This is part two of the cricket season in review. This article looks at batting first in 50 over Premier Club cricket.
The average score for West batting first was 184: An under-par number compared to 197 overall for the league in the last two seasons. West are in ninth position from 12 teams by average score.
This happened for two reasons.
First, when West scored big, the scores were relatively low. The four high scores of the season are 16th, 28th, 29th and 38th highest. Seven teams had at least one better high score, Ferguslie had five, Stirling had three, and Poloc had two. West had none of the 13 scores over 250 or four scores over 300.
Second, during under-performing innings, the scores were relatively worse. Two scores in the bottom six places show when a collapse started, it wasn’t stopped.
Anatomy of setting a target
Looking at the better scores, working out how those runs were scored will allow us to decide how to improve next year.
Tactically, the broad approach batting first was to build an innings for 40 overs then attack in the last 10 if wickets were in hand. The aim at the start of the season was to score 216 or more, as this provided a strong chance of winning. Here is the breakdown of the biggest scores and results:
As you can see, there is not much relationship between overall score and the result. Losing after scoring over 225 twice, but winning scoring 195. You can also see no correlation between the result and other indicators of the innings: control%, strike rotation, runs per wicket or runs per over. Boundaries was a slight indicator of success with both games where more than 15 boundaries score resulted in a win.
So, a side note here: While it is helpful to understand ball-park figures, it’s clear that there is no help from relying on target scores. Opposition can chase down more and fail to chase fewer runs.
Breaking down the innings highlights shows the tactical approach:
On average, after a brisk opening, the score accelerates from 66-2 from 20 to 103-3 from 30, 149-5 from 40 to finish on 217. The pattern of acceleration can also be seen in rate of scoring shots and boundaries.
How does this break down to individual batsman?
These are the top scoring batsman, setting a target. You can see Seashot, Abacus and Mayor were the set-up men (going at under four per over) while Kodak, Northflood, Cobra and Bluecall all played increasingly attacking roles up to nearly 5.5. Lower order batsman Bridge and Winter also chipped in with 110 runs between them.
The batsmen who attack more also have a higher RpSS (Runs per Scoring Shot). The batsmen who defend more tend to try and rotate the strike to make up the difference. The difference in style between, say, Bluecall and Abacus is clear.
This also throws out some interesting individual development points. Northflood has a high RpSS (2.26) but plays fewer shots than Abacus (1.49). This suggests more of Northflood’s attacking shots go for boundaries, and Abacus rotates the strike better. The two could perhaps learn from each other about their difference of approach.
You can also start to see the seeds of an issue: 64% of runs off the bat were scored below a useful rate. Seashot and Abacus are the extreme examples of this: averaging 25 runs per game below the rate needed to get past 216 as a team. Even when you combine the efforts of Kodak, Cobra and Bluecall going at a faster rate, they are unable to catch up.
Make up the difference. Ask attacking batsmen score more quickly and have set up batsmen face fewer dots. Or have more attacking batsmen. Either way, it’s a greater intent to score.
We can see this in action in some specific games:
West vs Clydesdale.
West vs Meigle.
Stirling vs West.
In the first game West scored 213 runs off the bat (the rest in extras). The top six scored 197 in 287 balls (4.11 per over). Abacus top scored with 75. He came in an expected set up position: 63-2 from 15 overs (about -7 on Runs Added) thanks to the work of Seashot, Mayor and Northflood.
Abacus’ Runs Added chart reveals an innings of three parts: slow first 70 balls, acceleration by strike rotation for 16 balls and a big finish. This is expected and, in many ways, classic batsmanship. You can also see there is still room for additional runs without additional risk.
Runs Added (or R+) is a way of measuring batting performance compared to the average batsman in the league. Higher the number, the more runs the batsman has added. You can see from the above, most of the innings the R+ was in minus numbers between -9 and -5. Then there was a jump up to around -2 for a few balls before some boundaries took the final analysis into the black.
As a comparison, West’s Scottish Cup game Meigle was very different:
The innings was dominated by two attacking batsmen. This slice of the innings is when or the other was in. The R+ hovered around 0 for about 70 balls before quickly moving up to over +20. At peak it was over +47 and the final score was 263. If it had been a league game, it would have been the 10th best score of the season.
There is one more innings to compare:
This is Stirling’s entire innings against West at Stirling. As you can see, it is far more classical in approach, sitting at minus for the first third, having a small jump up in the second third and then a fast acceleration to the end where 122 runs were score in 94 balls. The final score was 263.
The key point with both these latter innings is the slow portion was less slow and the final push was greater than West managed.
So, there is an opportunity for West to better balance the tactical approach. Either with a Meigle style attack through the innings, or the more traditional build to a final push style done with more pace.
That is a tactical decision for the captain and batting unit to consider and practice over the winter, but as the evidence suggests, it is something that is possible with the right batsmen and mindset.
In the next part we will examine the batting collapses of the season to try and prevent future ones.