Good batting sides build innings. And that means having nous.
You can boost this knowledge by analysing strike rate stats. This is something PitchVision have been doing all season with a club side. The team, McCrea West of Scotland, have played 14 matches (50 over), winning 11 with an average score (batting first) of 210-7.
But there's far more we can do than look at the team total and assume 210 will win you most games.
We can analyse how these innings were built to better understand how to improve further and avoid fatal mistakes.
Why strike rate?
The team's strike rate (balls per wicket lost) is important because it gives us an insight into how many balls a partnership is likely to last. This gives us a benchmark: Work out how to make the number bigger and you end up with the highest runs you can achieve against any given team on any given pitch.
In this case study, the overall strike rate (SR) was 36.39. That's a wicket falling every 36 balls.
This was done at at a Rate per Ball (RpB) of 0.72. Meaning the average runs per wicket was 26.26.
Do you know the same for your team?
Do you know what effect this has on your overall score?
In our example, when the team did below average on strike rate, the final score dropped to 170, and the chance of winning fell to just 50%
When the strike rate was above average, the final score rose to 225, and the team never lost!
Of course, batting teams don't normally look at bowling strike rate. Taking the time to work it out will give you insights other teams have not considered. In a world where every 1% counts, this could be the deciding factor.
Strike rate by phase
The overall rate is a great starting point, but to find out even more we need to break things down further.
Here's the SR and runs scored broken down into each 10 over stage of the match:
As you imagine, the deeper in the game, the more the run rate increase and the SR decreases. Batsmen both tend to take more risks and be lower down the order as the game goes on. This means wickets fall more often at a trade, off for faster scoring.
This is expected, especially as the tactics are based on a gradual acceleration rather than hell-for-leather. Yet it also reveals some areas for improvement.
- The SR for overs 10-20 is out of line. Can more runs be scored by pushing SR up to where it "should" be around 43?
- The SR in the last 10 overs dips significantly to just 23, yet this only generates 8 more runs. Death batting certainly needs some work!
Looking at strike rates and working out why this happens allows you to build practice and tactics in a highly specific way. Instead of going into nets to vaguely hit balls, you walk with an aim in mind: If I only have a dozen balls to face on average, how am going to score from six or more, including a couple of boundaries?
Strike Rate by bowling
Another factor we can mine is the type of bowling.
Here you can see very little difference between seam up bowling and spin bowling. Spinners are slightly more effective at getting the batsmen out but only by 4 balls, and with both SR over 35, that's enough time for the average pair to score more than 20 runs and sail past 200 as a final total.
This team has avoided the dangerous part: being weaker against one type of bowling. In the league they play, spin tends to dominate, so playing spin well is a crucial skill.
It's possible to further look at types of bowling in more detail (left and right arm as well as types of shots played, scoring rates and risks taken), but that is for another time.
Strike Rate by shot
Finally, for tactical reasons, we can see SR by type of shot.
You might imagine the attacking shots have a lower SR than the defensive ones, but this chart shows it's not that simple.
Front foot attacking shots (drives, sweeps and power hits) are riskier to play but carry a much higher reward in that runs are scored 66% of the time with 19% going for a boundary (compared to 6% overall).
Back foot attacking shots like cuts and pulls carry far less risk that the front foot counterpart, but still see 64% of balls scored.
However, back foot attacking shots are played much less often partly due to the lengths bowled and partly due to batsman reluctance to play on the back foot on slow, low pitches.
Looking at this information might change the tactical approach in future.
The team could explore how often the cut and pull is put into action as it is not as risky as it seems.
Meanwhile, the defensive options are both much safer and much less likely to yield runs, as you would expect. Back foot defence is by far the safest way to play, but still gets a scoring percentage of 29% (close to the overall innings target of 35%). Front foot defensive shots are still safe, but riskier than back foot and about as risky as cutting and pulling. They are also the least likely to get runs. The average batsman scoring just 7 runs per innings from this shot.
What does this mean for batting tactics?
Playing defensively is not quite as safe as it seems unless you are on the back foot. This means batsmen can look to attack more balls, especially on the back foot and know that the overall SR will not drop.
Take this knowledge into practice and start working on ways to play more back foot attacking shots.
Strike rates improve your batting
Hopefully by now you have seen how this one example can throw up interesting areas to work on and develop your team.
It's important to use your own stats and not assume things will be the same for your team as for the example above, so plug in to PV Match to get access to scoring data quickly (that is also combined with video highlights).
Dig around like we have done here and you'll be on the way to getting the edge!