Thursday 27 December 2012

A tale of two bowlers

I was chatting to someone yesterday, and mentioned that I thought Shaminda Eranga was the real deal. That we might be looking back and say "I saw him at the start of his career." Not long after I said that he was smacked at more than 6 an over by the Australian openers. Fortunately I had put a caveat when I was chatting. I said "but he's still not very good against left handers. He looks amazing against right handers."

He seems to get a little swing, but then seam movement away from the right handers. The small bit of swing means that the batsmen start to follow the ball with their hands, and then he takes the edge with the seam movement. He doesn't swing it enough that they play and leave, but rather just enough to draw them into the shot. (Most balls seem to only swing about 5 cm - it's the movement off the seam that makes him dangerous). However against the left handers this small swing means that if it's straight, they tend to defend it, and if it seams back, they just hit an inside edge into their pads.

So I thought I'd go through his (brief) career so far and see if my feeling is correct. Here are Shaminda Eranga's test statistics against right and left handed batsmen (prior to the Melbourne test):

HandAverageStrike RateEconomy Rate

There is a significant difference.

Of players who have bowled in at least 20 matches, the best strike rate ever is Sid Barnes, with 41.6. Next is Dale Steyn with 42.0 and the Waqar Younis with 43.4. Eranga to right handers has a better strike rate than any of these.

However the other end of the tail we see a bunch of part timers. With a strike rate in the region of 195 are the likes of Shivnarine Chanerpaul (193.3) and Geoff Howarth (204.6). Even Geoffrey Boycott had a bowling strike rate of 134.8. These are good people to be compared to if you are talking about defensive technique when batting, but not so much if you're talking about bowling.

If Eranga wants to make the most of his obvious talent, he will need to figure out how to bowl to lefties. He is a fantastic prospect for Sri Lanka, but they can't keep picking him if he's going to be two bowlers: Steyn to the right-handers but Boycott to the left handers.


  1. Just an update after the Boxing Day test:

    He took 3/40 off 81 balls against right handers.
    He took 0/62 off 83 balls against left handers.

    This means that his numbers are now:
    stat Left Right
    Avg 132.5 21.54
    S/r 36.5 236.5
    E/r 3.54 3.36

  2. Interesting analysis Michael. Yes, he is the best fast bowling prospect Sri Lanka have at the moment.

  3. Wow! That is quite a discrepancy. Just out of interest, have you done a comparison on vs lefties/vs righties for any other bowler? Maybe Steyn?

    1. Ian O'Brien asked me to do the same thing. It takes a lot of work to do it properly, and I haven't done Steyn's whole career, but I have done the last 3 years. Since Jan 2010 his numbers are:

      hand - avg - s/r - e/r
      right - 21.92 - 42.1 - 3.12
      left - 25.56 - 51.1 - 3.00

      Interestingly Steyn has a reputation as being much better against right handers, but the difference isn't nearly as pronounced anymore (only 9 balls difference) I know that Kyle Mills had a similar discrepancy at the start of his career to Eranga, and Jimmy Anderson and Chris Martin both had a significant difference the other way - they had much better numbers against lefties than right handers.

      I reckon that the thing that will determine if Eranga goes on to be a great bowler, or an average one is if he can learn how to get quality left handed batsmen out.

  4. Cheers for that!

    I thought Eranga was promising but I hadn't realised how potent he was against righties. Building on your premise about what makes him so effective against righties, all he should have to do is throw in the odd one that doesn't swing and continues across the left-hander, gets edged to slip.

    Because cricket is that simple. :P

    1. That would be the theory if he swung it more. But when he gets it to not swing it's not much different to when it does. However, if he developed an off cutter, that would be deadly.

      Because, as you say. It's all very simple. From this seat anyway. :)