Wednesday 26 January 2011

Quick look at Adelaide ODI

A couple of thoughts about the Adelaide match.

1. Adelaide tends to be a good ground for players that are strong playing square of the wicket. Batsmen like Pietersen and Haddin might be good to look at for a top run scorer bet. Likewise Trott is in good form, and hit 78 in the test match here, so at $5 he's not a bad option.

2. Adalaide has been a stronghold for Australia, winning almost 3/4 of the matches played here. They have a RPO of about 0.4 more than their opponents at this ground.

3. It's normally a bat first pitch. (Australia have only lost 4 times out of the 18 times they have batted first in Adelaide. This is a good sign for England, who have won the toss and batted.

4. 272 is the median score for a team batting first and winning at Adelaide over the last 10 years. Les Burdett tends to produce fairly uniform pitches, so this is likely to be about what England will need to win.

Things to watch for in Queenstown

Here's some things to look for in Queenstown today:

In all international matches (mens, womens, under 19's) there have only been 2 occasions where the side batting first have won: Australia under 19's vs Ireland under 19's, and Australia under 19's vs USA under 19's.) As the toss was largely irrelevant due to the mismatch between these sides, it's clearly a bowl first ground. However there is talk that the pitch is a lot drier than usual, so this might level out.

Traditionally medium pacers have done well here. Jacob Oram has enjoyed the ground, bowling 40 overs for 127 runs and 5 wickets. That's only just over 3 an over. Vettori has also had success here, although his figures here are similar to his figures in the rest of New Zealand. Look for Sohail Tanvir and Abdul Razzaq to be a handful on this pitch. Likewise it might suit Styris, if Vettori gives him the ball.

McCullum averages over 100 at a strike rate of 144 at Queenstown, and being an Otago player is quite familiar with the ground. He might be a player to watch with the bat, although normally it tends to favour openers, so in current form, Jesse Ryder might be a expected to do well. Left handers have also generally done better than right handers at Queenstown.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

A different kind of hundred partnership

In a test match if a pair of batsmen put on a hundred partnership, it generally increases the teams score by that number of runs. This seems fairly obvious. The exception comes when a team is trying to put together some quick runs before declaring. In this case the team are often going to declare at a certain score regardless of how many wickets have fallen. In this case if a team is 220/3 or 220/7 they will still get 220. A 2nd wicket partnership of 100 if the team declares at 220 has not necessarily added 100 because the team may have got to that total even if that partnership had been 0. Likewise if a team is chasing a winning total the same thing applies.

A similar situation happens in one day cricket. A team has two resources that they have to convert into runs, wickets and balls. If a team that has 1 over left and 7 wickets in hand, the wickets are completely irrelevant. But at the start of an innings the wickets are very important. A slow 100 run partnership at the end of a match can actually cost a team runs that they should have got. There are famous stories of this happening, including one where Ian Botham deliberately ran out Geoffrey Boycott because he felt Boycott was scoring too slowly.

Fortunately Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis developed a system of describing the number of resources left to a team at various combinations of overs and wickets. While their system was designed solely to help find fair targets/decisions in rain affected matches, it is a useful tool for analysing progress throughout games.

I used their basic version to look at all the partnerships over 70 in ODI's this year. The key things I was looking at were the predicted score then they came to the wicket, and then the predicted score when their partnership ended. I already used this technique once in an earlier post Duckworth Lewis as a prediction tool

The problem came with opening partnerships, as there was no data to use for the inital prediction. As the Duckworth-Lewis system was based on the idea of 250 being the expected score for a team, I used this as my starting point.

Using this system I generated this list of the top partnerships:

Batsmen NamesScoreStartEndDL Difference
MJ Guptill, JD Ryder84-84/1, 10.0 Overs282
SM Davies, AJ Strauss90-90/1, 12.1 Overs245
BJ Haddin, SR Watson110-110/1, 19.4 Overs147
HM Amla, MN van Wyk9716/1, 2.3 Overs113/2, 22.2 Overs133
SE Marsh, CL White10033/4, 12.3 Overs133/5, 32.6 Overs128

Haddin and Watson scored 26 more than Ryder and Guptill, but because they took 9.4 overs more to do it, their partnership is not rated as highly. The biggest problem with this way of measuring partnerships is that it penalises a pair if someone else did particularly well. For example, when Haddin got out, Michael Clarke came in an added 103 with Watson, in 19.1 overs at 5.37 which is not a bad effort in the middle overs. However the DL predicted score when Clarke arrived was 397, and it reduced to 322 by the time he departed, giving them a score of -75. However the team were chasing 295, so effectively they are being penalised for the good start, and for them pacing the innings appropriately.

I'll do an update of this table at the end of the group stage of the World Cup and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Saturday 22 January 2011


I just watched a very brief ODI between New Zealand. It was the third of 3 ODI matches that were played over 2 days in the Southern Hemisphere.

First Australia eventually beat England by a quite large margin, then the rain robbed South Africa of another opportunity to choke against India, and then finally New Zealand snapped their 11 match losing streak in ODI's with a performance that defied most superlatives.

But despite these games going slightly against recent form, all three of them continue a long-term trend. These three matches were all played at fortresses.

By a fortress I mean a ground where the home team has won more than twice as many as they lose, and have a RPO scored of more that 0.5 more than RPO conceded. The lucky coincidence is that these three games were played at the grounds that are at the top of the list for RPO difference.

Here is the list of the 6 fortresses: (qualification 15 matches)

TeamStadiumW/LRPO forRPO againstRPO difference
New ZealandCaketin, Wellington2.405.164.370.79
South AfricaNewlands, Cape Town6.254.964.180.78
AustraliaBellerive Oval, Hobart3.665.054.330.72
West IndiesArnos Vale, St Vincent5.664.413.820.59
South AfricaSpringbok Park, Bloemfontein2.005.104.540.56
South AfricaBuffalo Park, East London2.754.864.320.54

There is one interesting result in there, Arnos Vale in St Vincent (pictured above). The results there are certainly helped by 3 matches against Zimbabwe and 2 matches against Bangladesh, but even removing these matches, they still have a W/L ratio of 4 and a RPO difference of 0.4. The other extraordinary thing about this is that all but one of the matches are after 1992. (That's after the retirement of Marshall, Garner, Holding, Richards etc.)

The next 3 games are at Centurion, Adelaide and Queenstown, all of which only just miss out on this list, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see a repeat of the last two days results.

There is only one ground in the world that is a fortress for the away teams, Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka. Bangladesh have won only 3 of 32 matches there, and have conceded 1.2 runs per over more than they have scored. However, with the improvement in the Bangladesh team, and the extra teams that have been given ODI status, look for that statistic to change.

Thursday 20 January 2011

From the mouth of...

I noticed something interesting in the test matches. Often people complain about the incessant talk by the wicket-keepers being picked up by the stump microphones, but in this match it was quite revealing.

Here's what they were saying:

Reece Young: "Just one mistake boys"
Adnan Akmal: "Come on, bowl that magic ball"

The difference in approach to bowling is remarkable. The Pakistani approach was to try and bowl a delivery that would get the batsman out. The New Zealand approach was to bowl a ball that would make a batsman make a mistake.

The New Zealand approach is fine if the batsmen are attacking, but it is next to useless if they are just occupying the crease. Perhaps that's why New Zealand has the third worst balls per wicket of any team over the last 3 years (only slightly behind Bangladesh and the West Indies).

It also explains why New Zealand bowl so poorly in the 3rd and 4th innings. While they average 71.6 deliveries per wicket in a teams first innings, they average 85.4 deliveries per wicket in the second innings.

To look at those numbers, New Zealand should expect it to take 120 overs to bowl out a team in their first innings. This is 4 sessions, which is about what you would expect. However, it would take 143 overs to bowl them out in the second innings. This is almost 5 sessions. If they take 4 sessions in the first innings, and 5 in the second, it only leaves 6 sessions for New Zealand to score their runs.

Given New Zealand's economy rates of 3.04 in the first innings, and 2.96 in the second innings they will require roughly 780 runs to win these games. With only 182 overs to bat, NZ need to score at 4.29 per over to get enough runs, and have enough time to bowl a team out. Given that this is unrealistic, they either need to re-think their bowling approach in the final innings, or be prepared to either lose or draw most tests.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Time to pick a NZ World Cup team.

At tea today, the NZ squad of 15 is named. However it's much more fun to name our own teams before they name theirs.

The team has to be made up of players from the 30 man squad:

Brent Arnel, Hamish Bennett, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Ian Butler, Grant Elliott, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, James Franklin, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Peter McGlashan, Andy McKay, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Shanan Stewart, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock, Reece Young.

Unfortunately this means no Redmond, Vincent, Bates, Aldridge or Mason.

Here's my team:

B McCullum
N McCullum

What's your 15?

Tuesday 18 January 2011

The First Innings Spinner

In the modern game (the era of covered pitches) the role of a spinner has often been to come in when the pitch is starting to break up and bowl out a team. The theory is that a good spin bowler is almost impossible to play on the final day and a half of a test match.

There is one glaring exception to this rule: Daniel Vettori.

With his subtle changes of pace, and the fact that he relies more on bounce than spin, he has often found the pitches at the end of the game less to his liking than the ones at the start.

Less than 10% of his wickets have come in the fourth innings. He only once took a 5 wicket bag in the 4th innings, and that was in his first season, when he was a very different bowler than he is now.

To demonstrate the difference I've compiled a list of bowlers based on their performances first in a teams first innings, then in a teams second innings:

Bowling in a teams 1st innings by a modern spinner. (qual. 90 wickets)

NameWicketsAverageStrike-rate5 Wicket bags
SCG MacGill11229.0853.86
M Muralitharan45823.9457.939
BS Chandrasekhar12529.4161.111
SK Warne34928.0461.318
Saqlain Mushtaq13530.2265.411
Abdul Qadir15132.1970.110
Danish Kaneria14937.2671.18
A Kumble33932.1672.518
DL Vettori21532.6174.413
Harbhajan Singh21937.2875.514
Mushtaq Ahmed10440.1679.24
Iqbal Qasim9331.7484.74
BS Bedi12434.4389.96
RJ Shastri10644.281112

This puts him in some good company, at a similar level to Anil Kumble, Abdul Qadir and Danish Kaneria, all very good bowlers.

However the next table is for a teams second innings. It is not so flattering.

Bowling in a teams 2nd innings by a modern spinner. (qual. 50 wickets)

NameWicketsAverageStrike-rate5 Wicket bags
M Muralitharan34221.0851.228
Mushtaq Ahmed8123.7452.96
SK Warne35922.8553.719
SCG MacGill9628.9654.16
Harbhajan Singh17425.015711
A Kumble28026.65817
PR Adams6730.64581
JG Bracewell5525.21604
GP Swann6028.4660.55
Danish Kaneria11231.563.37
N Boje6230.1264.62
BS Bedi7221.7964.84
BS Chandrasekhar5528.7264.83
MS Panesar6429.3165.36
Iqbal Qasim7823.7865.84
AA Mallett5529.2171.61
Saqlain Mushtaq7329.1271.72
AF Giles6136.0976.52
Abdul Qadir8533.8876.85
PL Harris5230.6978.11
JE Emburey6328.6182.44
DL Vettori12936.0882.56
PCR Tufnell5829.1882.83
ST Jayasuriya5135.1388.70

To make matters worse, if we compare the averages, then he moves a step further down the table, with only Ashley Giles below him (and then only by 0.01 of a run).

The contrast between the two tables is quite incredible. He is one of only two spin bowlers to have taken 100 wickets in the modern era, and average worse in the second innings than the first. The other bowler is Graeme Swann, and his averages are only 0.67 apart. Vettori's difference is 3.47.

If he is to bowl out Pakistan in the fourth innings in the current test at Wellington, it will be a performance against the form book.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Vettori's Innings

At the close of play yesterday, I had a quick look at Vettori's score. He had 38 off 59 with 4 4's. This gave him a strike rate of 64 and an activity rating of 0.4. I looked at his last 65 innings (roughly since he started batting well) and looked at every time he had made it to 20 deliveries, what his activity rating was.

Activity ratingAverage
Less than 0.224.83
More than 0.255.54
0.4 or higher65

His incredible rate of hitting runs continued even when he had Martin and Arnel at the other end, with his final total of 110 coming from 166 balls, and containing 10 4's and 1 6. This gave him an activity rating of 0.413.

He has generally scored his runs quite quickly, but his ability to turn over the strike, and score runs by running has increased dramatically throughout his career.

RangeActivity rating

This puts him near the top of all batsmen since 2008:

NameActivity rating
TM Dilshan0.451
MJ Prior0.389
V Sehwag0.388
DL Vettori0.342
RT Ponting0.329
GC Smith0.323
KC Sangakkara0.317
Mahela Jayawardene0.316
Harbhajan Singh0.314
AB de Villiers0.311

A surprising thing about this is how high Harbhajan Singh is. He always struck me as a batsman that scored most of his runs in boundaries, but it appears that he is more competent at hitting runs than I gave him credit for.

So far the Pakistani batsman have not found it so easy to find runs in the field, Azhar Ali has an activity rating so far of 0.2 and Taufeeq Umar has the McIntoshesque rating of 0.168.

It will be interesting to see if they can improve this as the innings progresses.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Batting against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, and a sneaky bet

Wellington has traditionally been a difficult place to play cricket for the uninitiated.

The nearness to the sea means that it tends to swing in the morning. The strong winds means that it's difficult to bowl, and run between wickets. The pitch is normally sporting, and the light is often not so good for batting.

Often the bowlers find the start of the day to their liking, but as the wind gets up in the afternoon, things swing to being in the batsman's favour.

I found an interesting statistic for games at the Basin in the last 10 years.

In a teams first innings against New Zealand this is the breakdown per position:


The average of 50 for position 3 is greatly increased by Sangakkara's masterful 156* in 2006. Sangakkara had played at the Basin just a year and a bit earlier. If we remove this it drops to 444 runs at 37.

The interesting result is number 7. 478 runs at 36.67. Almost all the number 7's in the list are wicket-keepers. In fact wicketkeepers have generally batted very well at the Basin Reserve (averaging 38.27 vs NZ in the last 10 years)

Which (when combined with his good performance in Hamilton) makes Adnan Akmal at $17 to be the top scorer in the Pakistan 1st innings very very tempting. That's where I've put my 20c.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Duckworth Lewis as a prediction tool

A few years ago I signed up with to see how good my cricket prediction skills were. I'm not really a gambler, so I quite liked the fact that I could make 20c bets, where the aim was really to see how good my skills are.

I discovered that I'm quite good at betting on cricket, but terrible at betting on American sports, Rugby League and Football. Overall the different sports have canceled each other out, I put in $60, I've taken out $75, and I have about $7 in there at the moment. (As I said I'm not a big gambler). My highlight was probably my very first bet, Bangladesh to beat India at $8.00 at the world cup.

One thing that I found to be quite useful was a score predictor that I made using the Duckworth-Lewis tables. While they are not fool-proof, they are certainly better than any method that I've found. They just need to be applied using common sense. If New Zealand are playing bump the score up a little (given that New Zealand bowlers are better at batting than New Zealand batsmen), if a minnow is playing drop the score down a little (non-test teams tend to suffer terrible collapses - tail often starts at 5 or 6)

The tables are also not much use for the first 5-10 overs, but the scores normally start to be realistic about over 15.

For example, in the South Africa - India game last night, after 20 overs the DL predictor had South africa getting 273 (they eventally got to 289) while after 20 overs it had India getting 161 (they got 154). These are fairly good predictions after 40% of the innings.

Another interesting game is the first match between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe from December 1. After 20 overs Zimbabwe were 84/3, with a DL score of 219 (they eventually got 209). Bangladesh were cruising at 76/1 (DL score 270). However a Ray Price wicket followed closely by a run out left Bangladesh in trouble after 22 overs at 83/3 (DL score of 205) and this turned out to be the turning point, as they eventually were bowled out in the final over for 200, falling 9 runs short.

It is also a useful tool to quantify contributions of partnerships. Just after de Villiers and Duminy came together it was 82/3 off 14 (DL score of 247). Just after de Villiers departed it was 215/4 off 36 (DL score of 335). The difference that their partnership made was an increase of 88 to the DL score, which is really quite impressive.

> As a side note their partnership of 131 contained only 36 runs in boundaries, and yet it came at a run a ball. More evidence of the importance of running between wickets (and fielding)

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Concentration or Technique

To be a great batsman it requires good technique and good skills of concentration.

Generally players who have a flaw in their technique are shown up early in their innings, while players who have lapses in concentration tend to have difficulty converting starts to big scores.

The challenge is to see if there is a way to quantify this.

So I took a range of batsmen, and looked at their average, compared to their average score after 20. (to get this I found their average on all innings when they had reached 20, and then subtracted 20, to find out how many more they got.)

There were a couple of interesting results. I was expecting McIntosh, North and Samaraweera to have high averages once they got to 50, but I didn't know who to expect to be at the bottom end.

Here is the table:

NameAverage after TwentyOverall AverageDifference
MJ North 67.6635.4832.18
TG McIntosh 54.6027.5427.06
AG Prince 67.6845.6122.07
S Chanderpaul 77.7857.0020.78
MJ Prior 60.8342.9617.87
DPMD Jayawardene 81.8063.9517.85
SR Tendulkar 74.0457.4816.56
Shoaib Malik 49.7633.7715.99
Younis Khan 75.6559.9315.72
HM Amla 65.0749.8015.27
IR Bell 58.9043.7315.17
TT Samaraweera 76.6861.9014.78
MJ Clarke 62.8050.2712.53
AB de Villiers 59.7847.6512.13
KC Sangakkara 83.3171.3211.99
Misbah-ul-Haq 60.548.7511.75
V Sehwag 64.4853.3411.14
PD Collingwood 52.8241.7211.10
MJ Guptill 44.7233.6811.04
Kamran Akmal 44.5734.0510.52
JH Kallis 66.7257.788.94
Yuvraj Singh 43.5034.788.72
RT Ponting 54.9446.708.24
Mohammad Yousuf 67.4559.517.94
R Dravid 52.9645.117.85
IJL Trott 69.2361.537.70
MEK Hussey 55.6248.317.31
VVS Laxman 59.9052.946.96
MS Dhoni 46.2740.236.04
KP Pietersen 54.6048.945.66
PJ Hughes 44.8039.555.25
AN Cook 51.8347.504.33
IK Pathan 43.0038.854.15
BJ Haddin 43.0339.683.35
Tamim Iqbal 41.8040.131.67
BP Nash 40.1238.851.27
GC Smith 49.1348.111.02
CH Gayle 46.8245.960.86
AJ Strauss 42.5041.980.52
LRPL Taylor 40.3840.210.17
TM Dilshan 45.0245.4-0.38
G Gambhir 57.2557.95-0.70
SR Watson 42.2443.53-1.29
SM Katich 47.4650.48-3.02
JD Ryder 41.7847.76-5.98

There are a couple of results that I find interesting in this group. Firstly how high Matt Prior's difference is. Most wicket-keepers have very a very good eye, and as a result tend to not get out for low scores as often (the average difference for non-keepers is 8.73, while the average for keepers is 7.68)

The number of batsmen who regularly face the new ball being in the bottom half of the group is also surprising. Given that there is a much higher chance of getting out early when facing a new ball, I expected openers such as Dilshan, Ghambir, Watson, and Katich to cash in better when they got a start. (I'm aware that Dilshan played half his games in the middle order diring this period, but strangely his difference was greater in the middle order than opening)

Something that I don't want to mention, but it is interesting is the other two names at the bottom of this list: Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder. Martin Crowe (quite rightly) got criticized heavily for saying that Maori and Polynesian cricketers were never going to have the impact that Maori and Polynesian rugby players did, because they generally didn't have the concentration required. Taylor (Samoan) and Ryder (Maori) were trumpeted as the counter-examples to his theory, but perhaps their success has more to do with technique than concentration. (Ryder is possibly the most technically fluent batsmen playing the game at the moment, I never got a chance to see Sir Frank Worrell bat, but the description of him as playing grammatically correct shots could equally be made of Ryder's batting in tests. - he does lose his aesthetic pleasentness somewhat in limited overs cricket however)

Of the 38 players who have averaged adding more than 60 after 20 in history, more than half (21) have played in the 2000's. The top 5 are Bradman (obviously), Amiss, Tendulkar, Steve Waugh and Kallis.

It certainly adds something to watch for during the next test match series.

Saturday 8 January 2011

8th Wicket partnership

One remarkable feature of the current test match happening in Hamilton is the 8th wicket partnership between Williamson and Southee. Already at 83 it is equal with the 2nd wicket partnership as the largest of the innings.

I wondered if this partnership was remarkable, so I looked up a list of all 100 run 8th wicket partnerships where the score started at 200 or less.

The surprising thing was how many there were. If Williamson and Southee manage to make another 17 runs then they will be the 5th partnership to achieve this since August 2009.

Given that it has only happened 33 times in the history of cricket, this seems like a very large number.

Wednesday 5 January 2011


Short post tonight, as I'm in the Far North of New Zealand, a place with no RadioSport, and very limited internet accessibility. (On the plus side I went out on a beach and gathered some shellfish today, and saw my first ever weasel!)

For a long time in the deveopment of ODI's to the current form, there were many different methods used to decide the results. Methods were used involving run rates, removing the lowest overs, etc. All of them tended to provide skewed results.

Then Duckworth and Lewis came up with their method of calculating targets and results in rain affected matches. While it took a while for everybody to agree with it, eventually the fairness of their system won over most of it's critics.

However a similar situation is still happening, but without anyone really noticing it. The net runrate (NRR) system seemed to me to be the fairest method of tie-breaker between two teams that have the same number of wins in a tournament. However I'm no longer so sure.

I have a couple of situations that might suggest that a better situation is needed.

Game 1:
Team A scores 144 all out in 31 overs on a green pitch.
In reply Team B scores 145/9 off 35 overs.

The NRR for Team A after their win is 1.323, and -1.323 for Team B.

Game 2:
Team C scores 225/2 off their 50 overs.
In reply Team D struggles to 185/7 off their 50 overs.

The NRR here is ±0.8

Is this fair? Is game two closer than game one? I personally don't think so. I would prefer to use a system based on resourses remaining. Perhaps an adaptation of Duckworth Lewis for this situation would be a better idea.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

More on activity ratings

My last post looked at a batsman's activity rating (their runs per ball not hit to the boundary).

Here I'm going to look at some more figures to do with activity ratings.

I first looked at the last twelve years of test cricket (I'm missing some data for 1997, so I can only look from 1998 onwards). During this time there has been a noticeable increase in batsman's activity ratings. This may be due to a number of factors, perhaps the fielding is better now, so many shots that would have got 4 now get 2's or 3's. Perhaps captains are setting more defensive fields, and so there are more gaps, or perhaps the batsmen are just getting better at scoring ones and twos.

YearActivity rating

If you plot it on a graph (and I did because I'm a maths teacher) it has an incredibly linear relationship, with the annual activity rating increasing by about 0.004 per year.

The next thing that I did was to look at the the results for ODI's and twenty twenty internationals. The interesting thing here is that the same trend did not reoccur. The ODI numbers were fairly constant, between 0.4 and 0.5, while the T20 results show not consistency at all (possibly due to the format being so new, and it initially been seen as not very serious).

19980.491 -
19990.440 -
20000.450 -
20010.460 -
20020.459 -
20030.424 -
20040.450 -

The interesting thing here is that 2002 and 2006 both were significantly lower than the other years in ODI's. It might warrant some further investigation as to why this is, although 2006 was the first year that matches between non-test playing nations were considered ODI's, and games involving Bangladesh and Kenya were first recognised in 2002, so these could be contributing factors.

The next thing that I looked at was the ratings for each team for the last 3 years. With the exception of Sri Lanka, the ranking of the teams by activity is the same as the ranking of the teams by the ICC, and (with the exception of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) it is a very good guide to the ICC ranking points.

TeamActivity rating
Sri Lanka0.311
South Africa0.280
West Indies0.249
New Zealand0.243

I'll draw some more info out of it in my next post.

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.

Sunday 2 January 2011

HRV Cup final

I've just returned from the HRV Cup final (New Zealand's domestic 2020 competition)

The right result happened, with Auckland winning. Something that I found interesting though was two little details. 5 times Auckland managed to turn 2's into 3's or 1's into 2's by running hard. During Central's innings there were 3 times where a great piece of fielding stopped them getting either the 2nd or 3rd run. The running and fielding made a difference of 8 between the two sides.

Auckland won by 4.

Perhaps there is a lesson in that.

Saturday 1 January 2011

9 times out of 10 you should bat first?

I once head an old cricket follower suggest that there was a saying that if you won the toss, 9 times out of 10 you should bat first, and the tenth time you should think about putting the other team in, and then bat first.

However, as someone who has repeatedly watched the New Zealand cricket team bat first, struggle to post a competitive score, and been badly beaten many times, this saying didn't ring true to me.

So I did some digging into the stats to see first if my memory of New Zealand doing poorly when batting first was accurate or not, and secondly to see if New Zealand were any worse at batting first than everyone else.

The first thing that I did was look up all countries results over the last three years, in all formats (I excluded any team that either batted or bowled less than 20 times in the last 3 years). The results were interesting.

When comparing wins per loss for batting first and batting second the results came out like this:

Team W/L Batting W/L Fielding Ratio
Kenya 0.16 0.5 3.125
West Indies 0.24 0.52 2.167
Bangladesh 0.32 0.55 1.71
England 1.2 1.77 1.475
India 1.4 2.05 1.46
Zimbabwe 0.44 0.58 1.32
Ireland 1.33 1.41 1.06
New Zealand 0.84 0.83 0.99
Australia 1.75 1.62 0.93
Sri Lanka 1.46 1.33 0.91
South Africa 3.09 1.89 0.61
Pakistan 1.34 0.73 0.54

The interesting thing here is that most teams are actually better at fielding first, rather than batting first.

My theory was the there was some players who found it difficult to know how to bat when they hadn't seen another team play on a pitch. The next step was to look at team batting averages batting first and second. This time I only included matches between teams that had played test cricket during this period (excludes Zimbabwe). I also excluded innings 3 and 4 from my calculations, as I was more interested in seeing if the psychological impact of not knowing how a pitch was going to play could be measured statistically.

I found the teams batting average when batting first, then subtracted that teams bowling average bowling second. I then did likewise for batting second and bowling first. The larger the difference the better a team is performing.

TeamDifference batting firstDifference batting secondDifference
Sri Lanka5.82-1.267.08
New Zealand-4.14-2.45-1.69
West Indies-14.88-9.89-4.99

This shows only Sri Lanka and Pakistan being better at batting first, although both of them are much, much better at batting first. (Interestingly Sri Lanka is better at batting second away from home, but they score so well batting first at home that it skews the figures)

The results were quite surprising. They showed that New Zealand were actually roughly in the middle of all teams when it comes to the difference between batting first and batting second. However it does make the whitewash of NZ by India a little more understandable, given NZ batted first in 4 of the matches.