This is part seven of the review. For the previous parts click here. This section looks more at batting performance in Premier club cricket.
So far, the batting has focused on the different challenges of chasing and setting targets, splitting them up. However, there are areas that rely less on context to find strong areas and development areas for the team and individuals.
First, how did West play the spinners and seamers?
West batsmen faced roughly even numbers of balls between spin (46%) and pace (54%). There was not much difference in overall performance: Averages are 18 and 21, SR 60 and 57, 16 and 17 Balls per Boundary and 3.6 and 3.4 RpO.
Interestingly, West batsmen were far more in control of the spinners, playing false shots 22% of the time. The pace bowlers had 31% false shots, but only managed one more wicket over the whole season.
We can also see who played the different types of bowling better or worse.
Against spin, Abacus and Seashot outperformed both the team average and their own overall average. All other batsmen under-performed compared to their overall average. Certainly, room for improvement.
More batsmen were ahead of overall average against fast bowling. Cobra, Northflood, Bluecall and Seashot all outperformed both team against pace average and their own overall average. Abacus, Mayor and Kodak under-performed against the seamers.
From here we can look to personalise preparation for next season by working on specific types of bowling.
We can also hunt for weaker area by looking at how batsmen got out.
The overall balance of wickets was even: 52 wickets fell to fast bowlers and 54 to spinners. There were 17 dropped catches for the opposition pacemen and 15 from the twirlers (plus two missed stumpings).
There were slightly more bowled and caught against fast bowlers, but the spinners got twice as many LBW decisions (12 compared to six). Of the catches, there was a roughly even distribution between close catches, boundary catches and keeper catches. Fast bowlers had more catches in the ring (16 to nine) and spinners took three caught and bowled while seamers had none.
Its clear West batsmen don’t have a great weakness in any area of dismissal. Although, it is worth keeping in mind any technical issues around getting LBW to spin or caught in the ring from pace bowlers. One individual point to note is a top order player with a reputation for playing fast bowling badly. Not only did he get out to spin twice as often, he also had an above par average against fast bowlers. This is one occasion were perception does not match reality.
There is very little dismissal information per batsman, however most batsmen get caught. That means Winter will want to consider why he was bowled more than any other dismissal.
On the other side of the coin; Northflood and Cobra did not get out LBW all season. This is remarkable for two top order batsmen. Even more so when you note that there were only seven LBW appeals between Cobra and Northflood all season.
Luck in batting
Of course, what we don’t know was how many of dismissals came through good bowling or bad batting. This is somewhat measurable by looking at a few key factors that show how much “luck” West had.
First is fielding. It’s lucky for the batting team when a catch is dropped, or a piece of fielding leads to extra runs. West tracked this information in 2018 to see the difference. Of course, even when you know how many unforced errors there were, it’s hard to calculate exactly how many extra runs poor fielding gives you, but based on average scores we can see:
From this table, it’s clear West both had more chances and sneaked a few extra runs compared to the opposition. West batsmen were dropped more, and opposition fielders made more errors than West fielders. The run cost averages out at a clear 10 runs different per game.
After fielding errors, we can look at runs scored in ways the batsman was not in control; edges or mis-hits. The more runs scored this way, the luckier the batsmen.
West played a false shot 26% of the time, resulting in 13% of all runs scored. The combined opposition played false shots 27% of the time, resulting in 16% of runs scored. West certainly had a little less luck when it comes to runs scored.
Breaking this down to individuals, Northflood score more runs from false shots than anyone (46), but also played more. He scored runs when he wasn’t in control and got away with it for about the average amount of time (6.02 is dead average for West). Cobra played the highest percentage of false shots but scored from far fewer of them. You could say both gave more to the bowler than average, but Northflood scored while Cobra played and missed.
Abacus easily played the fewest false shots and scored just 8% of his runs this way (average is 13%). He also had almost 8 false shots per wicket. Through his style of play, he has attempted to reduce the influence of risky batting dramatically: He stopped scoring lucky runs and reduced his chances of getting out through a false shot.
Seashot had a False Shots per Wicket rate (FpW) of 9, getting away with it almost three times more often than Bluecall. The pair were roughly the same in runs scored from false shots. You could certainly say Bluecall was unlucky compared to the average, but you can also say that Seashot’s false shots were less likely to get out because he played in a less aggressive manner. There’s a hint again here that Seashot could increase his intent relatively safely as he has three false shots to play with before he returns to average levels.
Overall, tradition dictates that the more aggressive you play, the more likely you are to get out but the faster you score. This analysis shows the picture as a lot more nuanced, and batsmen need to learn their own game to be able to make small adjustments along the cautious-aggressive continuum. The key question – especially in limited overs – is “how hard can you push it before risk overtakes reward”?
One way to look at this further is to break down performance by shot (all formats).
You can easily see in the graphic that glances are the safest and most effective run scoring shot (even more effective than the defensive block). The shot averages 128.00 - as show by bubble size – and takes 137 deliveries before a wicket falls (BpW). It is also the best strike rotation shot, with an SR of 93 and a high control percentage of 85% showing a very low number of false shots.
In fact, it’s also interesting to note that shots designed to rotate the strike are also much less likely to get a wicket than either pure attack or pure defence. The flick, push and glance combined have a better average and higher number of balls per wicket than other shots. It can be argued rotating the strike is the best way of not losing a wicket.
As expected, attacking shots have a greater SR but a lower BpW. The pull shot is an outlier, played mostly to an especially bad ball, the risk of getting out is lower than most attacking shots, including the drive. As a result, the pull shot has the second-best average of all shots.
Driving is less reliable than you might imagine, suggesting room for improvement in a range of batting situations.
Sweeping is played rarely because it is relatively high risk. Although the reward of an SR of 161 is possibly worth it more often than it is played.
The cut is the least valuable attacking shot, not yielding many runs per wicket, and forcing a lot of false shots. The runs that did come were at a lower rate. As the cut is usually played to a bad ball, there appears to be an opportunity for better execution. Although, it was also the attacking shot played least often, suggesting batsmen are aware of the risks. As 11 different batsmen got out cutting, it’s certainly not down to one person.
From the above, it is becoming obvious that “strike rotation” is a safe and effective strategy. You are less likely to get out and you score at a decent rate (about four an over). However, it is hard to achieve, with every batsman missing out on chances to rotate.
This leads to the question; how good are West at rotating compared to the opposition?
For the purposes of this comparison, we will assume some things: A ball rotated is when runs are scored from any shot that is under control. It does not include boundaries or shots edged or otherwise miss hit. Ideally, we would examine the line and length of the deliveries, but we don’t have that so instead we will take strike rotation literally and say it’s any shot where the batsman has deliberately scored 1-3 runs (even if his intent may have been to hit a boundary).
By this measure, West rotated 27% of their controlled shots and faced a dot 43% (the rest were boundaries, leaves or false shots). The opposition combined scored 24% and 46%.
That works out as 75 runs per game rotated for West and 69 for the opposition. The difference is very small.
The conclusion is simple: Teams are all about equal at rotation and all miss a lot of opportunities to rotate. Over 90 balls every game are played under control but result in a dot. Of course, not every delivery is a chance to score, but it does show there are opportunities. A team who can take 10% of these chances to score will gain, on average, 13 extra runs.
This shows in the performance of Stirling against West, Stirling set both the highest total to chase and made the highest chase of the year. They had controlled rotation at 32%, resulting in 107 runs scored per game, a boost of almost 30 runs on the average.
With the example we can see there is certainly an opportunity to look to rotate more often with focused practice on specific shots such as drop and run, glances and pushes. For example, a controlled push (a straight bat shot mostly played into the off side) results in a dot 49% of the time. A drive – the more full-blooded version – is 24% (but fewer shots are controlled). A batsman with more control over straight bat shots can angle the ball into gaps more often and increase these numbers without a noticeable increase in risk.
All that is more foo for thought than any clear conclusions, but in many ways, this is what useful analysis is about: posing questions that require players to come up with effective solutions.
Speaking of which, the next part moves on to fielding.