Stat Attack: Little known ways your scorer will help your team improve | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Stat Attack: Little known ways your scorer will help your team improve

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Admit it, you know your average.

Some players know it to the 3rd decimal place, some have a more vague idea, but we all love to know what our average is. It's such an easy way to compare players. Average over 40 with that bat and you are doing well, average under 20 with the ball and you are a star player.

But stats are increasingly having a place in helping teams win more games, and most teams can take advantage easily, even at club and school level.

Taking a lesson from the IPL

In 2003 a book called Moneyball argued that baseball was using outdated stats to decide how valuable the multi-million dollar players were. In particular it showed how a team with far less money for buying players could match the big spenders by picking players undervalued by traditional statistics.

This model was emulated by Rajasthan Royals in the first IPL tournament. They used non-traditional stats to analyse player's strengths and bought a team for less than half of the price of the most expensive side.

So how does this help a club team on a Saturday afternoon?

Using old fashioned averages

Before we look at the exciting stuff that can give you a real edge, let's not forget the traditional averages. Here are some uses for the data your side probably already keeps:

  • Batting order. A good average means a reasonable batsman so a place in the top order makes sense. You can also see from strike rate which batsmen like to score quickly. This allows you to place those players in a position when quick scoring is needed most, such as towards the end of a one day match.
  • Bowling spells. Average and strike rate (balls per wicket) are a good general indicator a captain can use when picking bowlers to try and bowl the opposition out. For example, if the opposition are 5 wickets down, needing 80 runs in the last 20 overs you would lean towards a bowler with a strike rate of 24 (or lower) and an average of 16 (or lower) as, on average, these stats will lead to you bowling the opposition out for less than the runs required.
  • Limited overs. In limited over style games the bowler's average runs per over (RpO) is very important. If the opposition are chasing 200 to win in 50 overs and your bowlers have an RpO of 3.5 then, on average, you win.

Of course, cricket is more complicated than the numbers. Conditions change, form goes up and down and opposition batsman do crazy things. That said, a good captain has these figures in mind when he is thinking about the batting order or deciding who should be bowling.

Moneyball in club cricket

Where things start to get really interesting is when you look at the lesser known stats. All these figures assist captains in deciding things under match pressure. However, even better, they allow players to identify and correct weaknesses that can get them up to the next level. Let's look at some of these stats now.

Hit ratio - For batsmen this is a stat that shows you how many times you made contact with the ball. The more 'good' contacts you make per innings, the more runs you score. A dot in the scorebook might be a play and miss, a thick edge just short of a fielder or a cover drive out of the middle brilliantly fielded. Each outcome requires a different intervention from the coach.

This requires an eagle-eyed scorer in matches to record the outcome (play and miss, good contact, bad contact, left) or PitchVision in the nets (PitchVision allows the bowler, batsman or coach to tap a button to record outcomes like 'play and miss').

This ratio can also been applied to bowlers. Bowler's who have less 'good' contacts take more wickets.

First ball runs - It's been shown that the better the average runs from the first ball of the over, the better the chance of winning. That's why modern ODI teams are looking to score from the first ball more aggressively. Teams who are aware of this stat will be looking to attack more too.

If your first ball average is low, it gives you something to work on as a team, especially rotating the strike which can be overlooked at lower levels unless players are really getting tied down.

Phase runs - Rather than looking at the rate per over across a whole innings, clever coaches can split the innings into 3 phases: opening overs, middle overs and death. Look at the run rate of each phase to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are. For example, many club and school teams start slowly and runs are lost in the first 10-20 overs that can only be made up with over aggression at the end.

As stats get used more often, the sharp coach, captain or player can use them to gain an advantage that you don't see in the normal figures. Make the most of your scorer, they are becoming more valuable every season.

image credit: Nick Treby


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