Friday, 9 December 2011

Do New Zealand need to bat differently?

New Zealand's top 5 have been criticised by everyone who has a voice on the radio, TV and in the newspapers over the last few days following the Gabba gazumping. The usual suspects have been out: Nash, Crowe, Turner, Boock, all saying that we need to get back to having more spine, and stop trying to play so quickly.

So I though I'd look at how the current batsmen stack up. Rather than looking at their batting averages, I've looked at the median scores at 5 down and 6 down. Medians seem to be the in-thing in statistics at the moment. I've been to a number of university stats seminars recently, and medians are everywhere. There are a couple of advantages to a median in this situation, this really shows us what we can expect, half of the scores are better than the median, and half are lower. Not-out's are also not given special treatment, and extreme values are ignored. In a lot of ways the median is what we can expect a team to get. I've found the average score when the number 7 comes to the wicket, and also when the number 8 comes to the wicket. This shows the contribution of the batsmen, and so it is an interesting statistic for comparison.

Here are the results for all countries over the past 2 years. I've separated Zimbabwe as they haven't played many games, and their results don't seem to be realistic.

Team5 down6 down
SA235256.5
SL227271
Eng220257.5
Pak195176
Ind183240
Ban167196
NZ166216
Aus164206.5
WI134.5158.5
Zim237.5303
Overall176215


There is a bit of a discrepancy there with Pakistan, who average more for 5 down than they do for the 6 down due to having a number of innings finish 5 down with a large score.

New Zealand sit quite low at 5 down, but in the middle of the table at 6 down, due to the Vettori factor. (Vettori has averaged about 40 over the last few years, batting at 7) So the New Zealand top 5 have not exactly set the world on fire, but there are a couple of caveats there. Firstly New Zealand have to play on New Zealand pitches, which tend to swing and seam more with the new ball, making the early batsmen particularly vulnerable (only 16 batsmen in NZ's history have averaged more than 35, and 4 of those spent most of their career batting at 6 or 7)

So a better comparison is New Zealand through the years:

1975-1978152180
1979-1982162183
1983-1986149192
1987-1990154174
1991-1994147187
1995-1998133164
1999-2002153193
2003-2006150190
2007-2010158193

This shows that the last 2 years have been better than New Zealand's history would suggest. Perhaps the era of Wright, Edgar, Crowe and Coney were not quite as golden as they would like to suggest. Perhaps the New Zealand batsmen (despite the recent debacle) are actually not going so badly.

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