You Bet That Someone’s Counting You – Guest Post by “Man in a Barrel”

We’ve had this for a while on Being Outside Cricket, as earlier in the summer MiaB produced some interesting data on moving averages to give another indicator on form and consistency. Here MiaB updates the data set and has a punt on some of the Aussie selections. Like most, even he didn’t see Paine being inflicted. My thanks, as always, and I hope to see more of this in the future. Take it away…..

This is an update on the “twenty innings moving average” (TIMA) method of analysing batting form that I introduced back at the start of the last UK domestic test match season.   LCL suggested that I should give an update just ahead of the next Ashes series to see what thoughts it prompts.  Just as a reminder, I take the last 20 innings and draw the average from them.  After the next innings, I subtract the innings at the start of the series and add on the latest score – so it is a running average of the 20 latest scores.

If we start with Cook, the conventional wisdom is that he had a good summer – 572 runs at an average of 44 – and certainly the usual suspects have been quick to applaud this return to form.  If however you apply a little of what some people disparagingly characterise as “Root maths”, you will recall that 243 of those runs came in a single innings.  So in his other 12 innings, he “only” scored 329 runs at 27, which suggests that there are some problems with the conventional wisdom.  If we turn to the moving average method, we find that at the end of the Chennai test his TIMA stood at 41.  This calculation includes his 2 previous centuries – the 130 at Rajkot and the 105 against Pakistan at Old Trafford.  After his first innings at Lords against South Africa, this last century drops out of the calculation and the moving average starts to drop until it reached a trough at 30.85 at Trent Bridge.  When he made his marathon 243 at Edgbaston, the Rajkot century was still in the running average, so up it goes to 47.  But in the final test of the summer it slips out of the calculation and he starts the Ashes series at 39.4.

His moving average since November 2015 (the Sharjah test against Pakistan) where it last got above 60 has been a little like a W, but on a slope so that each peak is a little lower than the one before and each trough a little deeper.  This certainly suggests a batsman in decline – that Sharjah test is 49 innings ago.

I didn’t get to see much of Cook before 2010 because of work commitments and I have only really watched him since about 2014 but I wonder how much his technique has changed over the years.  One thing that strikes me is his elaborate trigger movements.  During the bowler’s run up, he goes through an intricate series of fidgets, shuffles, and bodily contortions so that, when the bowler’s arm comes over, he is balanced and ready to play whatever shot is required.  Any slight error in the timing of this set of moves and he is likely to get caught in strange positions, as seemed to happen a lot over the last summer.  Of course, there are times when he gets it right consistently and gets runs but this is not happening quite as regularly anymore.  Was he always like this at the crease?  I imagine the selectors and coaches must be slightly concerned by this but obviously I am not calling for him to be dropped.  For one thing, he would have to be replaced and we still have not managed to replace Strauss.  However, it is fortunate, shall we say, that all the media focus is on the guy at the other end, whoever it turns out to be for the Ashes.

Root, on the other hand, has had an unequivocally good summer. His TIMA remains above 45 and, for 7 of the 13 innings I am looking at, it is above 50.  You cannot quibble with figures like those.

Bairstow is a cause for concern, however.  He came back from India with his moving average at 44 after a decent tour.  This summer, it has just dropped and dropped till it now stands at 36.  I believe he is a better batsman than this – and in fact before the South Africa tests his career average stood at 41.  It has now dropped to 39.8.

Stokes is another person who has had a good season – 527 runs at 43.9.  However his moving average is stuck around the mid-30s.  It has been less than 40 for 80% of his career.  I know that the media is full of despair at the idea of Stokes being absent from the Ashes but quite why people make him out to be England’s last hope is beyond me.  Yes, he is capable of the occasional remarkable innings but, just as an example, only 1 of his test hundreds has been higher than 150.  Although his last 10 innings have yielded 470, the 10 before that produced 245.  Of course, he is unlikely to face as much spin in Australia as he did in India – with the proviso that he might not get there – and the pitches should be less awkward.

If the figures suggest that Stokes is over-rated then Moeen is surely under-rated, which probably suits him.  He seems to thrive when the spotlight is not upon him.  He has had his usual up and down season but after Chennai  his TIMA was 43.83 – a figure which Stokes has only bettered 7 times (when he had both his 258 and the 128 at Rajkot in his numbers) – and it stayed above Stokes’s numbers for 6 of the 12 innings they played.

Turning to Australia, the problem is that, as so often, the likely team contains a number of people with little test experience.  Their last team included Renshaw (18 innings), Handscomb (19 innings) and Maxwell (14 innings).  It seems to me that Australian sides for the Ashes have almost always included a number of batsmen unknown to their opponents.  We are left with Smith – unless injury rules him out – who has astonishing figures.  In his last 14 innings his lowest TIMA is 57.89!

Warner, on the other hand, is going through a patch almost as rough as his initial period in test cricket.  Since his score of 163 at Brisbane against New Zealand in November 2015 fell out of his running average, his TIMA has dropped out of the 50s and hovered around 40.  Not as good as it used to but still very reasonable and better than most on the English team, apart from Root.

Wade is hovering around the mid 20s.  Khawaja whom I presume will be picked for the Ashes has got a good set of figures for his last set of 20 innings.  He was consistently averaging over 45 and sometimes getting over 55.  It strikes me that he has slipped under the radar on this side of the world.  I did not think there was much value in looking at Sean Marsh.


MiaB did add some charts, but I do need to find a better way of incorporating them in here. I’ll add them when I do it!



37 thoughts on “You Bet That Someone’s Counting You – Guest Post by “Man in a Barrel”

  1. SimonH Nov 18, 2017 / 2:42 pm

    “Khawaja whom I presume will be picked for the Ashes has got a good set of figures for his last set of 20 innings. He was consistently averaging over 45 and sometimes getting over 55. It strikes me that he has slipped under the radar on this side of the world”.

    A home and away measure is more revealing of Khawaja than slicing his record by 20 innings. Since he re-established himself in the side in November 2015, Khawaja averages 77 at home and 29 away. Even that is a little misleading because he averaged 69 in NZ and just 9 in Asia.

    He clearly has a weakness against the turning ball. Khawaja against Ali promises to be one of the key mini-battles of the series. If England could get Smith in relatively early, it would be a massive plus. There’s also a feeling that Lehmann and/or Smith have lacked patience with Khawaja’s troubles against spin and could hook him out of the team quickly if given an excuse to do so. THis would again be to England’s advantage because he has been a superb player of the kind of fast-medium bowling England are otherwise relying on and I don’t see many other good options Australia have for No.3 (they’ve tended to promote Smith which I’m sure England would love them to do).

    Meanwhile, play spot the agenda:


    • SimonH Nov 18, 2017 / 2:48 pm

      And then there’s….

      Am I dreaming or did the England coaching and selection set-up say that they didn’t want any new players coming in for the Ashes and were only going to look at players they’d already seen? They must join us “outside cricket”!


      • Mark Nov 18, 2017 / 11:08 pm

        And I wonder who it could be who told him back in September? Cough cough.

        Oh, and by the way since he is now sneering at “Those not involved”…….. how many Ashes test matches did you play in Mr Selvey?

        What do you know about it? Seeing as you are not involved either. Unless you count drinking in the lounge bar with your mates.


        • SimonH Nov 19, 2017 / 8:46 am

          Selvey’s manor has a new motto: “Played in my World XI good, everyone else bad (except Chef and Jimmy)”.

          Did you notice how he didn’t quite get around to a Tweet about Stoneman’s first century of the tour? I suppose we should be grateful he hasn’t criticised Stoneman for not making 160 – unlike Newman!

          FTR I’m not having a go at the selection of Paine itself. Of the three changes in the Australian team, it’s the one I’d be least exercised about. Wade has disappointed with bat and gloves, Paine is a good cricketer and there isn’t an obvious better candidate that I can see. Now as for dropping Maxwell…..


          • Mark Nov 19, 2017 / 10:05 am

            Has Selvey actually said who he thinks should play instead of Stoneman?

            I notice that Ian Chappell has said he thinks Stoneman has the game to play well in Australia. He can play cross bat shots well which is important on more bouncy pitches. That doesn’t mean of course that he will do well in the test matches because there will be a lot of pressure on him and he hasn’t much expeirence in that pressure cooker environment.

            Selvey has shown before that he has his favourites based on nothing to do with merit.


    • Rooto Nov 18, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Getting Moeen on in the, say, fifth over, should a wicket fall early, is just the sort of radical, thought-out strategy that England would never employ in a thousand years. Sadly.


      • Scrim Nov 19, 2017 / 11:26 am

        Australian batsmen, with very few exceptions, have been very vulnerable versus spin in the subcontinent for decades. Spinners with bigger reputations than Moeen (eg Murali, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Swann, Ajmal) have come to Australia for decades and left with averaging 50+. It would be interesting to watch Moeen with the new ball, but given that Khawaja had no problem dealing with Yasir Shah or Keshav Maharaj last Australian summer, in my opinion it would be a bit of a Hail Mary strategy.

        Khawaja is weak on slow, turning pitches, not weak vs spin per se.

        If Moeen plays more than a support role with the ball – keeping one end tight, breaking some partnerships etc – he’ll be in uncharted territory for a touring finger spinner in Australia.


    • Deep Purple Fred Nov 19, 2017 / 12:47 am

      Everyone knows he’s Australia’s best keeper, you turnip, you hardly need to be inside cricket to know that. The concern is his injury, form and recent playing history. Did someone tell you in September if he’s ready to play a test match, and why? Got anything to say about how he’s going to make the step up?

      I would have been embarrassed as a teenager if I demonstrated this level of boastfulness and insecurity. For an older man his self promotion is just excruciating.


  2. Silk Nov 18, 2017 / 7:02 pm

    Paine and Marsh are two of the worst selections I can remember. And I’ve been following England since before Aftab Habib.

    Good news for us, I’d say.


    • oreston Nov 18, 2017 / 9:20 pm

      It is a curious turn of events that looks from the outside almost like a shake-up simply for the sake of it. Was it a perfect Australia team beforehand? No, far from it, but on balance it probably isn’t any better now – whereas if they’d just brought in Bancroft for Renshaw it might possibly have been. It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones afflicted by bouts of selector lunacy (Tim Paine is at least as baffling a pick as James Vince) though whether these changes will benefit England I’m not at all sure as I still think the Aussie bowlers will prove decisive.


    • northernlight71 Nov 18, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      Middle aged, middle class white men. Clearly the only people capable of knowing anything about cricket.


      • Deep Purple Fred Nov 18, 2017 / 11:37 pm

        It’s what all the sexy young things are wearing nowdays. Have you seen the suits Emmanuel Macron squeezes himself into? Healy and Taylor have the old 1980’s baggy look. Predictably, it’s only the older gentlemen Lawry and Chappel who are properly suited.
        (Chappel might take offense at being called a gentleman).


        • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 20, 2017 / 3:45 pm

          He and Bill Lawry would probably be delighted at being referred to as middle age though?


    • Mark Nov 18, 2017 / 11:12 pm

      Na, it’s just the latest exitbits at Madame Tussaud’s!


    • oreston Nov 20, 2017 / 5:59 pm

      Shane Warne’s dental work is probably visible from space.


  3. Deep Purple Fred Nov 18, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    Interesting comment on Stokes. Yes his batting doesn’t deserve the hero worship he’s gotten, but I suspect the excitement is that he also bowls, and catches, and is also passionate. His batting average is only a part of his whole story.


    • quebecer Nov 18, 2017 / 11:56 pm

      Actually, Fred, I thought Stokes’ batting had changed by the second half of our summer in to some of the best I’ve seen from an England player. His off side stroke play had become something quite exceptional, and he has always been strong straight and to leg.

      I think just at the time he was a numpty and ruined it, he’d progressed to being a real deal batsman at test level. Not just better, but in a different category to what he was before.

      P.S. Of course, not in the same category as Shaun Marsh, obviously.


      • Deep Purple Fred Nov 19, 2017 / 12:34 am

        Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t disparaging his batting. For someone who is on the surface a knock around all rounder, he has a fine technique. He’s clean and strong, there’s no slogging going on here, he sees the ball and knows early what he’s going to do with it, especially straight. And he’s a bit psycho too, so you never quite know what he’ll do next. He’s a cut above Swann or Prior who’ve filled that space before. I was just saying he value isn’t just his batting. Probably a painfully obvious point but I decided to say it anyway, since MiaB was saying his batting wasn’t all that much. I’m really sorry we won’t see him in Australia.

        As regards Shaun Marsh, take your f4£*ùfç8 comment and sh£ù349ùè it where 2$µ%§è5. OK? It’s all I can say.

        It’s OK, we’ll just have to do it with 10.


        • quebecer Nov 19, 2017 / 12:46 am

          Heh heh heh…


  4. Mark Nov 19, 2017 / 12:07 am

    There are different types of players with averages in the mid 30s. Some are plodders who are consistent at scoring 30s to 60s. Others are capable of scoring hundreds that are match winning or match changing,

    Stokes falls into the later group. His average is probably not what it should be. However, you know he is able to score a big hundred and change the game. Add to this his bowling and all round competitiveness, and you have player who is better than his average.


  5. Mark Nov 19, 2017 / 10:15 am

    Just watching The Sunday supplement. Martin Samuel has just explained the invention of the wheel.

    Namely that the media run endless pro Man U stories because that’s what most people read. Of course he tries to pretend that the papers have only just worked this out because they can now monitor what people click on the Internet.

    A good excuse, but the media have known this for decades. That is why they they have been doing it. They were doing it back in 1970s when Man U won nothing of interest. They know who reads what stories, and because there are many more Man U fans than any other team……. they run endless content to satisfy their biggest customers. A normal business model, giving their customers what they want sure…….but not the unbiased football jounalism they claim to be delivering.

    They are skewing their stories and opinion for their customers. Finally we have some honesty.


  6. SimonH Nov 19, 2017 / 11:22 am

    Some of our scribes are saying how good it would be if the England batsmen could get after Lyon and hit him out of the attack.

    Didn’t some bloke try that on the last tour and when it didn’t come off they slaughtered him?….


    • Mark Nov 19, 2017 / 11:47 am

      If The England batsman can see off the Aussie pace bowlers it will be madness to give it away against Lyon in some 20/20 hoopla. England need to look to bat 4/5 sessions innings in the first 2/3 test matches to put lots of miles on the Aussie paceman.

      Sure, if you can force Lyon out of the attack you make the pacemen have to bowl more overs, but don’t get bowled out casing some pie in sky theory. What England need to do at Brisbane is be competitive and not let the whole tour unravel in one test match, like last time.


    • Mark Nov 19, 2017 / 11:50 am

      Great!…….More tax payers money wasted.

      Perhaps Smith can write a column in the New Statesman about how tax payers money is pissed up the wall on meangless, non important clap trap?


      • SimonH Nov 20, 2017 / 3:16 pm

        Instead he’s given the world his analysis of Trump (based on his own idiot assumptions at the airport – which of course must have world-historic significance).

        The cause of Trump is…. that the elite aren’t arrogant enough. And social media, of course. But mostly that the elite aren’t arrogant enough.

        Even #39 doesn’t inflict stuff like this on us.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 20, 2017 / 6:56 pm

      He’s got more freedom at an online paper few people read and he’s definitely got more bolshie as time goes on.

      He doesn’t play safe but he’s a bit too Beautiful South for my tastes.


    • dannycricket Nov 19, 2017 / 10:13 pm

      The obvious explanation would be that the Police, or whoever makes these decisions, has told Ben Stokes. He then told the ECB, allowing Berry to find out through the usual methods of “good journalism”.


  7. SimonH Nov 20, 2017 / 9:57 am

    “One of the big things that has come out is that athletes don’t have very many rights in the face of the governing body of the sport in which they participate. In many ways they have fewer rights than an Uber driver has and that has been at the heart of the problem. Because they don’t really have those rights, the governing bodies have got away with not having the sort of proper grievance procedures that would be normal in a lot of professional workplaces. That is something that needs to change.”

    MP Damian Collins making a point that was made around here once upon a time but that not a single English cricket correspondant thought worth mentioning.

    By the way, does anyone remember that Collins was going to investigate the ECB because Collins seems to have forgotten all about it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Nov 20, 2017 / 12:14 pm

      Sports governing bodies are one of the biggest scandals of the later half of the twentieth centrury and into the millennium. If you look at how some of these bodies were high jacked by a bunch of Southern European ageing fascists, and turned into entities more powerful than most States it’s is chilling.

      To see Prime Ministers, and Presidents have to bow before these rascals is vomit inducing. They fly in like some global deity, and demamd total obiedience from the host nation. Not a penny of tax will be paid by them, and other business interests are marginalised while the preferred sponsors (arogantly boasting they are part of the Olympic family or The football family are given massive preferential treatment..

      Yet the scandals involving these organisations have been covered up, and tame politicians side with these organisations above their own people. Most of these events leave the country hosting the event out of pocket, and never produce the so called benefits they claim.

      Then you look at other sports like cycling and domestic governing bodies, and it’s the same story just on a reduced scale. The FA has not been fit for purpose for 40 years. The ECB is. Joke.

      Money attracts spivs and charlatans in all areas of life, but the huge money that has poured into sport (quite often a Monopoly entity) has attracted some real pieces of work.


      • man in a barrel Nov 20, 2017 / 2:10 pm

        I find it interesting that more countries are affiliated to FIFA than to the UN and that the the secretary of the former is officially paid a large multiple of the salary of the secretary of the latter. Let’s not get onto the topic of “other” emoluments.


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 20, 2017 / 6:54 pm

        A survey of Premier League owners would be interesting indeed. But no-one is really going there.


  8. SimonH Nov 20, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    This was tucked away in GD’s report on the last warm-up game:

    “Craig Overton was again pressed into service as an ‘enforcer’ with two men out for the hook, a short leg and leg gully. His figures suffered as a result”.



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