Guest Post – Man In A Barrel Gives Us The Numbers

Just before this latest test match MiaB, before his metamorphosis into Shane Warne on steroids (and not his mum’s diuretics) when it comes to declarations :-), did some interesting, unsolicited analysis of batting trends for England’s key players of the past and present. I found it interesting anyway. Please note this was written before the last test, so if there are any amendments MiAB wants to make, I’m sure he’ll let you know.

I’ll let Man in a Barrel take it from here…many thanks for the time and effort sir. It’s fascinating stuff. As always, comments welcome, and be nice. Well, as nice as you can be!

A New Way….

For a while, I have been trying to think of a better way of assessing batsmen than their career average.  It has some very real disadvantages to counteract the fact that it is widely used and understood and that it does tend to winnow out who the best performers are – no one, for example, disputes that Bradman was the greatest ever and nor can anyone dispute the fact that WG Grace was much, much better than any of his contemporaries, at least when he was in his prime.  However, it does have its problems.  For example Victor Trumper has a Test average of 39.04 and yet most commentators who watched him state that he was the best of his era – 1899-1912.  His average for that period is in fact bettered by, among others, Clem Hill, Jack Hobbs, Ranjitsinhji, George Gunn, RE Foster, and Aubrey Faulkner of South Africa.  For me, though, the real problem is that it gives undue emphasis on a big innings – if you make a score such as 364 or 294, it certainly helps to boost your average although, of course, its impact is mitigated the longer your career extends.  The career average also gives little information on your value to the team at a particular point of time.  Is it better to make a lot of 50s and the occasional daddy hundred or to make a series of 30s and a lot of small hundreds?  Those questions cannot be answered by inspecting your career average because the information simply isn’t contained in that single figure.  Nor does it contain any information about the way your career is trending – are you in decline or on a rise?  To some extent, you can gauge that by common sense and watching how the career average is moving but those are fairly blunt instruments.

To overcome some of those problems, I have been investigating the use of a moving average, as widely used in the investment community to discern underlying trends in noisy data.  The question immediately arises as to how many innings should be included in the moving average.  I looked at a number of options.   An average over 30 innings seems to flatten out the data too much.  A 20 innings’ average looks about right.  Broadly it should cover 10 Test matches – essentially a year’s worth of data – and it is long enough to let a batsman move in and out of form, to show the impact of a major innings and yet not allow it to have too much effect on the new data as it arrives.  For convenience, I will call this measure the Twenty Innings Moving Average – TIMA.

To put it to the test, I put Geoff Boycott under the microscope – 8114 runs at 47.73 in 193 innings.  Obviously these are very distinguished figures especially when you consider that he played to the age of 42, in an era of uncovered pitches, no helmets for the most part and inadequate gloves – in the first part of his career he was often incapacitated by broken fingers.  If you graph it it makes for interesting viewing but I don’t think it will come out in WordPress.  So to present the results, I will use a histogram.  The moving average breaks a series of data into chunks of 20 innings, over which I calculate an average.  Each successive TIMA drops one innings from the start and adds a new innings.  This is repeated until you get to the end of Boycott’s career.  So I have calculated 174 averages.  These I have summarised into how many of these averages were between 10 and 20, 20 and 30, 30 and 40, etc.  And the results are very much as you might expect:

Boycott

10-20

0%

20-30

2%

30-40

24%

40-50

36%

50-60

18%

60-70

17%

70-80

3%

80-90

0%

I think this gives a sense of just how consistent he was.  His TIMA was below 40 for only 26% of his career.  However, if you could see the graph, you would also note that he was in decline towards the end.  His TIMA was above 40 in the Oval Test against Australia in 1981.  Then he went to India and it moved into the 30s apart from a blip up to 42 when he scored 105 in the third Test of that dismal series – does anyone remember Tavare’s 147?  The last time before this that his TIMA was below 40 was the Mumbai Test of 1980, when his figures still showed the effect of his dismal Ashes tour of 1978-79.  He ended up at 37.05, rather below his career average.

Given what I thought was a successful trial of the method, I then moved on to the current team, starting with the obvious comparison, Alastair Cook.

Boycott

Cook

10-20

0%

0%

20-30

2%

5%

30-40

24%

23%

40-50

36%

40%

50-60

18%

21%

60-70

17%

7%

70-80

3%

2%

80-90

0%

3%

A slightly higher percentage below 40 and more time averaging between 70 and 90 but pretty comparable to Boycott.  However, his early career was much more consistent.  After the Ashes tour of 2010-11 and his feats against India in 2011 the swings in his TIMA become very noticeable.  The last period of time his TIMA was above 60 was in the wake of his 263 at Abu Dhabi and only lasted until the Sharjah Test.  The last time it was above 50 was in the recent Mohali Test against India, after his last century to date.  It bears out the importance of LCL’s focus on the number of big scores he has made lately: there have not been many.  By the end of that tour his TIMA was at 41.68 and it has continued to go south.   TIMA also highlights the prolonged period when he averaged less than 40 between the 2nd innings of the Chester-Le-Street Test of 2013 and the 1st May 2015 match against West Indies when he got his first century since the 130 against New Zealand at Leeds in 2013.  After the recent Oval Test, he is hovering in the mid to low 30s.  It has dropped from 54.53 at the end of the first innings of the Mohali Test to 33.50 today, in the course of 11 innings.  The decline in comparison with his career average, which is still 46, is marked.

Turning to Joe Root:

Boycott

Cook

Root

10-20

0%

0%

0%

20-30

2%

5%

0%

30-40

24%

23%

7%

40-50

36%

40%

30%

50-60

18%

21%

35%

60-70

17%

7%

8%

70-80

3%

2%

13%

80-90

0%

3%

6%

These are impressive figures by any criterion.  The only times his TIMA was below 30 was during the 2 Ashes series of 2013.  It hit a pinnacle of 84.75 in the Lords Test against New Zealand in 2015 – after innings of 98 and 84.  More recently, since the Sharjah Test of 2015, his TIMA has bounced around between 57.39 and 43.17.  More worrying is that his overall time series shows a declining trend but that is probably because he hit such a peak so early in his career.  He is just reverting to a more “normal” level.  Another point of interest is the really low amount of time he has spent below 30.

With these 3 batsmen, the results just confirm what we know already, I suggest.  Now let’s see what we learn about the more controversial selections.  Jonny Bairstow for example:

Boycott

Cook

Root

Bairstow

10-20

0%

0%

0%

0%

20-30

2%

5%

0%

30%

30-40

24%

23%

7%

14%

40-50

36%

40%

30%

16%

50-60

18%

21%

35%

22%

60-70

17%

7%

8%

14%

70-80

3%

2%

13%

4%

80-90

0%

3%

6%

0%

The sample size is smaller – only 50 data points.  But 44% is a lot of time to spend averaging under 40.  The point of concern is that since the Dhaka Test last year, his TIMA has gone into steep decline, from 71.24 down to 41.05.  I am sure that LCL will remind us that it is 25 innings since his last century.  However, it has stayed in the 40s for his last 6 innings, against his career average of 40.86, so I believe he justifies his position.  If your TIMA is above your career average, it does suggest that you are making a real contribution.

Boycott

Cook

Root

Bairstow

Stokes

Moeen

10-20

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

20-30

2%

5%

0%

30%

14%

45%

30-40

24%

23%

7%

14%

62%

17%

40-50

36%

40%

30%

16%

24%

28%

50-60

18%

21%

35%

22%

0%

11%

60-70

17%

7%

8%

14%

0%

0%

70-80

3%

2%

13%

4%

0%

0%

80-90

0%

3%

6%

0%

0%

0%

Stokes and Moeen have quite similar records.  Stokes has 2120 runs at 34.19 from 63 innings; Moeen has 2090 runs at 34.26 from 68 innings.  But the TIMA shows a very different picture.  Stokes has been below 40 for 76% of his career and has never climbed above 50.  Moeen’s figures are, in one sense, far superior in that he has spent more time above 40 but it must also be said that he has also been in the 20s more than Stokes.  If you look at Stokes, you would expect the 258 to have a massive impact on his TIMA.  In fact it raised it from 27.15 to 35.45, so poor had his record been over the previous 20 innings.  At the time it dropped out of the TIMA computation, it dropped from 46.37 to 34, which highlights his real lack of consistency.  This happened a mere 7 innings ago and he has stayed in the mid to low 30s. In his last 20 innings, he has been in the 40s nine times, ten times in the 30s and once in the 20s, with a highpoint of 46.47 after Mumbai.  These are disappointing figures for a #6.  In comparison, Moeen’s last 20 innings have shown TIMA in the 40s and 50s, with just one blip down to 35.17 when his 155 against Sri Lanka fell out of his moving average.   But it immediately went back above 40 when he scored 146 at Chennai.   As a result of the Oval Test, his TIMA has dropped to 33.  Moeen’s TIMA has dipped below his career average and Stokes has blipped above his: perhaps the selectors have the right batting order.

And just because I am a controversialist, guess this batsman:

Boycott

Cook

Root

Bairstow

Stokes

Moeen

?

10-20

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

20-30

2%

5%

0%

30%

14%

45%

0%

30-40

24%

23%

7%

14%

62%

17%

14%

40-50

36%

40%

30%

16%

24%

28%

44%

50-60

18%

21%

35%

22%

0%

11%

37%

60-70

17%

7%

8%

14%

0%

0%

5%

70-80

3%

2%

13%

4%

0%

0%

0%

80-90

0%

3%

6%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Yes….KP

Thanks MiaB. Any excuse for a KP shot…

cropped-wp-1500506510756.jpg

 

 

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67 thoughts on “Guest Post – Man In A Barrel Gives Us The Numbers

  1. AB August 9, 2017 / 12:13 pm

    The main problem with averages are that they give such an advantage to not outs. Scoring 84* doesn’t really have any more of a positive impact on your team’s chances of winning a game than scoring 84, but its far more beneficial for your average.

    Nowadays we have WASP – assuming its accuracy, surely the best measure of any batsman or bowlers worth to their team would be the change in wasp at the beginning or end of their innings or spell? A batsman who goes in with their team having a predicted win % of 30% and leaves with a predicted win % of 80% should be allocated 50 points. A bowler who comes on with their team winning 70% of the time and finishes the game gets 30 points. etc etc.

    Like

    • Miami Dad's Six August 9, 2017 / 1:02 pm

      Surely being not out at innings end also means you were denied the possibility of scoring more runs in that innings. Say you get to 30 not out, you’ve done the hard work of getting your eye in, and are about to cash in, only to run out of partners…?

      Like

      • AB August 9, 2017 / 1:59 pm

        I don’t really see that as relevant. Cricket is a team game, not an individual game. The job of a batsman is to contribute to the team total – both through scoring runs himself, but also by helping the rest of his team-mates score runs (through measures like: running and calling well, offering astute tactical advice to his partners, scoring as quickly as possible to buy his team-mates time to play themselves in, particularly after a wicket has fallen, being willing to see off the oppositions star bowler in order to protect the rest of the line-up).

        The problem we have in cricket is that people are obsessed with stats that don’t tell the whole story. The real heroes of the team are the batsmen that sacrifice their wicket and their average trying to score quickly, or put their hand up to bowl when the opposition are smashing the ball around. These kind of things win games, but they don’t show up in the stats.

        A bloke who scores 84 every game will have the same average as a bloke who alternates between 84* and getting cleaned up for 0, but in reality, will be twice as successful and valuable a batsman.

        Like

      • thelegglance August 9, 2017 / 2:24 pm

        The last statistical analysis I read on that (and I’m sorry, I can’t remember where) calculated exactly that – that not outs lowered the overall average in comparison to how it statistically would have gone had they been able to carry on and then get out.

        Like

  2. Mark August 9, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    Well done MIAB for putting in all the hard work to come up with these statistics. Unfortunately averages can only say so much. They are a guide. I’ve always been a little suspicious of them as a last word on a players career. To continue your investment analogy it’s a bit like Chartists who only use charts to predict financial future trends, and ignore economic fundamentals. You need to look a bit wider and deeper.
    .
    Which is true of any sportsman. Blanket Averages don’t reveal the quality of the opposition, the difficulty of the pitch conditions. A particular overseas tour of problems, illness etc etc. They give a background, but not detail.

    Cook was at the height of his power in a period when the greatest team of this era, (The Aussies) had broken up after the 2007 tour. (The Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath redemption series) After that they went into the wilderness. Cooks triumph of 2010/11 occurred with probably the worst Aussie attack for 50 years. He then went to India, an ageing team of superstars on the way out. This is not Cooks fault. He is not responsible for the quality of his opponents. But you have to factor it in.

    And before the Cook lovers attack me its worth mentioning that Boycott took time out in the middle 1970s. He just happened to be unavailable for the Lillie and Thompson series of 1973 or the WI of 1976. Botham never made a 100 against the WI in a test match I believe.

    And Bradman avoided a lot of travelling to the Asian continent that would come later in history. He stood up to Harold Larwood, albeit his average dropped to a mere 50 odd. But he never was faced with the 4 man attack of the WI or indeed the concept of reverse swing.

    When looking and judging a player you have to look at more than just averages. They will give you a clue, and a background. But that is all.

    Like

    • d'Arthez August 9, 2017 / 2:08 pm

      Bradman averaged 57 in the Bodyline series. Still better than 99% of the batsmen in the game’s history, who had the advantage of not having to face Bodyline. With regards to reverse swing, we don’t really know. It did not exist as a “known concept”, but that does not necessarily mean no bowler was able to reverse swing it. They may simply not have known how to get it.

      Bear in mind of course, that the quality of wickets was not as high as they are in modern times. This is especially true for players who may have “average” figures before the onset of WW1.

      Of course there are many ifs and buts that can be made about the game in the past. The World Wars cut several careers short (if not lives), and those fortunate enough to escape (relatively) unscathed may have missed their best (or worst) years in their careers.

      But ifs and buts even apply in the present. Would Cook’s numbers in India have been that good if DRS had been employed in 2012? I think he’d been given out (on review) on at least 2 occasions in Ahmedabad (at least one of those was before he had even made 50), second innings, before he finally was gone. That could have altered the series completely, and might even have resulted in Monty having to sit out the second Test (due to an obsession with strengthening the batting). Test history might have panned out quite differently.

      I think “volatility” should also be included in the statistics. It is nice if you score a 300, but if you follow that up with 5 ducks, that makes you far less consistent than a guy who makes 21, 40, 49, 50, 60, 80 and, even though the averages are identical.

      Liked by 3 people

    • man in a barrel August 9, 2017 / 2:16 pm

      Mark, Bradman played one series asgainst the West Indies and their attack had 3 fast bowlers, Constantine, Griffith and Francis. He averaged 74.5. I think he would have found a way of scoring even against Holding, Roberts and co.

      I also had a look at Amla and Faf. Amla’s career figures are still fantastic – 8281 runs at 49 – but he is in a steep decline. There are 25 times when his TIMA was in the 30s and 17 of them are included in his last 30 innings. The others were back in 2007-08. This bears out D’Arthez’s observations about his form. His current TIMA of 39.89 is 10 runs below his career average – after the Lords test it was as low as 30.58!

      Faf has played 61 innings in a career that began in 2012: Moeen has already clocked up 70. So there is not a lot of data but his TIMA is now 46 against a career average of 43. So he is pulling his weight.

      Like

    • thelegglance August 9, 2017 / 2:27 pm

      When he faced Larwood and Voce, it was with the facility for unlimited fielders behind square leg (the whole point of Bodyline) – something he’d never have had to do against the West Indies quartet of the 70s and 80s.

      Bradman’s average is so far ahead of anyone else’s, contemporary or before or since, that I see no grounds for saying anything other than he was, and by a street, the most extraordinary batsman of all time. Had there been others at the same time averaging 75, it could be argued against. There weren’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark August 9, 2017 / 3:13 pm

        I knew if I through Bradman into the mix it would be controversial. It is not my intention to in any way trash his reputation. That is not my point. I mearly point out that other factors rather than just stats have to looked at.

        As Bradman’s average is so far advanced than any other batsman in history it is good to look deeper into his career. I am not attacking him by pointing out his average in Bodyline fell from his career high. As you say, 57 was bloody good compared to others in that series. I am Just making an observation about differnt opposition.

        While I accept he may well have played against 3 fast bowlers against a WI side it has to be said that Clive Lloyds team of the the 1970s was revolutionary in its constant ferocity. It was regarded at the time as “game changing” by many who had seen a lot of cricket before my time in the 1940s and 1950s.

        I can not prove in a cout of law that Bradman would not have averaged 99 against them. (No one can)But I can have an opinion. And I doubt it. Comparing players averages in similar time frames is I think more useful in making a comparison.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus August 9, 2017 / 3:32 pm

          So you agree with Cook that this generation is better than the old timers?😉

          Like

          • Mark August 9, 2017 / 4:04 pm

            To quote captain Mainwaring ………” I wondered who be the first to spot that.”

            Most sports judged by time and distance see times improving. People jump higher, throw further, and run faster. (Drug assisted not withstanding.) In the 1950s the average height of a division 1 goalkeeper was about 5’10. By the 1980s that had increased to about 6.00. Today it’s about 6’4. (The goals have remained the same size.) I watched some footage of rugby from only the 1980s recently and it looks like a diffent species to the players of today.

            On the other hand the quality of the kit has improved hugely. I would love to see the modern golfer play a major with the clubs and balls of 100 years ago on a course not manicured with machine cutting mowers.

            Sports science, and diet, and phycology all have improved no end, but maybe there is still a place for Keith Millers quote……”pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not.”

            Liked by 1 person

  3. stephenfh August 9, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    The career trajectory and the variation of a player’s average puts things in a different light and is not usually seen so bravo for showing it; statistically the follow-on is how much variation is there around a particular average, another data series and quite possibly too much for those who don’t do stats particularly anyway I imagine.

    If you want to show the numbers in the future in a chart you might like to try the visualizer plug-in for wordpress. It just needs the numbers in a CSV file, is free, not difficult to do and the charts come out looking something like http://bythesightscreen.com/testing-visualizer/

    Liked by 2 people

    • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 11:20 pm

      Can we do something? I think most of your readers are not stattos and a few graphs might help get my points across

      Like

  4. man in a barrel August 9, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    For fun, I did the analysis on Bradman and it is astonishing:84% of the time he was averaging over 90. In Jan 1932, he got up to 132 – yes an average of 132 over 20 innings. Only 2 instances of it being less than 70 – that was when the start of the run of 20 innings incorporated the start of his involvement in the Bodyline series. When that series disappears, his TIMA shoots back over 100.

    Volatility is something that I am strugging with. Standard deviation would seem to be the obvious candidate but take a look at these figures for the standard deviation of the TIMA:

    Boycott 11.43
    Cook 11.64
    Root 12.29
    Bairstow 14.85
    Stokes 5.34
    Moeen 9.56
    Bradman 15.71

    I am not sure what this is telling me.

    Nor does it seem useful if you just look at the innings by innings list – Bradman comes out as 86.7 and Stokes as 42.4. Boycott = 41.6

    Maybe there is a financial stat I can use. I will have a look

    Like

    • stephenfh August 9, 2017 / 5:32 pm

      Standard deviation is often (and mistakenly) taken to be measuring the average variation…the mean or average (absolute) deviation does that. I’m not sure that looking at the variation of a series of averages is really more informative than the overall variation around the one number that is the career average, the opposite seems really quite likely, although it depends on what the numbers throw up I guess.

      Good luck with the crunching.

      Like

  5. Benny August 9, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    One of the essential and intriguing elements of following cricket is the statistics. Yes, they are generally imperfect and excellent work by MIAB to try and make them more meaningful.

    As Mark says, there are so many factors unaccounted for in what we are generally given. I’ll throw in another – Sir Viv didn’t have to bat against the WI quicks, Ponting never faced McGrath and Warne and, similarly, Bradman had no chance to nudge his average up against Zimbabwe.

    Guess it’s all part of the fun and I certainly learn a lot on this blog with the gems people keep revealing.

    Like

    • d'Arthez August 9, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      Who knows. A lot of batsmen and bowlers do have a bogey team. Or a team that they don’t do that well against.

      Amla has a worse career average against Zim, than anyone else. (4 from 1 innings); the next worst is 39.75 against Sri Lanka, and against all other opposition it is a healthy 45+. Incidentally, Justin Langer’s worst opposition is also Zim (80 runs from 4 completed innings). Obviously not many players have played much against Zimbabwe in the past 15 years, so sample sizes will be small, and undoubtedly statistically insignificant.

      This also happens to bowlers. Michael Holding inexplicably averages almost 35 against New Zealand, and he was hardly an average bowler (from 7 Tests). Ambrose averaged 38 against India – do note that all his Tests against India have been played in the Caribbean (9 Tests).

      The thing that I find a bit contentious in Test history that there have been players who have died before they even could have known that they had played Test cricket.

      Like

  6. man in a barrel August 9, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    Let’s ignore Bradman. The histograms of the other players all have a vaguely normal distribution. Bradman has a skewed distribution that just keeps rising… A tima that extends from 70 to over 130. To average 130 over 20 innings implies scoring 2600 runs. Not many people have done that

    Like

  7. man in a barrel August 9, 2017 / 10:25 pm

    Yes, Bradman’s Tima did decline after 1945, although the Indian series did let him inch it up. But even in 1948 he was able to play a match winning innings of 173 not out at Headingley. Eat your heart out, Boycs

    Like

  8. man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 12:41 am

    Think about it…does TIMA give a dimension to the stats that was lacking, or not? I am getting increasingly fond of it, the more that I use it. The problem is that it is time consuming to compute. I would love to rerun Ashes 2013-14 but we all know that sacking KP was the wrong to do on the basis of stats….or was it?

    Like

    • d'Arthez August 10, 2017 / 11:34 am

      In quite a few cases, the TIMA stats are easy to describe (Cook, KP, Stokes), but a bit harder in some others (notably Ali). I am guessing this is partly due to Ali being up and down the batting order. This could also be caused by the artificial boundaries (ie. as multiples of 10) for each segment).

      It definitely adds a dimension to the stats, so it does have a real value – the problem is that it does not capture it in a single figure, and can be rather cumbersome to calculate. From the looks of it, you’re definitely onto something.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance August 10, 2017 / 11:51 am

        The trouble is, and it’s definitely not about these stats, is that context is everything, which is why over a career we probably still use average as the best overall guide (in Tests, not limited overs where the flaws are extremely apparent).

        Over the last decade we’ve added things like strike rate (for bowlers in particular) which also provide some context. But the holy grail of a single stat base that answers everything is probably impossible. I’d be absolutely sure plenty have looked.

        Like

        • AB August 10, 2017 / 11:55 am

          I don’t really like the idea of a single stat that covers everything. It seems far too reductive for what is essentially a highly nuanced, complex game. What’s wrong with having multiple stats that each accurately represent some facet of that player’s game?

          Like

          • thelegglance August 10, 2017 / 11:59 am

            Yes I’d concur. It’s only us sad cases who would be interested in looking that deeply.

            I put together some years ago my club’s entire statistical record going back to the mid nineteenth century (well, it claimed 1771, but since it was spotty and talked about notches rather than runs while giving wickets to the catcher instead of the bowler, it was a polite fiction), and most people absolutely loved that. Took about a year to put together, but average was more or less the only metric that was possible, even with the scorecards.

            Like

          • AB August 10, 2017 / 12:40 pm

            We still can’t even do strike-rate, because we don’t have a full-time scorer so the players often have to do it and generally fail to record balls against the batman.

            I find it interesting that bowlers are equally interested in total wickets, economy rate, strike rate, bowling average, but batsmen, generally only look at total runs and batting average.

            Like

          • thelegglance August 10, 2017 / 1:02 pm

            Yep, you’re right. But to be fair for the reasons you say it was never possible to see strike rate – but we’d all know the guy who batted 50 overs for 60 not out. So perhaps less a matter of lack of interest and more a matter of practicality. Bowling strike rate is much easier of course.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus August 10, 2017 / 1:05 pm

            Once batted 40 overs for 52 not out. Proud of that. The outfield was like a meadow and my partner made a ton.

            Like

          • thelegglance August 10, 2017 / 1:19 pm

            And how was the temper of number three?

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus August 10, 2017 / 1:24 pm

            He went for a duck. The other opener for 4. Great captain’s knock. Worth a hundred.

            Like

        • AB August 10, 2017 / 1:52 pm

          As I’ve said elsewhere – there are times when batting slowly and carefully is the right thing to do – the bowling is good, the pitch is dodgy, you’re trying to protect your middle order, or you’re just playing yourself in before going beserk.

          There are also times when its selfish and detrimental to the team’s cause. Every top order batsman wants to volunteer for the “anchor role” where they bat through 40 overs for 60* to boost their average whilst everyone else takes all the chances in trying to keep the score-rate going. Such a tactic rarely works – the senior partner should always take responsibility for the scoring whilst a new batsman plays himself in. To fail in this duty inevitably leads to stagnation and collapse.

          Like

          • thelegglance August 10, 2017 / 2:40 pm

            I must say I’m a touch puzzled as I don’t recognise that at all. The number of people I’ve played with who think that way is miniscule. Most just go out and play the situation. I’ve never once in my life thought of the ‘anchor’ role in advance, or had any pre ordained desire to do it, and I spent 20 years opening the batting.

            Like

          • AB August 10, 2017 / 3:58 pm

            You’re lucky! There are plenty of batsmen around who do a reasonable job of pretending to bat for the team, all the whilst really batting for themselves.

            Like

          • thelegglance August 10, 2017 / 4:03 pm

            Batting is inherently selfish. So is bowling. It’s not a normal team game, it’s an individual one in a team context. I don’t recall the rest of my team mates volunteering to come and take the bruises from the quick bowlers.

            Like

      • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 11:49 pm

        Eg it helps to support your belief belief that Amla is not as good as he once was

        Like

  9. man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 1:01 am

    Stokes…his scores range from 0 to 258

    Bradman from 0 to 334

    Boycott from 0 to 256

    Yet the stats are so very different.

    Like

  10. Andy August 10, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    MIAB – congratulations, I’ve found your TIMA assessment really interesting (and I think I even managed to follow it!!)

    it could be interesting to see what this stat shows for someone like Hick or Rampakash who were considered to have ‘failed’ (all relative and debatable), and whether this shows the inverse of Cook, Root et al and supports that they were not cutting it.

    (not suggesting you do crunch the numbers as it seems like that would take a loooong time – and not even sure if it would show anything!)

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus August 10, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      I’d think Gooch, Gower and Viv would be three fascinating examples. Feast or famine Gower, late bloomer Gooch and late decline Viv.

      Like

      • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 3:06 pm

        Gower Gooch Richards

        10-20 0% 0% 0%
        20-30 4% 4% 1%
        30-40 32% 37% 20%
        40-50 43% 38% 35%
        50-60 20% 11% 21%
        60-70 1% 4% 14%
        70-80 0% 3% 4%
        80-90 0% 3% 6%

        Fascinating figures. Gower was very consistent with only 36% of his TIMA under 40. His dips into the 20s came in Botham’s tour of the West Indies (until he clawed back some ground with his fighting 154 in the final test. I recall that Boycott described him as d’Artagnan in that innings) and in the first 2 tests of his winning Ashes series in 1985. He got going in the 3rd test. He dipped into the 30s in the 1989 Ashes and the series against India in 1990 – he was left out of the tour of West Indies in 89/90. However he came good in the Oval test with 157, and his TIMA climbed back into the 50s on the notorious Gooch Ashes series of 90/91. His final TIMA was 53.87, rather higher than his career average. I think the selectors got that one wrong!

        Gooch had that slow start. TIMA only gets into the 40s in his 36th innings – the 123 against West Indies at Lords – when Tav made his debut. He spent most of the 80s (when he wasn’t on rebel tours) hovering between 35 and 45, with a brief purple patch in the 50s after the Oval test of 1985 where he scored 196, and the following tour of West Indies. It was only in the series against India in 1990 that he really gets going with his triple century. TIMA rockets up through the 50s. The following series against Australia and West Indies were the zenith of his England career, when he gets into the 80s. After the Oval test of 1994 against South Africa a steep decline sets in. TIMA goes into the low 40s and then into the 30s during the Ashes tour of 1994/5. Final TIMA was 30.35, well below his career average. At least the selectors got this one right.

        As for IVA…the figures really do speak for themselves. Only 21% below 40. A very rapid ascent to a peak TIMA of 89.6 in the Pakistan tests of 1977, a brief resurgence to 80.78 against England in St Johns in 1981 and thereafter a long slow decline to a final TIMA of 37.22. But even so, he was above 40 for a lot of that period. His last 3 innings, against England of course, show something of a revival – like a prize fighter coming out to show the youngsters how to score runs. His 73 at Edgbaston even brought his TIMA back to 41. A declining force but not totally spent.

        Like

    • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      Hick Ramprakash Mark Butcher

      10-20 9% 25% 6%
      20-30 26% 41% 17%
      30-40 27% 19% 37%
      40-50 27% 15% 38%
      50-60 8% 0% 2%
      60-70 1% 0% 0%
      70-80 0% 0% 0%
      80-90 0% 0% 0%

      Hick had a career average of 31.32 so you expect the range between 20 and 40 to contain the bulk of his TIMA calculations.To be fair, between Feb 94 and July 96 he did put together sequences of scores that keep him in the 40 and 50s for the most part (even briefly into the 60s). After the 1996 series against Pakistan, there is a gap till South Africa in 1998 when he got a recall. This was far from successful. TIMA dropped to 38 and kept going in a broadly southwards direction. His last 30 TIMA are all below 30. I seemed to remember that he took a while to get into test cricket – that baptism of fire against Ambrose etc. and indeed his first run of 20 innings averaged 19.85. But 13 innings later it was up to 41 – the start of his golden period. However if his career had ended after the 1996 Pakistan series, his average would still only have been 36. Perhaps he was just not good enough.

      Ramprakash’s figures are awful. 66% of his TIMA are below 30. Only between November 98 in Australia and August 99 against New Zealand did he manage to get TIMA above 40. And this was because the 154 he scored in March 1998 was in the average along with a run of good scores in Australia. His TIMA ended up in the high 20s, very close to his career average of 27.32.

      Butcher took a while to get going. – 66 innings before TIMA gets into the 40s against India at Bengaluru in 2001. Then it stays mostly in the 40s, with brief diversions into the 50s and 30s until March 2004 in the West Indies. His last 14 TIMA are all in the 30s , around his career average of 34.58. He was just short of being true test class – as the table shows, 40% of the time he was running an average above 40. You really need to be there for 50%. Ramprakash managed it only 15% and Hick 36% of the time.

      Like

      • Andy August 11, 2017 / 12:26 pm

        Bravo MIAB

        Like

  11. Mark August 10, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    How many hundreds did a batsman score were in a winning match? How many in a losing match? How many hundreds were scored in the first innings, after his opponents had scored in excess of 400 in their first innings? How many hundreds were scored in the second innings? How many in a winning chase? How many to save a game? How many batsman at position 3,4,5 scored a hundred coming in with the score less than 50? How many hundreds were scored after being dropped at least once? How many games did a batsman match or better his career average?

    The connotations are limitless and then you can do exactly the same for bowlers. I’m not trying to be a smart arse, but stats form a background sketch of a player. You still have to fill in a lot of detail to judge the complete package.

    Otherwise you would get rid of selectors, and let computers select based only on averages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 6:32 pm

      @Mark, I think that using the stats could actually work better than relying on the intuition of Messrs Strauss, Whitaker and Flower or whoever the selectors are or were. There is no clear case for dropping Hick in 1996 just based on the figures – he was averaging in the 40s or high 30s and I bet his replacement did not contribute to such an extent (I think it was John Crawley) – and there was no reason to persist with him so long after his recall. 30 innings of contributing next to nothing! Clearly there was no case for dropping Gower on stat grounds and Gooch was dropped at about the right time. The problem is selecting replacement players, which England have signally failed to do since Strauss and Collingwood left the team. It is only the fact that the cupboard is bare that keeps Cook in the team as his value is clearly in decline. Of course we do not know whether it is in terminal decline just yet.

      KP was dropped after 8 innings in which his TIMA was in the 30s. Cook has just completed a sequence of 8 innings where TIMA is in the 30s.

      There are plenty of cases where a batsman impressed by scoring a plucky century on debut – eg John Hampshire in 1969 or Frank Hayes in 1973 – only to fail to score in subsequent matches. Selection based on subjective factors has a very patchy track record – for every Trescothick or Vaughan you get a Rob Key (who also impressed in his early outings but never really kicked on) or an Usman Afzaal.

      Like

      • Mark August 10, 2017 / 6:49 pm

        It would be a novel idea. The first of many problems, I guess, is getting the initial selection into test cricket to start with. Wasn’t Trescothick and Vaughan left field choices that were not born out by stats?

        It might be an interesting trial to sack all selectors, and pick by averages only. Then Ian Ward can interview the computer when it all goes t*** up!

        Like

        • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 8:10 pm

          Initial selection is the real problem,I completely agree. It’s only when you have to decide whether to drop someone that a more objective technique might help. I need to look at the careers of other late starters, such as Bill Edrich who ended up averaging 40 although his first ten or so test innings only yielded about 100 runs, remedied by 219 in the Timeless Test of 1939, or Bob Simpson who went for a long time without scoring a century but broke that duck with 311 at Old Trafford in 1964. Maybe Sobers too, his first century was 365, but he originally batted at no. 11 for the West Indies. Maybe LCL and Co should create a separate page where I can post the graphs. They are easier to assimilate than my writings

          Like

      • northernlight71 August 10, 2017 / 8:29 pm

        Rob Key should never have been dropped. He could have taken over the captaincy and the whole history of the England cricket team would have been different, and a lot happier. No cliques, just more cake and pies and laughter at every close of play.
        😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 8:39 pm

          That quote from Strauss about “not treating the team like a lease car” really stuck in my throat. I have wanted to defile his shiny shoes ever since

          Like

          • Mark August 10, 2017 / 9:10 pm

            You have sold it to me MIAB!

            Sack the selectors, and replace them with Hal the computer. Not need for Strauss. No internal dossiers, no ” right sort of family” bullshit. Players could give interviews when they speak their mind and the coaches could do nothing. It would be worth it for the entertainment value.

            Perhaps Hal could pick the captain based on certain best criteria.

            Interesting about Hick and his averages when dropped. I always had mixed views about him. The great shame was he had to qualify for about 7 years. He should have been playing test cricket at 21. He could have been I suppose if he had stayed with Zimbabwe. Having said that he did have some technical issues against short pitched bowling, and good Yorkers.

            My lasting image of him is the constant abuse he had to take from Mervyn Hughes.

            Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 10:53 pm

            Mark, I think the selectors dropped Hick just at the wrong time. I cannot remember where the 98 not out declaration came but a player running a 40 average should not be sacked because of an arsy captain

            Like

  12. Mark August 10, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    Just watching the golf on the BBC red button. Do you think the BBC ever for one minute considered employing a man as the new front person of BBC golf? I very much doubt it in these gender obsessed days. Woman have to be pushed into men’s sport now come what may.

    He voice is very irritating……. it’s like nails down a blackboard. But I’m sure some gender liaison manager will have quotas to fill. (Don’t think I would ever get a job at Google)

    Like

  13. man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Random thoughts…. Who would replace Graham Hick with John Crawley and what punishment did they receive? Bad memories if the 90s… All those teams with Crawley and Chris Lewis under – performing as if they were on performance – sapping drugs.

    Like

    • Mark August 11, 2017 / 8:49 am

      The Hick thing was weird. I have never seen so much hype and expectation on a player in the 18 months before he was qualified to play for England. He was going on The Wogan show at the begining of the summer he started his test career. Magazine profiles, puff pieces. It was completely over the top. He was seen as the saviour of English cricket. Completely riddiculous.

      Then in the first series against the WI Ambrose and Walsh just destroyed him, and people felt let down. Angry even. I felt a bit sorry for him. Also he wasn’t or didn’t seem to give off an air of confidence. Not his fault. He seemed to be a quiet guy who was trying his best against unrealistic expectations.

      As I siad above …..what a shame he didn’t start playing test cricket at 21 not 27. ( or what ever it was)

      Like

  14. man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 10:55 pm

    On the other hand I really struggle to see what Stokes contributes to t team in the majority of matches where he takes no wickets scores no runs and takes 1 catch.

    Like

  15. man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 10:56 pm

    By the way Simonh is strangely absent. I hope everything is OK with him.

    Like

    • Mark August 11, 2017 / 8:57 am

      Yes, I hope he’s ok. He has not been arround much all through the SA test series. I don’t know if the boss has any insights as to his health?

      Perhaps he is just another cricket lover driven out of cricket in this country by our ruling elite? You can’t blame him.

      Like

      • SimonH August 12, 2017 / 4:16 pm

        Thanks for the kind thoughts!

        Not physically sick – just sick with corporate, elite sport!

        Liked by 2 people

  16. man in a barrel August 10, 2017 / 11:32 pm

    In case of doubt I would happily run a comparison of John Crawley against Nasser Hussein… As if anyone wants to know

    Like

    • Mark August 11, 2017 / 9:03 am

      When England had Hick and Robin Smith in the same order against the Aussies they would put the pace bowlers on against Hick, and as soon as they got him out they would take them off and put Warne on against Smith.

      John Crawley had a few good innings for England and looked a bit more sure of himself, particularly against spin. I have no idea what his averages were. Then you have Mark Ramprakash as well. All talented batsman who just didn’t seem to be able to make the extra step up.

      Robin Smith was fine batsman against pace bowling, and played some good innings against the WI.

      Like

    • Nicholas August 11, 2017 / 10:48 am

      Believe it or not, John Crawley went on three consecutive Ashes tours – 1994/5, 1998/9 and 2002/3. Considering he was in and out of the side throughout that time, that’s quite an achievement. I think I’m right in saying that the only other player in all three touring parties was Alec Stewart (Gough would have been, had he been fit in 2002/3).

      Like

  17. Sri Grins August 11, 2017 / 1:03 am

    I don’t know if any of you got to see the article on consistency index done by ananth on cricinfo. This anoints tony greig as the most consistent and there are indexes for many well known batsmen. Seems to be a similar analysis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel August 14, 2017 / 9:02 pm

      I will check but my gut tells me that Greig was very consistent, apart from 1976 and even then he played 2 magnificent innings at Headingley that are never recalled. His 76? in the 2nd innings had Clive Lloyd setting defensive fields for Holding. The Packer association tarnished him but he was a very good bat and a Stokes type bowler, and a good fielder. In most teams, he would be picked in front of Stokes and Flintoff. When Moeen blazes a cover drive for 4 off Morkel and Rabada before the 2nd new ball, and then the attack had Roberts and Holding in their prime,then the comparison with Greig has merit

      Like

  18. "IronBalls" McGinty August 12, 2017 / 8:38 am

    In other news….I hear Downton is plotting a return to inside cricket under the auspices of Middlesex?

    Like

  19. d'Arthez August 13, 2017 / 8:55 am

    A friend of mine went to the market in India, when the innings started. By the time he got back Sri Lanka had done just enough with the bat to make the only question in the game left is whether or not they’ll be able to take it beyond lunch on day 4. Ultracompetitive cricket, from the sounds of it.

    The ECB will be thrilled with that.

    With regards to numbers, the question will be: what are the numbers worth if they’re deliberately skewed by the powers that be to be meaningless? (case in point: Voges’ career stats)

    Like

    • d'Arthez August 13, 2017 / 11:10 am

      Follow up on that. India actually enforced the follow on (again), with Sri Lanka needing 352 runs to make India bat again. Ultracompetitive – maybe it would be if India started their innings on 0/6. But hey, this is what the ECB, BCCI and CA want. So enjoy this elite “sport”.

      Like

    • d'Arthez August 14, 2017 / 9:20 am

      Sri Lanka were so competitive, that the game was done before tea on Day 3.

      Like

  20. jomesy August 14, 2017 / 1:23 pm

    I enjoyed that so thank you MIAB.

    (Also TIMA made me chuckle)

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel August 14, 2017 / 8:51 pm

      Let’s try to get Shiny Toy to mention it in one of his vacuous commentary postings… He makes the aged Henry Blofield seem like Einstein. Is it an extreme form of politeness?

      Like

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