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.

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