interchanged regularly in the 1880's, resulting in the top run scorers including some bowlers who averaged below 10 with the bat.)
As it scrolls through, it becomes clear just how exceptional Holder's recent run has been.


I also like the way that career progression is shown on this graph. The red point is the last successful three year period, while the blue dot is the first. Some players transition from a specialist to a bits-and-pieces player, others move the opposite direction. JR Reid went from having bits-and-pieces player numbers, specialist batsman numbers, to specialist bowler numbers, and then back to bits-and-pieces player numbers.

Others (like Steve Waugh) saw their bowling numbers improve significantly once they stopped regularly bowling. This is an understandable phenomenon, as they tend to move to only bowling when the conditions are perfect for them, instead of bowling in any conditions. 

The lower dashed lines are at the average for all frontline bowlers (position 1-4) and batsmen (position 1-7) since the first world war (when rollers started being used regularly). The higher valued lines are two arbitrary selected values, a batting average of 50 and a bowling wphr of 4 (average of 25) that seem to divide the good from the great.

They were just there to make the graph easier to interpret.

In some ways, this is shaping up as if it could be a new golden era for all rounders, similar to the 1980's with Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Clive Rice and Sir Richard Hadlee. Shakib Al Hasan, Ben Stokes, Jason Holder, Ravindra Jadeja and Colin de Grandhomme are all regularly producing match defining performances. However, the nature of those performances is not always the same.

Holder is generally dominating with the ball, while contributing with the bat. Jadeja has moved from dominating with the ball to dominating with the bat, while Shakib has been consistently very good with the bat, and mostly solid with the ball. Stokes and de Grandhomme have been more above average performers with both the bat and the ball when looked at overall, but both have had a mixture of quiet games and outstanding ones.

Finally, to get a feel for just how good Holder has been from 2018-2020, I came up with a very rough way of combining the results to find one single number. I ran a series of polls on cricket groups on Facebook, aimed at finding out what value people gave different performances. It seemed like multiplying the wickets per 100 runs by 12 gave a number that was weighted roughly the same as the batting average of the same number. A bowling average of 25 (wphr of 4) is about the same as a batting average of 48. A batting average of 54 is about the same as a bowling wphr of 4.5 (bowling average of 22.22)

Using those two numbers I just found the euclidean distance (ie used Pythagoras' theorem) from 0 to get a guide to how good the performances were.

Holder's year is not yet completed, but he is certainly in some good company. 

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