Friday 3 May 2013

Concentration vs Technique revisited

Ed Cowan, often uprooted after getting in.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article looking at players who capitalised on getting a start, and at players who struggled to do so.

With the gap between test matches at the moment, it's a good time to look at the numbers again.

I looked at all players who had faced at least 250 balls in 20 or more innings in last 3 years. I also restricted it to players who had at least 7 innings of less than 20 and at least 7 innings of 20 or more in that time.

For the average from 20, I subtracted 20 from their average in innings with a total score of 20+.

Here are the players who have the biggest positive difference between their average from 0 and their average from 20.

NameInnings 20+Innings under 20AverageAverage 20+Difference
MS Wade (Aus) 71534.6196.2561.64
MG Johnson (Aus) 82317.8556.4038.55
CA Pujara (India) 121065.55101.8836.33
IR Bell (Eng) 282056.1584.3128.16
AN Cook (Eng) 322955.5982.2026.61
KC Sangakkara (SL) 322162.4884.4822.00
JH Kallis (SA) 261763.4784.6121.14
SCJ Broad (Eng) 122424.3645.0020.64
MJ Prior (Eng) 292150.8270.5219.70
MJ Clarke (Aus) 322553.7073.2719.57
M Vijay (India) 91140.2558.7718.52
KP Pietersen (Eng) 282548.5066.8018.30
RT Ponting (Aus) 202434.5252.2717.75
HMRKB Herath (SL) 102917.8535.0017.15

The two names at the top of this list were fascinating. I had no idea that those two had been so good at capitalising on a start. It suggests that early wickets down the order will be very important for England in the upcoming Ashes series.

The other end of the table is the players who have a tendency to throw away their wickets after getting a start.

NameInnings 20+Innings under 20AverageAverage 20+Difference
AN Petersen (SA) 291237.6428.17-9.47
EJM Cowan (Aus) 191132.927.78-5.12
AB de Villiers (SA) 34970.3466.00-4.34
GP Swann (Eng) 152219.1515.53-3.62
SR Watson (Aus) 271732.4829.50-2.98
DG Brownlie (NZ) 13832.829.91-2.89
HAPW Jayawardene (SL) 171530.5728.00-2.57
G Gambhir (India) 231830.5728.21-2.36
AJ Strauss (Eng) 291934.0632.67-1.39
Tamim Iqbal (Ban) 13937.8637.07-0.79
GC Smith (SA) 301744.444.07-0.33
AB Barath (WI) 111321.5821.900.32
V Kohli (India) 191241.9642.940.98
CS Baugh (WI) 91717.2518.251.00

It's surprising to see two openers at the top of this list. These two do the hard work regularly, both getting to 20 roughly twice as often as they don't, but then they don't make the most of it. In fact it was a tweet from Gary Naylor from 99.94 that made me think about redoing this analysis, as Cowan's record is quite remarkable.

It made me wonder where these two sat overall among openers. Using the same conditions, I compiled this list, looking only at innings where a batsman was opening the batting:

NameInnings 20+Innings under 20AverageAverage 20+Difference
AN Petersen (SA) 311138.3628.96-9.40
CM Spearman (NZ) 171223.9616.70-7.26
RW Barber (Eng) 221138.6231.54-7.08
BM Laird (Aus) 261435.2829.76-5.52
H Sutcliffe (Eng) 651861.1055.82-5.28
A Turner (Aus) 171029.5324.25-5.28
CJ Barnett (Eng) 14739.6534.53-5.12
BK Kunderan (India) 13841.1536.15-5.00
UC Hathurusingha (SL) 251730.7326.12-4.61
Imran Farhat (Pak) 453131.8527.25-4.60
GS Camacho (WI) 12930.3325.75-4.58
B Wood (Eng) 101121.6117.50-4.11
EJM Cowan (Aus) 181133.2029.11-4.09
RB Simpson (Aus) 521855.5152.00-3.51
JB Hobbs (Eng) 702756.3752.98-3.39
Imrul Kayes (Ban) 122017.1513.91-3.24
SM Katich (Aus) 421950.4847.46-3.02
IR Redpath (Aus) 401944.5041.57-2.93

Both batsman make this list, with Alviro Petersen again clear at the top. Interesting to note that three of the batsmen regarded as some of the greatest openers ever (Herb Sutcliffe, Jack Hobbs and Bobby Simpson) on the list.

The final batsman that I want to look at is Ross Taylor. He was near the bottom of the list last time I did this analysis, with an average of 40.21 and then 40.38 once he got to 20 (a difference of 0.17). In the past 3 years he has improved both numbers. This time he has averaged 41.79 and then 47.73 once he gets to 20 (a more respectable difference of 5.94). Perhaps he actually is the player who will disprove Martin Crowe's infamous assertion that Polynesian players didn't have the concentration required for cricket.


  1. Dave Barry (@Pappubahry on twitter) suggested a different way of calculating the average that i a little fairer on dealing with no balls. There are some differences in the numbers, and a couple of changes to the order using his method, I've put the data in here and made it editable so people can have a play with it. Please don't vandalise the sheet.

    1. Wow - it must have been late at night when I wrote that comment. Should have read "is a little fairer when dealing with not outs."

  2. Wait, when did Martin Crowe say that? And didn't he play in the same team as Murphy Su'a?

    1. Crowe said it an article in Wisden either 2002 or 2003. He then (from memory) repeated it in an interview on Radio Sport.

      Yes he played with Sua, and Sua was a very good counter-example, as was Adam Parore. Crowe actually was one of the drivers behind picking Sua over Pringle for the 1992 cricket world cup (which, in my opinion, was a significant factor in us not winning that tournament, as Pringle would have probably been much more effective against Pakistan).

    2. But Su'a didn't play at all in that World Cup did he? 12th man every time.

    3. Yes, you're right. But in the match before the semi-final, Pakistan showed that they were proficient against our medium pace. Pringle would have offered something different, whereas Su'a was more of the same.