With her flask of tea, well sharpened pencils and unflinching concentration, the scorer is a cornerstone of club cricket. Despite her loyalty, a cricket team bent on success needs more than a tidy book and timely averages at the end of the season.
Top club sides are looking increasingly professional. They have a coach who put them through sessions a couple of times a week. They have agreements with local gyms to handle cricket-specific strength and conditioning programmes. Preseason training includes weeks of nets and several warm up matches.
Alongside this is the growing trend for using statistics to aid with coaching and developing players. The old fashioned scorebook is no longer enough. Top sides have started to employ analysts to watch and record every ball.
Unlike the scorer, analysts are tactically and technically savvy. They take details like a scorer would, but they also analyse trends in play to feedback to the coach and captain so they can work on weaker aspects.
Here are some key areas the traditional scorer either doesn’t record or ignores:
- Contacts: It’s a statistical fact (and common sense) that the more a batsman plays at a ball the more likely he is to get out. A scorer records a dot as a dot. An analyst records what happened (the ball was struck cleanly, the ball was edged, the ball was played and missed and so on).
- Scoring Percentage: Most scorers present batting averages, some even during the season. The analyst will know batting average and strike rate. He or she will also know what percentage of balls a batsman makes a scoring shot. It’s also handy to know what percentage of scoring shots are boundaries.
- Bowling Partnerships: Modern coaches talk a lot about bowling in partnerships. Unlike batting partnerships the scorer never looks at how well bowlers bowl in pairs. Analysts look at rates per over, averages and strike rates of bowling partnerships.
But these stats are just the start. The real job of the analyst is to provide more than raw numbers.
An analyst links stats to real life cricket improvements
To illustrate what I mean, let’s take a typical example of an analyst in a club situation.
The captain wants his side to be better at running between the wickets. The team have a tendency to want to score with boundaries in a blaze of glory and it’s leaving the side short of runs with opportunities missed.
The analyst, captain and coach get together. The analyst demonstrates that the side score a lot of runs in boundaries but also pat back a lot of balls that could be worked as singles. This is especially true in the first 20 overs. The analyst suggests setting a target of 40 singles in the first 20 overs and 40 singles in the last 30 overs.
The coach and captain agree. The coach goes away and designs a training plan to coach players to reach the newly set target.
As time passes the analyst watches the result and reports back, allowing the coach to see how well his training is working while the captain can decide if the targets are realistic and testing but still achievable.
At club level analysts won’t have access to equipment to video and notate every ball, but a knowledgeable person in the scorebox is just the edge your team needs to spot problems and deal with them in training.