Sunday 29 January 2012

Right players, wrong formats?

I was pleased to see that Michael Bates was picked for the New Zealand ODI and T20 teams. I was especially pleased to see that the selection manager commented that he had played well in pressure situations, mirroring my thoughts.

I was also pleased that two other Auckland players, and one former Auckland player that I have enjoyed watching: Colin de Grandhomme, Roneel Hira and Taran Nethula, were also picked. However I have some concerns about the role that de Grandhomme is likely to be asked to perform.

I'll give some background to this. I used to really enjoy watching Craig Spearman play cricket. Particularly the longer form. He had the ability to score runs, and could do it quickly, but had a good temperament and played responsibly when he needed to. Unfortunately he got branded a one day specialist, and got frustrated and left our shores for England.

He only got to play in 19 tests, and averaged about 26 in them (which is not great) but a lot of those matches were played on green-tops and of the players that played in 10 of those tests with him, only 3 averaged over 30. Craig McMillan averaged 28, so there were 4 that averaged more than him. During the same time he played 51 ODI's for an average of 18.72. This is the second lowest average of any batsman who batted more than 40 times in the top 6. Only Alok Kapali stands between him and the title of worst ODI batsman ever. He was in the top 5 in his country for tests, and played only 19, but was a terrible ODI player and played 51. Gloucestershire were not so foolish. They gave him a chance to play a lot of first class cricket, and he rewarded them scoring 19 centuries for them between 2003 and 2007, including their record score of 341.

The New Zealand selectors then repeated the dose. They picked Andre Adams as an ODI specialist also. Now it's not that Adams was a bad ODI player. A bowling average of 31 and a bowling average of 5.22, combined with a batting average of 17.45 and a strike rate over 100 suggests that he was a useful contributor. However he only got to play one test. He took 3/44 in the first innings and 3/61 in the second, helping lead New Zealand to a victory over England. For some reason he was never again selected to play a test match, and has remained with an average of 17.5. He was never selected despite having a first class average of about 23 and repeatedly taking truck loads of wickets in first class matches for Auckland and Notts. (He took the third most first class wickets in the world in 2010 and 2011, and also took more than 50 wickets in 2005, 2006 and 2007). But he was pigeon-hoed as a one day player, so he wasn't picked for any more test cricket. As a result Adams made use of his Vincentian ancestry and is now eligible for the West Indies instead of New Zealand.

The next player to have suffered this fate at the hands of the New Zealand selectors was Neil Broom. (Now they still have time to redeem this one, as he is still available for selection.) Broom is an aggressive top/middle order batsman from Otago. He has scored 10 first class hundreds in 69 matches at an average of over 40. Normally batting at number 3 or 4. As a result the selectors picked him at number 6 and 7 for a few one day matches. He has also not been picked for a test yet. He's another good player who had performed much better in first class than in limited overs cricket, and yet has only been picked in the format that he's been the least successful in.

Now the selectors have picked de Grandhomme to play in the t20's and Cantabrian Andrew Ellis to play in the ODI matches. Both are big hitting batsmen, and reasonable medium/fast medium bowlers. However de Grandhomme has been amazing in the one day matches, and good in the t20's and Ellis has been a star in the t20's, but not quite as effective in the one day matches.

Here are their results this season:

.De GrandhommeEllis
List A runs117106
List A average58.5026.50
List A strike rates121.87116.48
T20 runs156129
T20 average22.2821.50
T20 strike rates160.82186.95
List A batting effectiveness71.2930.87
T20 batting effectiveness35.8340.19
List A wickets35
List A averages32.6632.60
List A economy4.454.63
T20 wickets27
T20 averages17.0037.28
T20 economy8.508.41
List A bowling effectiveness24.2225.16
T20 bowling effectiveness24.0852.25

* de Grandhomme hardly bowled in T20 matches (only 4 overs), and as a results his averages for this form are not a good indication of his ability.

Effectiveness is runs per wicket x runs per ball. It is a good way of measuring players skills in limited overs matches.

We see that Ellis has had a worse season than de Grandhomme in the 50 over matches both with the bat and the ball, but performed better with the bat in the t20 matches than de Grandhomme and actually bowled a reasonable number of overs, rather than just filling in on occasion.

While this is a small sample, I feel that the two players are in the wrong teams. They are the right players, but if there is only room for one in each team then they have been picked in the wrong formats.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Mini-session analysis for only Test NZ ZIM 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the test between New Zealand and Zimbabwe at Napier.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aNew Zealand 68/0 off 14New Zealand
1-1bNew Zealand 30/0 off 14New Zealand
1-2aNew Zealand 33/2 off 12Zimbabwe
1-2bNew Zealand 63/0 off 16New Zealand
1-3aNew Zealand 56/2 off 14Zimbabwe
1-3bNew Zealand 81/1 off 21New Zealand
2-1aNew Zealand 53/0 off 14New Zealand
2-1bNew Zealand 8/0 off 1.2-
3-1aNew Zealand 94/2 off 18.2New Zealand
3-1bZimbabwe 20/5 off 15New Zealand
3-2aZimbabwe 30/3 off 13New Zealand
3-2bZimbabwe 13/5 off 10New Zealand
3-3aZimbabwe 51/3 off 14New Zealand
3-3bZimbabwe 80/4 off 25.3New Zealand

New Zealand win the match by an innings and 301 runs, and the mini-session count 11-2. I didn't award either team a mini-session for the 8 deliveries in 2-1b. I also awarded Zimbabwe 1-3a. That mini-session was right on the border, and fell on NZ's side in my normal formula by 1 run, however I felt that Zimbabwe slightly edged it.

Zimbabwe's tail wagged well today, but their top order was appalling twice. Both innings their final 5 wickets provided more than their first 5. Chris Martin looks like he is well in form. Pity for him that it is the only test in the series.

Friday 27 January 2012

Mini-session analysis for 2nd Test Pak Eng 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the 2nd test between Pakistan and England in Abu Dhabi. I will be updating this from time to time throughout the match. (It is not in a good timezone for me to do it regularly)

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aPakistan 41/0 off 15Pakistan
1-1bPakistan 32/2 off 16England
1-2aPakistan 47/2 off 17England
1-2bPakistan 57/0 off 17Pakistan
1-3aPakistan 27/1 off 15England
1-3bPakistan 52/2 off 14England
2-1aPakistan 1/3 off 2.4England
England 25/0 off 12
2-1bEngland 23/1 off 12Pakistan
2-2aEngland 48/0 off 13England
2-2bEngland 36/0 off 17England
2-3aEngland 42/1 off 17Pakistan
2-3bEngland 31/3 off 16.5Pakistan
3-1aEngland 53/1 off 14.1England
3-1bEngland 63/2 off 12Pakistan
3-2aEngland 4/2 off 1Pakistan
Pakistan 29/1 off 11.4
3-2bPakistan 25/2 off 15.2England
3-3aPakistan 36/1 off 18England
3-3bPakistan 35/0 off 16Pakistan
4-1aPakistan 37/1 off 18England
4-1bPakistan 36/2 off 13England
4-2aPakistan 16/3 off 7.2England
4-2bEngland 39/4 off 22Pakistan
4-3aEngland 32/4 off 13.4Pakistan
4-3bEngland 1/2 off 0.3Pakistan

Pakistan win the match, despite England winning the count 13-11.

Finally a good test match. A disappointing ending, it would have been great if England could have put together one more partnership and really taken it to the wire.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Preview - Pak Eng 2nd Test Abu Dhabi 11/12

The first test was a big surprise.

I was honestly surprised by how well Hafeez batted, and how poorly England batted.

The big question now is if it was an aberration or a forming trend. England looked horrible in the ODI matches in India, but they often look horrible in ODI matches. This is because they are an awful ODI team. But perhaps it had something to do with being in Asia.

The English overall record in Asia over the past 5 years looks respectable, about 33. However once you remove Bangladesh from that equation, their average drops to 26.68.

Over the same time Pakistan have averaged 36.

England desperately require their batsmen (who are outstanding players) to make some runs here in Abu Dhabi.

The other big issue is where the wickets will come from. Abu Dhabi has been a graveyard for bowlers. Both spin bowlers and pace bowlers have averaged just over 49 in the 2 tests there. And they haven't been bad bowlers. Steyn 4/138, Herath 3/134, Sami 0/129. It is not a bowlers friend.

The bowlers that have been the most effective here have generally been swing bowlers, so there is some light there for England, but it is a dim glow.

There are a couple of things to look for:

1. Often players perform better in milestone matches. Cook and Strauss are playing their 100th innings together as an opening partnership. They are currently the 4th most prolific partnership, roughly 300 behind Atapatu and Jayasuria, who opened up 118 times. This could be time for a big one from these two.

2. Umar Gul and bad balls getting wickets. Gull managed to pick up 3 wickets off long hops in the 2nd innings. Often bowlers that have a batsman under pressure can bowl a bad delivery and pick up a wicket with it. It will be interesting to see if his wickets are from good deliveries or from bad deliveries after a period of pressure.

3. How will Panesar go? He looked more dangerous than Swann in the warm up matches, and Swann was the pick of the English bowlers in Dubai. This could be Monty's chance to take back his mantle.

4. Jonathan Trott. He will probably be asked to do a job with the ball as well as the bat in this match. His ability to create pressure with the ball may be crucial for England.

Betting tips.

I would not recommend betting on too many options on this match. Much too unpredictable. The only one that I would recommend is going under on Strauss if he faces the first ball, and overs if he doesn't. (see last match's preview)

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Mini-session analysis for 4th Test Aus Ind 11/12

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the 4th test between Australia and India at Adelaide.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aAustralia 46/2 off 16India
1-1bAustralia 52/1 off 13Australia
1-2aAustralia 56/0 off 14Australia
1-2bAustralia 60/0 off 15Australia
1-3aAustralia 73/0 off 15Australia
1-3bAustralia 48/0 off 17Australia
2-1aAustralia 35/0 off 14Australia
2-1bAustralia 69/0 off 16Australia
2-2aAustralia 51/2 off 14India
2-2bAustralia 49/2 off 16India
2-3aAustralia 36/0 off 7Australia
India 48/2 off 11
2-3bIndia 13/0 off 10Australia
3-1aIndia 26/2 off 12.5Australia
3-1bIndia 35/1 off 17.1Australia
3-2aIndia 49/0 off 15India
3-2bIndia 54/1 off 18.4India
3-3aIndia 47/4 off 10.3Australia
3-3bAustralia 50/3 off 14India
4-1aAustralia 61/1 off 14.2Australia
4-1bAustralia 43/1 off 14.4Australia
4-2aAustralia 13/0 off 3India
India 49/1 off 12
4-2bIndia 43/1 off 12India
4-3aIndia 29/2 off 15Australia
4-3bIndia 45/2 off 17Australia
5-1aIndia 35/4 off 13.4Australia

Australia win the match, and the count 17-8

To a large degree India will be glad to see the back of this series. They have been comprehensively outplayed by Australia. Kohli had been the big positive for this tour for India. He has certainly come of age as a test batsman in this series.

Preview - Aus Ind 4th Test Adelaide 11/12

While the series is dead, this match is potentially the most interesting.

Australia are wanting to end this series on a high note. India need redemption.

There is going to be a spotlight on both wicket keepers. Haddin desperately needs a good match. At the moment it is hard to see how he is keeping his spot. He doesn't look to be in as good form with the gloves as some of the keepers in the BBL, (although there is a big difference between test and domestic t20) and also seems to be batting out of a hole.

Saha has sat on the sidelines for about 38 years (it must feel like) watching Dhoni. Now he gets his chance. He is in good form with the bat, averaging 117 in his last 4 first class matches, and that might prove to be a welcome boost for India.

The transition from Dhoni's captaincy to Sehwag's will be interesting. Adelaide is a challenging place to captain a team, with very long straight boundaries and short square ones. Sehwag's last attempt on a pitch like this was vs NZ at McLean Park in Napier. New Zealand scored 619/9d at 4 an over after being 23/3. If he gets an opening like that against Australia he needs to capitalise on it, although that is a lot easier to say from my chair than his.

History would say that Adelaide offers the best chance for India. It is a batsman's ground, with both spinners and quick bowlers averaging over 40 there in the last 10 years. It is one of 14 grounds in the world to hold that distinction. Over the last 5 years India has played 13 matches at grounds in this category. They have won 4, lost 1 and drawn 8. Australia has played 8, won 1, lost 2 and drawn 5. In the last 3 games on these surfaces between the two countries, India have won 1, and 2 have been draws.

Likewise Austraia have had mixed results at Adelaide recently. The last 4 matches have seen a win and a loss, both by an innings and 2 draws. One of the draws was against India.

Things to watch for:

1. How does Saha go? It's one thing hitting unbeaten hundreds in Indian domestic cricket. Doing it in Australia is another issue.

2. How will VVS Laxman do? This pitch is likely to suit him more than the others, but he has been in such poor form it would not be surprising if he had another poor game.

3. Shaun Marsh. In all likely-hood this match is looking like a very important one for Marsh's career. He has underperformed badly so far this series, and while he has shown us that he is capable of succeeding, he needs to prove that he is more than another Marcus North by putting together a good innings (or 2) here.

4. India's fielding and running. Australia have scored 226 more runs than India in this series. However they have only scored 34 more runs in boundaries. Australia have run better, and been better at preventing India running. Australia's activity rate is roughly 0.34 while India are at about 0.25. Part of this is because Australia have been bowling more of a 5th/6th stump line, and slightly forward of a good length as their standard delivery, where as India have bowled a slightly shorter 4th stump as their standard delivery. The fuller wider bowling makes it harder to work singles, but easier to hit boundaries. However India still have had a number of opportunities to score more by running, and have let too many easy runs in through sloppy fielding. Will the change to Sehwag make a difference? I personally doubt it.

5. Forget Tendulkar's hundred, can anyone from India make one? So far India's top scores in this series is 83. They have had the same number of batsmen get to 50 as Australia, but 4 of the Australians managed to convert to 100's. Over the last 10 years Indian batsmen have scored one away century for every 17 innings. So far this test they have had 66 innings without one. Traditionally the probability of an Indian batsman getting to 100 once they had got to 50 away from home is about 30%. So we would have expected 4 centurys given that they had been past fifty 14 times. Surely that trend will break at the benign Adelaide Oval.

Betting tips.

The last couple of matches have not been good. My overall success rate has dropped from about 1.4 (40c profit from every dollar bet) to about 1.05, so hopefully I can make it up to you all this time round.

1. Kohli top Indian batsman 1st innings - $6.50 - He looks like he is coming into form. I'd pick this as about a 25% probability, which makes these good odds.

2. Harris top Australia bowler 1st innings - $3.50 - Lillee said that Adelaide suited bowlers who bowled good cutters. Harris seemed to do this in the bits of the last match that I watched. He also bowled much better than his figures indicated.

3. Tendulkar 86 and over - player performance - $1.83 - I genuinely think he will get his hundred here.

4. Saha 71 and over - player performance - $1.83 - I'd expect him to take at least 2 catches which is 20 points. Then 51 runs in 2 innings seems getable.

5. Siddle 110 and over - player performance - $1.83 - It wouldn't be a massive surprise if he picked up 2 wickets in one innings and 3 in the other, and chipped in with 20 with the bat.

Monday 23 January 2012

Big Occasion Bates

Yesterday the (mighty) Auckland Aces were playing in their third consecutive HRV Cup final. Auckland won convincingly. During the time between their first and third final they have also played Pakistan in a tour T20 match and played 2 Champions League matches.

Throughout these 6 big occasion matches one player has really been extraordinary: left arm quick bowler Michael Bates.

Here are his results:
2009/10 HRV Cup finalCentral DistrictsLoss4-0-61-3
Tour matchPakistanWin3-0-11-4
2010/11 HRV Cup FinalCentral DistrictsWin4-1-18-4
2011 Champions League T20Kolkata Knight RidersLoss4-0-13-1
2011 Champions League T20SomersetLoss4-1-13-2
2011/12 HRV Cup FinalCanterburyWin3-0-18-3
Overall 22-2-134-17

This gives him an average of 7.88, an economy rate of 6.09 and a strike rate of 7.64. If we just look at the last 2 years, removing the first final at the postage stamp sized Pukekura Park, his figures become 18-2-73-14. That is a breath-takingly low economy rate of 4.06, average of 5.2 and strike rate of 7.71.

How good are those numbers? Here are some comparisons: The best averaging bowler in the world is Krishmar Santoki from Jamaica who averages 8.56; the best economy rate is Samuel Badree from Trinidad and Tobago who's economy rate is 4.43; the best strike rate is also Santoki at 9.3. Bates's figures in the last 5 finals are better than all of these. Now it is true that 5 matches is a small sample size, but the results are still outstanding.

Given these numbers it is staggering that he hasn't been picked up by an overseas team of some variety. He hasn't even been picked for New Zealand A.

Now sometimes a bowler can get good figures by getting bad batsmen out. Not the case with Bates, here is the list of his dismissals:
Ross Taylor*
Kieran Noema-Barnett
Jacob Oram*
Mohammad Hafeez*
Shahid Afridi*
Ahmed Shezad*
Wahab Riaz
Peter Ingram*
Jamie How*
Ian Blackwell*
Doug Bracewell
Manvinder Bisla
Peter Trego
Nick Compton
Rob Nichol*
Andrew Ellis
Reece Young*
* - has batted in the top 6 in International Cricket

In his other T20 matches, when the stage is not so big, he has preformed reasonably well, but not nearly as well as he has on the big stage. Here are his stats excluding these matches: 86.5-1-755-25 Average 30.2, Economy Rate 8.73, Strike Rate 20.76.

Teams need consistent performers. But they also need players that can step up on the big occasions. So far Michael Bates has proved that he can do just that.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Running between wickets

I have long been a believer that running between wickets is the most important thing in a limited overs cricket match.

More important than catching. More important than bowling, more important than hitting boundaries.

It is difficult to quantify this, but the focus on it has meant that when I look at statistics I look at them slightly differently sometimes.

One of the main things that I look at when assessing a batsman is their activity rate. This is the number of run runs (ie runs that did not come from boundaries) divided by the deliveries that they did not hit to the fence.

This statistic is a good guide to the form of a batsman. The ability to accumulate runs without really taking risks is really the sign of a classy batsman.

But I wanted to look at who was the best between wickets. This has in part been due to watching Azhar Mahmood playing for the Auckland Aces. He has batted very well, but his running between wickets (and fielding) has been awful. He scored a brilliant hundred against Canterbury, but there were about 6 or 7 times that he wasn't quick enough to get back for a second, and so the team missed out on a number of runs. (He also let in about 6 or 7 runs in the field).

He has been out run-out in about half of his innings in the HRV Cup, which got me thinking about accounting for a batsman's propensity to get run out when I'm assessing how good they are between wickets. It would be better again to check how often there is a run out when they are batting, because a bad call that runs your partner out is as bad as a bad call that runs yourself out. However that data is very hard to get, and so I have to use what I do have.

So I decided to work out a metric for running between wickets. I started with looking at who scored the most run runs per dismissal in ODI's (ignoring how they were out). A couple of the results were quite surprising:

(all figures here are over the last 5 years, in ODI cricket. I have only looked at batsmen who have faced more than 1000 deliveries in that time period)

Run runs per dismissal
NameMatchesRunsRun runsRun runs per dismissal
RN ten Doeschate (Neth) 27128275041.67
S Chanderpaul (WI) 632549165338.44
IJL Trott (Eng) 401798122234.91
TLW Cooper (Neth) 1886454033.75
MS Dhoni (Asia/India) 1374762289033.22
HM Amla (SA) 542705155532.40
JH Kallis (SA) 773154190431.21
MJ Clarke (Aus) 1123871253730.20
MEK Hussey (Aus) 1153408227429.92
JP Duminy (SA) 772273155729.38

I had to look up Tom Cooper, as I really knew very little about him. It will be interesting to see if he can keep that up as the Netherlands start to play more matches. From a quick look there are a lot of players that learned to play their cricket in the Southern Hemisphere, Dhoni and Chanderpaul being the exceptions.

Next I looked at the activity rates:

Activity Rates
NameRun runsNon-boundary ballsActivity rate
Shahid Afridi (Pak) 85712540.683
JP Duminy (SA) 155725200.618
MEK Hussey (Aus) 227436990.615
DL Vettori (NZ) 5699280.613
JR Hopes (Aus) 73011940.611
HM Amla (SA) 155526650.583
DJ Hussey (Aus) 5629670.581
MV Boucher (Afr/SA) 63611060.575
IJL Trott (Eng) 122221470.569
AB de Villiers (Afr/SA) 215638020.567

The name at the top of the list here was a big surprise. When you think of Shahid Afridi, running between wickets is certainly not one of the things that you think of. However he has scored extremely quickly from run runs. Looking at different time periods and in different forms of the game another couple of names that occur regularly are Prior, Pollard and Dilshan. All three are thought of more as big hitters, but are also very effective at turning over the scoreboard. (Although this may be partially due to opposition captains being happy to conceded a single to them.)

The next thing that I looked at was the runs per run out. There were a number of batsmen who were not run out once, so I couldn't provide an average. In the interest of comparison, I have counted them as having been run out once for the sake of the average.

Run runs per run out.
NameMatchesRun runsRun outsRun runs per ro
AB de Villiers (Afr/SA) 97215602156
Yuvraj Singh (Asia/India) 115168901689
WU Tharanga (Asia/SL) 95147701477
Mohammad Yousuf (Asia/Pak) 60133201332
IJL Trott (Eng) 40122211222
EJG Morgan (Eng/Ire) 70114201142
V Sehwag (Asia/India) 77106701067
E Chigumbura (Afr/Zim) 909280928
S Chanderpaul (WI) 6316532826.5
AD Mathews (SL) 627991799

There are a number of batsmen who have been very careful between the wickets. However I think it is probably stretching the truth a little to suggest that Yuvraj Singh is one of the best between the wickets in the world.

So I combined these results using a variety of formulations until I found one that seemed to give the right results. (I can provide it if anyone is interested, it basically multiplies the activity rate by a modified run runs per dismissals, giving a higher weight to run out dismissals). Here were the best runners using my scoring system:

NameMatchesAverageActivity rateScore
IJL Trott (Eng) 4051.370.56922.82
AB de Villiers (Afr/SA) 9752.460.56722.79
RN ten Doeschate (Neth) 2771.220.54222.41
Mohammad Yousuf (Asia/Pak) 6043.10.53720.94
S Chanderpaul (WI) 6359.270.49219.64
JP Duminy (SA) 7742.880.61817.94
A Symonds (Aus) 4144.30.54917.93
MEK Hussey (Aus) 11544.840.61517.46
MS Dhoni (Asia/India) 13754.730.56216.72
Misbah-ul-Haq (Pak) 7744.260.52916.28

So the top of the pile is Trott, de Villiers and ten Doeschate.

An extra statistic that I found interesting was who relied on run runs the most and the least. This is a list of the run run percentages for batsman, ie for every 100 runs they score, how many are not in boundaries. The two surprises there are how high Kandamby is (I've only seen him bat twice, and both times he seemed only interested in finding the rope) and how low Herschelle Gibbs is. Gibbs is so quick between the wickets it is unusual that he scores such a low percentage by running.

NameMatchesRunsRun runsRunning %
GD Elliott (NZ) 3771650069.8
JP Duminy (SA) 772273155768.5
P Utseya (Zim) 8284957968.2
IJL Trott (Eng) 401798122268.0
AR White (Ire) 5165544567.9
SHT Kandamby (SL) 3484757167.4
MEK Hussey (Aus) 1153408227466.7
HH Gibbs (SA) 54175272841.6
JD Ryder (NZ) 37109445241.3
AC Gilchrist (Aus) 37112745740.6
PR Stirling (Ire) 34134954140.1
ST Jayasuriya (Asia/SL) 70198875638.0
CH Gayle (WI) 73245489836.6
V Sehwag (Asia/India) 773269106732.6

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Mini-session analysis for 1st Test Pak Eng 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the 1st test between Pakistan and England in Dubai. I will be updating this from time to time throughout the match. (It is not in a good timezone for me to do it regularly)

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aEngland 31/2 off 12.3Pakistan
1-1bEngland 21/3 off 15.3Pakistan
1-2aEngland 41/1 off 14England
1-2bEngland 45/1 off 13England
1-3aEngland 53/3 off 17.3Pakistan
1-3bPakistan 42/0 off 15Pakistan
2-1aPakistan 48/0 off 15Pakistan
2-1bPakistan 48/2 off 13England
2-2aPakistan 38/1 off 13.4England
2-2bPakistan 37/1 off 15.2England
2-3aPakistan 47/1 off 19Pakistan
2-3bPakistan 38/2 off 13.3England
3-1aPakistan 46/2 off 14.3England
3-1bPakistan 4/1 off 0.5Pakistan
England 16/1 off 8
3-2aEngland 19/3 off 12.1Pakistan
3-2bEngland 40/1 off 15England
3-3aEngland 51/2 off 15Pakistan
3-3bEngland 34/3 off 7.5Pakistan
Pakistan 15/0 off 3.4

Pakistan win the mini-session count 10-8. Surprisingly close for such a one-sided match. The bowling side won 12 of the 18 mini-sessions, which probably explains in part how the game was over inside 3 days. Pakistan's first innings was the only first innings total in the last 5 years under 350 to set up a 10 wicket victory.

There is probably much wringing of hands going on in England at the moment, but I still feel that these are two freak results. Here are how the first 5 wickets happened in each England innings:
Cook edged a short ball from Hafeez (bad delivery - unlucky wicket)
Trott got strangled down the leg-side off Aizaz Cheema (bad delivery - unlucky wicket)
Strauss was beaten in flight, tried to pull a full straight one (good delivery - bad shot)
Bell doesn't pick a doosra and gets an edge behind (good delivery - credit to bowler)
Pietersen played down the wrong line to a straight one (reasonable delivery - bad shot)
Strauss strangled down the leg side. Quite possibly didn't hit it (bad ball - unlucky dismissal)
Cook strangled down the leg side (bad ball - unlucky dismissal)
Pietersen top edged a pull shot to a good short ball (good delivery - bad shot)
Bell completely misread a good delivery (good delivery - credit to the bowler)
Morgan gets beaten by a good ball and edges behind (good delivery - credit to the bowler)
I will be surprised if there are so many unlucky dismissals in such a short space of time in the 2nd match. It is always possible, that is part of what makes cricket interesting. A wide half volley sometimes results in a wicket when a searing inswinging yorker on middle stump is sometimes defended (and occasionally gets hit to the fence for 4 - as Lara did to Danny Morrison first ball of a marvelous hundred).

The England will need to work on getting their feet moving more effectively to the spinners, and perhaps waiting until they have their eyes in before playing across the line; but they are seriously good players, and I expect them to come back from this. This match has a similar feel to the 2nd test between South Africa and Sri Lanka. The third test in that series should give England some hope.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Preview - Pak Eng 1st Test Dubai 11/12

The two top performing sides from last year meet in a mouthwatering match up.

The attacking England vs the conservative Pakistan. It seems like a role reversal from recent years.

England have an interesting choice. I feel it's between Eion Morgan and Monty Panesar. Prior, Broad and Swann are a fantastic 7,8,9 but they would actually still be a very good 6,7,8. Having the extra bowler to spread the load, and particularly having an extra spin bolwer (and one who is in form) is not a bad look. However England got a lot of bowling out of Pietersen and Trott last year, and they might be keen on relying on them again, and keeping their line up as similar as possible.

Pakistan are likely to go into the match with 3 front line spinners, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammed Hafeez and Abdur Rehman. This will be interesting, as it will provide a good examination for England's batsmen new found confidence against spin. They have been improving solidly over the last few years against spin, but the conditions in Dubai might provide a point of difference.

England vs spin last 4 years:

It is hard to see where the wickets are going to come from, other than patience. In the last couple of years that matches have been played in UAE, only Junaid Khan has averaged under 30 with a strike rate under 60. (Welegedara got close). There are likely to be some big scores, particularly from the patient batsmen like Misbah-ul-Haq and Alister Cook.

Things to watch for:

1. Mohammed Hafeez. He has bowled like a genius recently. He doesn't have all the tricks like Saeed Ajmal, he just bowls really well. However his batting has slipped. Will he continue on his Dipak Patelesque journey from batsman who bowls a bit to bowler who bats a bit, or will he step up with the bat too?

2. Swann vs Ajmal. Two very different spinners, both capable of doing a lot of damage with the ball. Who will come out on top?

3. Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul. When they are on, both can be devastating bowlers. The Emerati air is not likely to help with the swing too much, but any assistance that is offered they will be sure to take advantage of.

4. Who faces the first ball for England? When he's been captain, Strauss has averaged 23 less when he faces the first ball than when he doesn't. It possibly takes him a while to switch out of the more macro captain thinking into the more micro opener thinking.

Betting tips:

1. Top England batsman - Jonathan Trott $4.50. He averages 85 in the first match of a series. He likes to lay down a marker. He also averages 67 against Pakistan. Probably about a 30% probability.

2. Top Pakistan batsman - Younis Khan. $4.50, Misbah-ul-Haq $5.50. I'm actually going to take both here because I think that one of these two will be the top scorer. The conditions are likely to suit Misbah, but Younis has not averaged under 50 for a year since 2004, and he often does well in the first two games of a series. My split will be 20 on Misbah and 25 on Younis. It will return slightly more on Younis Khan, because I think he is slightly more likely to be top scorer.

3. Younis Khan to outscore Maohammad Hafeez $1.83. Seems easy money to me. Hafeez scored 143 against Bangladesh, but that is a slightly different prospect to playing Anderson, Broad and Tremlett with the new ball.

4. Pakistan not to win. $1.22. I see a draw as the most likely outcome here, but I can't see Pakistan getting England out cheaply twice.

Monday 16 January 2012

Mini-session analysis for 3rd Test Aus Ind 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the 3rd test between India and Australia in Perth.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aIndia 32/2 off 13.5Australia
1-1bIndia 41/2 off 14.1Australia
1-2aIndia 26/0 off 14Australia
1-2bIndia 55/2 off 13India
1-3aIndia 17/4 off 5.2Australia
Australia 94/0 off 13
1-3bAustralia 55/0 off 10Australia
2-1aAustralia 50/0 off 13Australia
2-1bAustralia 45/3 off 11India
2-2a*Australia 47/3 off 11.1India
2-2bAustralia 66/4 off 16.1India
2-3aIndia 56/4 off 22Australia
2-3bIndia 32/0 off 10India
3-1aIndia 41/0 off 12India
3-1bIndia 36/2 off 12Australia
3-2aIndia 6/4 off 3.2Australia

*There was no official drinks break recorded in the 2nd session of day 2, so I assumed they took drinks at the fall of Haddin's wicket, roughly half way through the session.

Australia win the count 9-6.

This game was won and lost in the last 2 mini-sessions of the first day, and the one after tea on day 2. The partnership of Warner and Cowan, and the loss of 4 for 56 off the first 22 overs of India's second innings.

I desperately hope India put up more of a fight in Adelaide. They have not taken advantage of the key moments in any of these matches so far.

Friday 13 January 2012

Preview - Aus Ind 3rd Test Perth 11/12


Possibly the ground with the most intense legend surrounding it.

The bouncy track. The ball whistling past the batsman's ears. The Fremantle Doctor.

One part fact, one part fiction.

There was a time where the WACA was the fastest, bounciest and scariest pitch in the world. That title is long gone. The WACA is now a great place to be a batsman. Even the 10th wicket has an average partnership of 16 in the last 5 years. And yet every match in the last 5 years has provided a result. The runs come quickly, but so do the wickets.

There are a couple of things I am looking for in this match.

1. The team that bats first normally wins. There is a small sample size, but teams are advised to bat first. This has been a good ground for openers, and if they can survive the opening hour or so they can really pile on the runs.

2. How will Michael Clarke go? I took a sample of 300's (I didn't have time to look at them all) and looked at the next innings for each batsman. The median score was 31. Will Clarke fall below this, or will he back up with another big score. Hes scored 251 in his last 4 matches at this ground, which is not bad, but also not setting the world on fire.

3. Zaheer Khan. The most effective bowlers at the WACA recently have been left arm swing bowlers. India have an outstanding exponent of this art. He will need support, but he could be very dangerous, particularly in the second innings.

4. How will the spinners go? This ground has not been friendly for spinners, and it will be interesting to see how Lyon and Ashwin go. Both players are in doubt for the match, and it will be interesting to see if they make the line-ups and if so, how they will go.

Betting tips.

1. Player Performance Michael Clarke under 100 $1.83. I would expect the probability of him getting under 100 to be about 0.7

2. Player Performance Sachin Tendulkar 85 & over $1.83. He is hardly ever scoring under 40 at the moment. His attacking style is suited to this ground.

3. Top India bowler Zaheer Khan $3. This seems too good to be true. I was expecting Khan to be at about $2.20

4. India to win (draw no bet) $2.75. This game may end up a draw, but if not, this could be India's chance to strike back.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Preview - SA SL 1st ODI Paarl 11/12

This is a bit of the battle of the unknowns here.

There have only been a handful of matches at Paarl. There have only been two matches between South Africa and Sri Lanka in the last 5 years. Both teams are somewhat unpredictable, and Sri Lanka are likely to have a vastly different line up to the test matches.

So it is hard to make too many predictions really.

However there are a couple of things to look for.

1. Dilshan hit 58 and 106 in his last two innings against South Africa. He is under some scrutiny as captain and needs a score. Will this be his time?

2. De Villiers is likely to bat at 4, keep wickets and captain his team. Dhoni and Sangakkara both proved that it is possible to succeed while keeping, captaining and batting in the top 5, but Gilchrist, Germon, Taibu and Flower all struggled with the excessive workload. De Villiers is certainly a talented batsman, but so were Gilchrist and Flower. It will be interesting to see if he can hold it all together.

3. Ajantha Mendis is likely to make a return. He's only bowled 7 overs against South Africa in any form of cricket, but he took 3 for 30 in those 7 overs, picking up Smith, Kallis and Duminy. If he can repeat this then Sri Lanka are in with a big show.

4. Lasith Malinga is playing his 100th ODI match. He has played 4 ODI matches against South Africa and taken 10 wickets, roughly one wicket every 3 overs. He is always an interesting bowler to watch, and it will be good to see how he goes in this match.

5. JP Duminy looking to get on the board. Duminy's last 4 ODI innings against Sri Lanka have been 3(3), 0(2), 0(1) & 0(1). He has faced 7 deliveries scored 3 runs and been out 4 times. However his last outing at Paarl was him guiding the Cape Cobras to a win with 52* at the end of a match, so he may be in a good space to turn that round.

Some betting tips.

In the three matches that have been played at Paarl between big teams, there have been 2 century opening partnerships and one 50 opening partnership. The 2nd wicket has been even more productive. If you are looking to be over on any batsman, make sure they are in the top three. Likewise don't think the game is over just because one team has a good start. Most teams get off to a good start at this ground.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Adding value with the ball

A while ago Nicholas Rohde wrote a series of articles that got some people upset. He used an economic model to look at which batsmen had made the greatest contribution.

His basic method was to compare the runs they had scored to the runs that an average batsman would have scored finding the added value that they provided their team.

I read through his article and was impressed with his approach despite feeling there are some issues in the way that he interpreted his results. He did not take in account the extra frequency of matches in the modern era when suggesting that a current selector should pick a young Tendulkar over a young Bradman. Bradman should be judged on his opportunities, not on someone elses (Bradman played in 87% of Australia's matches during his career, only just behind Tendulkar's 92%). However the background theory is actually quite intuitive and also provides some very interesting results.

I took his idea and applied it to test bowling. My method was probably not identical to his, but what I did was break down each year to find out how many runs bowlers had conceded and how many wickets had been taken in that year. For each bowler I then found the total runs and wickets in the years that they played, to give a value for what the average bowler would have done. There are some issues with this method for figuring out added value, but I feel that it gives a better guide than any other practical method I can think of.

Here is an example of how it works:

Shabir Ahmed played 10 tests between 2003 and 2005 for Pakistan. He took 51 wickets for 1175 runs. In 2003 there were 1305 wickets taken for 47145 runs. 2004 had 1555 wickets for 54916 runs and 2005 had 1508 wickets for 50377 runs. The total runs per wicket for those three years was roughly 34.9. So we multiply his wickets (51) by 34.9 to get 1780. We then subtract the runs he conceded (1175) to get his value of 605. Effectively he saved his team 605 runs more than an average player would have.

So once we add up the figures, who comes out on top?

First we'll look at the aggregates, and there are a few familiar names there.

PlayerMatchesWicketsAverageAdded Value
M Muralitharan (ICC/SL)13380022.728410
GD McGrath (Aus)12456321.646260
SK Warne (Aus)14570825.415174
CEL Ambrose (WI)9840520.994261
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ)8643122.294115
SM Pollock (SA)10842123.114105
MD Marshall (WI)8137620.944096
CA Walsh (WI)13251924.443891
Wasim Akram (Pak)10441423.623472
Imran Khan (Pak)8836222.813328
Waqar Younis (Pak)8737323.563273
AA Donald (SA)7233022.253110
DW Steyn (SA)5126323.073088
FS Trueman (Eng)6730721.572745
DK Lillee (Aus)7035523.922715
J Garner (WI)5825920.972654
RGD Willis (Eng)9032525.202071
MA Holding (WI)6024923.681939
A Kumble (India)13261929.651919
M Ntini (SA)10139028.821849
JN Gillespie (Aus)7125926.131750
SF Barnes (Eng)2718916.431749
AK Davidson (Aus)4418620.531731
JC Laker (Eng)4619321.241636
CV Grimmett (Aus)3721624.211625

We notice that the likes of Barnes and Davidson are a lot higher than they would be in a pure wickets table.

Muralitharan is miles ahead of McGrath in 2nd place. Regardless of what Bishan Singh Bedi thinks his record is formidable. Once his action was cleared he still had to put the ball in the right place, and do the right thing with it, and he did that, time after time after time.

Glenn Mcgrath jumps over Anil Kumble and Shane Warne into second spot. Both he and Shaun Pollock changed the way that bowlers thought about opening the bowling, with his metronomic accuracy and aggressive approach being incredibly valuable to his team. His economy being the difference between him and Warne on the table.

Now when we are looking for the best bowler consistency is important, but really we want to know who could be expected to do the best in the next game, so how well they do per innings is more important.

Here is the table of added value per innings. (I've limited it to bowlers who bowled more than 10 innings and took more than 25 wickets)

PlayerWicketsAverageAdded ValueAV per innings
J Cowie (NZ)4521.5364149.31
MJ Procter (SA)4115.0261543.90
H Ironmonger (Aus)7417.97103638.35
RAL Massie (Aus)3120.8740737.02
M Muralitharan (ICC/SL)80022.72841036.56
SF Barnes (Eng)18916.43174934.99
SE Bond (NZ)8722.09108733.97
RJ Harris (Aus)3521.3745932.76
DW Steyn (SA)26323.07308832.51
Shabbir Ahmed (Pak)5123.0360531.83
AE Hall (SA)4022.1543631.16
K Higgs (Eng)7120.7483330.83
BN Schultz (SA)3720.2442330.23
ERH Toshack (Aus)4721.0465228.33
GA Lohmann (Eng)11210.7599727.70
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ)43122.29411527.44
MD Marshall (WI)37620.94409627.13
WJ O'Reilly (Aus)14422.59128826.83

The name at the top is one that most readers won't know. The 1938 Wisden said this about Jack Cowie, "Had he been an Australian, he might have been termed a wonder of the age." During the 12 years that he played, New Zealand only played 9 test matches and he famously only got to bowl once to Bradman, getting him out for 11. Hutton described him as the best bowler he had faced. An example of how much better Cowie was than his contemporaries is that the rest of New Zealand bowlers averaged over 54 in the same 9 tests.

The second name is more familiar: Mike Procter was the match referee at the 2006 match where Pakistan refused to come out and field, and also was the one who banned Harbajhan Singh in Sydney 2008. He only played a small number of tests due to being from South Africa, but in his 401 match first class career he managed to keep his bowling average under 20 (as well as averaging over 36 with the bat)

The third name on the list, Dainty Ironmonger didn't make his debut until he was 45, but was very effective with his left-arm slow medium, and very ineffective with the bat (having a similar average to Chris Martin).

Murali is the first of the recent players on the list, which is a credit to him, as he kept that up for a very long time. Steyn is also remarkably high, ahead of the likes of Hadlee, Marshall and Lillee.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Where the Ponting-Clarke partnership fits in

Here are some tables that the Ponting-Clarke partnership fits into.

4th Wicket partnerships in Australia.

VVS Laxman, SR Tendulkar (India)353v AustraliaSydney2004
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting (Aus)352v PakistanHobart2010
WM Lawry, KD Walters (Aus)336v West IndiesSydney1969
PD Collingwood, KP Pietersen (Eng)310v AustraliaAdelaide2006
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting (Aus)288v IndiaSydney2012
DS Lehmann, SR Waugh (Aus)250v BangladeshCairns2003
MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey (Aus)245v Sri LankaBrisbane2007
AL Hassett, KR Miller (Aus)235v West IndiesSydney1951

4th wicket partnership for Australia

DG Bradman, WH Ponsford388v EnglandLeeds1934
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting352v PakistanHobart2010
WM Lawry, KD Walters336v West IndiesSydney1969
JN Gillespie, MEK Hussey320v BangladeshChittagong2006
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting288v IndiaSydney2012
MEK Hussey, SE Marsh258v Sri LankaPallekele2011
CS Serjeant, GM Wood251v West IndiesGeorgetown1978
DS Lehmann, SR Waugh250v BangladeshCairns2003
MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey245v Sri LankaBrisbane2007

4th Wicket partnership vs India

MJ Clarke, RT Ponting (Aus)288Sydney2012
Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas (Pak)287Faisalabad1983
JD Ryder, LRPL Taylor (NZ)271Napier2009
GE Gomez, CL Walcott (WI)267Delhi1948
WR Hammond, TS Worthington (Eng)266The Oval1936
Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas (Pak)255Faisalabad1978
G Boycott, BL D'Oliveira (Eng)252Leeds1967
Javed Miandad, Shoaib Mohammad (Pak)246Lahore1989
HA Gomes, CH Lloyd (WI)237Port of Spain1983
IVA Richards, RB Richardson (WI)235Kingston1989

4th Wicket for Australia vs India

MJ Clarke, RT Ponting288Sydney2012
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting210Adelaide2008
AR Border, DM Jones178Chennai1986
DM Jones, TM Moody173Perth1992
RN Harvey, SJE Loxton159Melbourne1948
PJP Burge, NC O'Neill150Kolkata1960

For Australia vs India for any wicket

MJ Clarke, RT Ponting2884Sydney2012
RT Ponting, SR Waugh2395Adelaide1999
SG Barnes, DG Bradman2362Adelaide1948
ML Hayden, RT Ponting2342Melbourne2003
DG Bradman, AR Morris223*5Melbourne1948
AR Border, KJ Hughes2223Chennai1979
DC Boon, MA Taylor2212Adelaide1992

At the SCG for any wicket

SG Barnes, DG Bradman (Aus)4055v England1946
VVS Laxman, SR Tendulkar (India)3534v Australia2004
WM Lawry, KD Walters (Aus)3364v West Indies1969
BC Lara, RB Richardson (WI)2933v Australia1993
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting (Aus)2884v India2012
AL Hassett, KR Miller (Aus)2354v West Indies1951
RW Barber, G Boycott (Eng)2341v Australia1966

Rescue Partnerships (3rd wicket fell before 40)
DG Bradman, WH Ponsford (Aus)3884v EnglandLeeds1934
MJ Clarke, RT Ponting (Aus)2884v IndiaSydney2012
A Flower, MW Goodwin (Zim)277*5v PakistanBulawayo1998
JD Ryder, LRPL Taylor (NZ)2714v IndiaNapier2009
GE Gomez, CL Walcott (WI)2674v IndiaDelhi1948
CS Serjeant, GM Wood (Aus)2514v West IndiesGeorgetown1978
HA Gomes, CH Lloyd (WI)2374v IndiaPort of Spain1983
DG Bradman, AR Morris (Aus)223*5v IndiaMelbourne1948
WR Hammond, E Paynter (Eng)2224v AustraliaLord's1938
RL Dias, LRD Mendis (SL)2164v IndiaKandy1985
HG Deane, HW Taylor (SA)2144v EnglandThe Oval1929
IR Redpath, KD Walters (Aus)2104v West IndiesSydney1969
DL Amiss, AW Greig (Eng)2105v New ZealandNottingham1973
Abdul Razzaq, Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pak)2066v West IndiesGeorgetown2000

Mini-session analysis for 3rd Test SA SL 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the 3rd test between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Newlands, Cape Town.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aSouth Africa 56/2 off 13South Africa
1-1bSouth Africa 79/0 off 14South Africa
1-2aSouth Africa 47/0 off 13South Africa
1-2bSouth Africa 53/0 off 14South Africa
1-3aSouth Africa 55/1 off 20Sri Lanka
1-3bSouth Africa 56/0 off 16South Africa
2-1aSouth Africa 67/0 off 14South Africa
2-1bSouth Africa 39/1 off 14.3Sri Lanka
2-2aSouth Africa 96/0 off 17.3South Africa
2-2bSouth Africa 31/0 off 3South Africa
Sri Lanka 29/0 off 8
2-3aSri Lanka 68/1 off 14Sri Lanka
2-3bSri Lanka 52/1 off 17Sri Lanka
3-1aSri Lanka 43/1 off 15South Africa
3-1bSri Lanka 37/4 in 12.5South Africa
3-2aSri Lanka 50/4 off 16South Africa
3-2bSri Lanka 12/0 off 10South Africa
3-3aSri Lanka 41/2 off 15.4South Africa
3-3bSri Lanka 55/1 off 18.2Sri Lanka
4-1aSri Lanka 53/0 off 14Sri Lanka
4-1bSri Lanka 29/0 off 15South Africa
4-2aSri Lanka 42/2 off 12South Africa
4-2bSri Lanka 80/4 off 13.5South Africa
4-3aSouth Africa 2/0 off 0South Africa

South Africa win 16-6.

I've not been doing these mini-session analysis very long, but this one was the most one-sided. And yet Sri Lanka still managed to win 6 mini-sessions, effectively a whole day's cricket. If I can be bothered keeping these up, it will be interesting to see how a year end analysis of them compares to the test rankings.

This was also the first time we've seen Philander in unhelpful conditions. He still looked very good. His averages for this game were more realistic, but his career average is still in the ridiculous Lohmann, Barnes and Ironmonger territory.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Preview - SA SL 3rd Test Cape Town

Only South Africa would drop a bowler after he took a 7 wicket bag on debut. And not get criticized for it. South Africa have dropped de Lange for a fit-again Philander. And who wouldn't.

The combination of the aggressive Morkel, the relentless Steyn and the slipery Philander looks like their best one, and, (potentially) the best in world cricket.

Sri Lanka are a team that are very hard to pin down. They looked like world-beaters, then went on and lost a number of tests, and looked like the Ellerslie 2nd XI would give them a good run for their money. Then they came back and beat South Africa.

However they really won the game in one hour of brilliance from Welegedara and Herath. The rest of the game was really quite even.

Reasons Sri Lanka might be confident:

Sangakkara has found some form. - I believe Sangakkara has been the best batsman in the world over the past 2 or 3 years, but he had had a run of outs that even Chris Martin would be disappointed in. That was until his outstanding 108 in the second innings at Kingsmead. If he starts scoring well - then Sri Lanka are a different team. In the matches where he hits a 50 Sri Lanka win 2.33 times more than they lose. In the matches where he doesn't they lose more than they win, with a w/l ratio of 0.75

Newlands offers something for the spinners. - With Herath in good form, being at Newlands could be the best thing for Sri Lanka. At Newlands roughly 7 wickets per match fall to spin, as opposed to about 5 per match in the rest of South Africa. This will get Herath smiling.

Reasons South Africa might be confident

The game is at Newlands. - Only Australia has beaten South Africa at Newlands since the reintroduction. It has been a fortress for them. There are only 5 grounds in the world where the home team has a better record in the last 20 years than South Africa do at Newlands.

Philander is back. - In test cricket so far he's bowled about 85 overs and taken 24 wickets. That's one every 3 and a bit overs. To put that in context it's more than twice as frequent as Waqar Younis. It's even ahead of George Lohmann.

Kallis is due. He has had a poor season both with the bat and the ball, averaging 14 with the bat and 232 with the ball. It is his worst ever season with the ball and 2nd worst with the bat. But he is such a classy player that this can not continue. He must find some runs soon, and perhaps this is the time.

Betting tips

1. South Africa to win. - $1.44 seems easy money.
2. Samaraweera to top score in 1st innings. - $5.50 He's likely to do it about 1 in 4 at the moment, so $5.50 is good money.

(Picture courtesy Vaughan Leiberum)

Mini-session analysis for 2nd Test Aus Ind 11/12

Here is the mini-session analysis for the 2nd test between India and Australia.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aIndia 44/2 off 13Australia
1-1bIndia 28/2 off 13Australia
1-2aIndia 52/2 off 14.5Australia
1-2bIndia 54/2 off 13.4India
1-3aIndia 13/2 off 5India
Australia 54/3 off 13
1-3bAustralia 62/0 off 13Australia
2-1aAustralia 48/0 off 13Australia
2-1bAustralia 82/0 off 14Australia
2-2aAustralia 56/0 off 16Australia
2-2bAustralia 57/1 off 18Australia
2-3aAustralia 67/0 off 13Australia
2-3bAustralia 66/0 off 16Australia
3-1aAustralia 37/0 off 16India
3-1bAustralia 64/0 off 16Australia
3-2aAustralia 76/0 off 15Australia
3-2bIndia 53/1 off 12India
3-3aIndia 46/0 off 14India
3-3bIndia 16/1 off 15Australia
4-1aIndia 79/1 off 13India
4-1bIndia 50/0 off 15India
4-2aIndia 43/3 off 16Australia
4-2bIndia 65/2 off 12Australia*
4-3aIndia 49/2 off 13.5Australia

Australia win the count 16-7. Normally the mini-session just before tea would have been awarded to India, but realistically Australia were closer to victory after the mini-session than before it.

This game was effectively over halfway through day 1. The early disintegration of the Indian batsmen left the game beyond India's grasp.

Monday 2 January 2012

Preview - Aus Ind 2nd Test Sydney 11/12

After the fairly comprehensive ending to the first test it is easy to forget that the game was neck and neck at the start of what turned out to be the final day.

Australia will go into this test as favourites again, but looking at the weather forecast I think that this could be a damp squib instead. With rain forecast for each of the last 3 days, $3.75 on a draw looks like very good odds.

If there is play it is likely to be interrupted play, which plays into the hands of swing bowlers. I like the look of Ben Hilfenhaus at $3.50 to be Australia's top bowler.

The curator has said that he feels this pitch is like the '50s and '60s pitches, where bowlers like Joe Partridge and Alan Davidson took truckloads of wickets by bowling full and allowing the ball to swing. Often they were backed up by a fast bowler at the other end, keeping the batsmen on the back foot. As a result the Yadav-Khan partnership could be worth watching. In some ways It could be a case of the better Yadav bowls in this test, the more wickets will fall at the other end.

Dravid is possibly going to be the key for India. On tricky pitches he has been outstanding, scoring 50 or more in 6 of the last 14 times that India have been bowled out for 300 or less. He goes well when India's backs are against the wall. (forgive the pun).

However the SCG has traditionally favoured batsmen who go for their shots. Keith Miller averaged in the 60's there, and Doug Walters, averaged over 100 at the start of his career when he was still playing shots willy-nilly. Sobers also loved the ground. Given that record it will be interesting to see how Warner and Sehwag fare here. Their attacking instincts may hold them in good stead.

No statistical analysis of this game could be complete without mentioning one important number. 221.33. Sachin Tendalkur's average at the SCG. It is the second highest average by one player at one ground Falling between Miandad's 330.5 at Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad and the Don's 192.6 at Heddingly in Leeds. (min. 4 matches played). However those runs were scored on the lower, dryer, spinnier SCG of the last 20 years, rather than the traditional green, bouncy one.

Another thing to look for is Ashwin in the first innings. He looks to me like he could become a great first innings spinner, ala Daniel Vettori. He manages to get under the bat, and bowls fuller than most spin bowlers in the longer form.

Key bets

1. Draw, $3.75 - possibly only going to be a 3 day test
2. Dravid to run scorer for India, $5 - likely to be tricky conditions, his specialty.
3. Zaheer Khan top Indian bowler, $3.25 - swing is his friend.
4. Hilfenhaus top Australian bowler, $3.50 - swing + interruptions.
5. Ponting to score more than Clarke, $1.80 - Ponting averages 64 in Sydney, while Clarke averages 28.

Sunday 1 January 2012


Today is the first birthday of CricketGeek.

I hope some of you have the journey so far as much as I have.