Welcome to the Bat and Ball Brimborion.
This is a blog about numbers (mostly).
Cricket statistics (mostly).
But they could be any numbers.
Or anything else that I may feel like rambling on about.
Whatever may interest me at the time.
And, in case you are wondering:
Brimborion – n. Something useless or nonsensical. From ‘The Superior Person’s Second Book of Words’ by Peter Bowler (not the first-class cricketer).


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Are Tests cricket’s answer to baseball?

Twenty20 is cricket’s answer to baseball, is it not? Many people have suggested this. There are certain similarities: Like baseball it lasts about three hours and must have a winner. (Even a tie seems to have been outlawed in Twenty20 with the advent of bowl-outs. Why do we not have ‘extra innings’ instead?). Arguably, there are also more shots played in Twenty20 that are similar to baseball shots than in Test cricket.

But, consider two points:

Firstly, the fundamental philosophy of what constitutes an innings (or inning). In Test and first-class cricket you are in until you are out, i.e. you are in until your 10th wicket falls (unless you declare). This could occur at any time. An inning (for one team) in baseball could take 3 pitches or it could theoretically go on forever. The longest recorded inning (both teams, i.e. 6 outs) in MLB is 1 hour, 8 minutes in a game between Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers on 8 May 2004 according to the following link: http://thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/long490.html. (Which rivals ‘Bat and Ball Brimborion’ for absurd web-site names.)
Likewise an innings in Test or first-class cricket could take 10 balls or it could theoretically go on forever. The longest innings in first-class cricket is 335.2 (6-ball) overs when England scored 903-7* v Australia at The Oval in 1938.

In Twenty20 and all other limited overs games you are in until your overs are over. The end of the innings is pre-determined when it starts. So the clock, if you like, in baseball and Test cricket is the same (outs/wickets) while the clock in overs games is different. It is overs.

Secondly, consider the pace of the game. Here is an interesting stat: Using CricInfo’s ball-by-ball data we can calculate the percentage of balls on which nothing happens. No runs, no extras, no wickets. Dot balls. In Twenty20 approximately 31.0% of balls are dot balls. In 21st century Fifty50 games approximately 51.9% are dot balls. In Test cricket since 2000 nothing happens on approximately 73.3% of all balls. Retrosheet gives play-by-play data for baseball. From this we can calculate that in regular season games this century approximately 72.8% of pitches have no play, i.e. the equivalent of cricket’s dot balls. Remarkably similar to Tests, isn’t it? And a long way removed from Twenty20. So, perhaps not coincidentally to the first point, the pace of Test cricket is much closer to baseball in pace than Twenty20 is.

So there you have it. Baseball adheres to Test and first-class cricket’s fundamental philosophy of what constitutes an innings (even if it drops the ‘s’). And it is played at the same pace as Test cricket. So, even allowing for the time and result factors, Test cricket seems more like baseball than Twenty20 to me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Is the captain a good tosser?

Graeme Smith has won the toss in 30 of the 50 Tests he has had as captain (if you agree with the ICC that the ‘Super-Test’ between Australia and the World XI in 2005/06 counts). This is a success rate of 60%. Smith also has an above average ODI toss success rate with 54 out of 103 (52.4%).

As we know there is a 50% chance of winning the toss. So, it is unlikely that Smith’s success rate is as a result of skill. Far more likely is that over time it will ‘regress to the mean’, i.e. get closer to 50%.

From binomial distribution probability we can calculate that the chances of a captain in 50 Tests winning the toss between 20 and 30 times (i.e. 5 either side of the mean of 25) is 88.1%. So, Smith’s success rate while quite useful is still well within the bounds of expected probability.

Of players with 20 or more captaincies the most successful tosser in Test cricket is Lindsay Hassett with 18 toss wins out of 24 (75.0%). He is followed by Zimbabwe’s Alistair Campbell with 15 out of 21 (71.4%). Zimbabwe would have preferred a higher success rate in matches won rather than tosses won out of him. Zimbabwe won only 2 of his 21 Tests in charge.

At the other end of the scale Len Hutton won only 7 of his 23 tosses (30.4%). Ricky Ponting has won only 14 of his 37 (37.8%), but more than makes up with that in the more important measure of matches won – 29. At 78.4% this is the highest success rate in Tests.

But the man who would keep statisticians happy is Nawab of Pataudi jr. He captained India 40 times in Tests, winning the toss 20 times and losing it 20 times.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Almost making Hay when the sun shines

Greg Hay scored 99 and 95* for Central Districts against Northern Districts in a State Championship match at Hamilton last week. Two scores in the nineties in one match is pretty rare: Only 57 such occurrences in first-class cricket.

Hay also scored 98* on his first-class debut v Wellington at Wellington last season.
There are 169 players who have made a score in the nineties on first-class debut. But Hay is only the 3rd player to appear in both of these lists. He has joined West Indies Test cricketer John Holt and Tanvir Razzaq of Pakistan. Holt scored 94 on first-class debut for Jamaica v Trinidad and Tobago at Kingston in 1946 and 92 & 94* for West Indians v Baroda at Baroda in 1958/59. Tanvir Razzaq went one better than both of these by getting his two scores in the nineties on his first-class debut: 98 and 90 for Water and Power Development Authority v Lahore City at Lahore in 1984/85. You will be pleased to know that all three of these players did score first-class centuries, Holt getting 2 of his in Tests.

Holt scored 1066 runs at 36.75 in 17 Tests in the 1950s, amazingly including another 94 on debut. (Maybe one day, when I really have nothing better to do, I might research players who made the same score on Test debut and first-class debut).

Despite the title of this post, it was not likely that the sun was shining much for any of Hay’s innings. The sun is not in the habit of making too many appearances in New Zealand.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Super Mario

Mario Olivier achieved the rare feat of taking all 10 wickets in a first-class innings (10-65) for Warriors v Eagles at Bloemfontein last weekend. As has been noted this was only the 3rd time this had occurred in a South African first-class match. It was the 81st occasion of all 10 wickets in an innings in all first-class cricket.

This number excludes cases of 10 wickets in first-class matches of more than 11-a-side. The concept of playing more than 11-a-side is a 19th century one. It disappeared in the 20th century although for some reason it seems to be creeping back into the game in this century (see tour matches, super-subs, etc).

So, there is a ten-for roughly once every 600 first-class matches. But, it has become much more rare in recent history, with only 11 since 1969/70 making it closer to a once-in-2000-match occurrence in that period. Ten wickets in an innings may be regarded as being the closest cricketing equivalent of baseball’s perfect game (no runners allowed on base in the whole game). The pitcher’s perfect game in baseball is extremely rare (about 1 every 11 000 games), but the no-hitter, a lesser, but still phenomenal feat happens once every 800 games. So, perhaps the ten-for is more the equivalent of a no-hitter. Statistically anyway.

13 of the 81 ten-fors have happened at London’s 2 main grounds, with The Oval leading Lord’s by 7 to 6.

Olivier managed to be on the losing side in the match. Somewhat surprisingly, as many as 20 of the 10 wickets in an innings brigade have ended up losing the match (At least, after some initial confusion, Olivier was actually given the Man of the Match award). 52 of the ten-wicket takers have been for winning teams while 9 have been in draws. Two players actually ended up losing by an innings while taking a ten-for: James Lillywhite, 10-129 for South v North at Canterbury, 1872 (http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/1/1775.html) and Vallance Jupp 10-127 for Northamptonshire v Kent at Tunbridge Wells, 1932 (http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/14/14345.html). Olivier joined Trevor Bailey as a loser by 10 wickets in match in which he took a ten-for. Bailey took 10-90 for Essex v Lancashire at Clacton-on-Sea in 1949 (http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/14/14345.html ).

Some interesting ten-fors:
Hedley Verity 10-10 for Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire at Leeds in 1932 is the cheapest, while Eddie Hemmings 10-175 for an International XI v West Indies XI at Kingston in 1982/83 is the most expensive. John Wisden, founder of the famous Almanack, took ten wickets in an innings all bowled for North v South at Lord’s in 1850. Albert Moss took 10-28 for Canterbury v Wellington at Christchurch on his first-class debut in 1889/90. And, Tich Freeman did it three times.

Olivier also took the first 2 wickets to fall in the Cape Cobras innings in the Warriors’ next match. Thus he took 12 consecutive wickets for his team. This kind of stat is a bit difficult to research for first-class cricket, but in Test cricket I can only find one case of a player taking 12 or more consecutive wickets for a team. No prizes for guessing Jim Laker here. During his 19-90 for England v Australia at Manchester in 1956 he actually took 17 consecutive wickets. The only other cases of 10 or more consecutive wickets that I could find in Tests were: 11 by Sydney Barnes across 2 matches for England v South Africa and Australia in 1912, 11 by Anil Kumble in his 10-for match v Pakistan at Delhi in 1998/99 and 10 by Clarrie Grimmett, another reasonable leg-spinner, for Australia in 2 matches v South Africa in 1935/36.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A big turnaround

There was a remarkable Pura Cup game at the Gabba this week. Queensland bowled Victoria out for 113 and replied with 341. In the local parlance “How good is Ashley Noffke, mate?” He took 6-33 in Victoria’s innings and followed this up with 82 for Queensland. He is having a career year, having scored 448 runs at 64.00 and taken 27 wickets at 16.40 in first-class cricket so far this season. Noffke toured England with Australia in 2001 without playing in any internationals. While always being a useful batsman he was not really an all-rounder…until now.

Things started to go pear-shaped for Queensland in the second innings. Noffke and Andy Bichel were injured, seriously depleting their bowling resources. As a result Nick Jewell and Brad Hodge batted through the whole of day 3 without being parted. Their partnership was finally ended at 379, Jewell making 188 and Hodge was 286 not out when the declaration came at 581-5. Cameron White, Victoria’s captain, decided not to wait for Hodge’s 300, unlike Ricky Ponting who let Hodge score his 200 in the Test against South Africa at Perth in 2005/06 before declaring. South Africa then proceeded to save the match. But, back to the Gabba this week. Having set Queensland 354 to win, Victoria promptly bowled them out for 77 to win by 276 runs. You can find the scorecard here: http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/124/124264.html

It is pretty rare for teams to concede a first innings lead of more than 200 and win, but to do so by such a big margin is special. There have only been 2 bigger winning margins (by runs) by teams that have conceded a first innings lead over 200
in first-class cricket:

Somerset beat Yorkshire by 279 runs at Leeds in 1901. See http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/5/5740.html. This was Yorkshire’s only defeat of the season. Wisden said “... cricket history can furnish few parallels.” 106 years later there have only been 2 ‘parallels’. This week’s match and the record winning margin by a team conceding a first innings lead of 200. And guess who achieved this? Victoria. They beat South Australia by 287 runs at Melbourne in 1925/26 (http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk/Archive/Scorecards/11/11755.html). This timeless match took 8 days to complete, two of which were washed out and must have been hard work for the Victorians who finished their previous Sheffield Shield match, which took 5 days, the day before this one. They must have appreciated the rain days.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let's do it again, partner

Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis have developed a liking for batting together. Their last three partnerships in Test cricket have been: 170 v Pakistan at Karachi, 330 v New Zealand at Johannesburg and 220 v New Zealand at Centurion. All of which makes them the 4th pair to have had partnerships over 150 in three consecutive innings and the 9th pair to have consecutive partnerships over 200. Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan had a near miss of 4 consecutive partnerships over 150 when they added 319, 142, 242 and 158 in the series against India in 2005/06.

Only two other pairs have added 300 and then 200 in consecutive partnerships: Don Bradman and Bill Ponsford added 388 for the 4th wicket for Australia against England at Leeds in 1934 and then, apparently unsatisfied, went even better by adding 451 for the 2nd wicket at The Oval. And, Denis Compton and Bill Edrich in their great summer of 1947 added 370 at Lord’s and 228 at Manchester against South Africa. Compton scored 3816 runs (avg 90.85) and Edrich 3539 runs (avg 80.43) in first-class cricket in that season. These remain (and most likely will always remain) the two highest aggregates in a first-class season.

In 18 partnerships together Amla and Kallis have now added 1265 runs at an average of 74.41. They have a perfect conversion rate of fifties to hundreds with 5 hundred partnerships and no fifties (The same as Mike Atherton and Mark Butcher, incidentally). Amla has been involved in 6 century partnerships in Tests, 5 of them with Kallis.

Their average of 74.41 is in a relatively modest 19th place of all pairs with over 1000 runs together. Bradman and Ponsford, with a little help from the 2 partnerships mentioned above, average 128.40 in their 10 partnerships together. Of those with over 2000 runs together it is interesting to note that Javed Miandad and Shoaib Mohammad average the most with 91.43 from their 2103 runs. The great opening pair of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe had an average of 87.86 from their 3339 runs in 39 partnerships (including a spell of 9 consecutive partnerships over 50). And, in case you are interested, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer averaged 51.53 in their 122 partnerships.

Andy Moles and Paul Smith (Of ‘Wasted?’ fame) hold the record of 8 consecutive opening partnerships over 50 in first-class cricket while playing for Warwickshire in 1986.

And, finally, here’s a really obscure stat (brimborion):
Both of Amla and Kallis’ partnerships in the New Zealand series were in low scoring Tests. In fact, the next best partnership for either team in the series was 72*. Their 330 in the 1st Test represented 35.18% of the total match aggregate and their 220 in the 2nd Test was 31.11% of the total match aggregate. This makes them the first pair to have had a partnership of over 30% of the match aggregate of a completed Test (i.e. excluding draws) in two consecutive matches in the history of Test cricket. Ever.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cricinfo Blog

If you are interested I have done some stuff for a blog on Cricinfo. You can find some truly fascinating stuff on ducks here:


Centuries around the world

The entry about Jason Gillespie batting triple got me thinking. Which players have scored centuries in the most different competitions worldwide? And, also who has centuries in the most different countries?

Some rules are needed to define competitions. I have grouped competitions by country, i.e. Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Trophy all count under ‘Indian Domestic Competitions’. Likewise for SuperSport Series. Howa Bowl, SAA Provincial, etc as ‘South African Domestic competitions’. So, counting Test cricket and domestic competitions in the 10 ICC Full Members countries there are potentially 11 different ‘competitions’ that a player can appear in under this definition. First-class friendlies, tour matches etc are excluded.

And the winners are: Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran and Murray Goodwin. All three have made centuries in 5 different competitions. Kanhai scored 15 Test centuries, 32 for Warwickshire in the County Championship, 2 in the Sheffield Shield for Western Australia in 1961/62, 4 in the Shell Shield for his native Guyana and 3 in successive innings for Transvaal in a highly successful season in the SACBOC Dadabhay Trophy in 1974/75. Kallicharran had the same collection as Kanhai – Tests, Shell Shield, County Championship, Sheffield Shield and South Africa. His South African ones were for Transvaal and Orange Free State on the other side of the apartheid fence. Goodwin swapped Zimbabwe for West Indies in his list, scoring a century for Mashonaland v Matabeleland in his brief Logan Cup career of 2 matches. If he is aware of this list, I wonder if he is contemplating signing for Dhaka Division, Mumbai, Canterbury, Faisalabad or Jamaica on a short contract? Or, perhaps, the Chilaw Marians in Sri Lanka?

The answer to the second question of first-class centuries in most countries is Rahul Dravid and Inzamam-ul-Haq who have both scored centuries in each of the 10 Test-playing countries (West Indies counting as one country). There are a number of players with centuries in 9 different countries. By far the most interesting of these is Bob Wyatt. I have cheated a bit to include him, as his centuries in ‘Pakistan’ were made when that country was still part of India. Wyatt scored 73 of his 85 centuries in England and spread his other 12 between Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka (Ceylon as it was), Argentina (Yes … Argentina) and Ireland. He also played first-class cricket in West Indies, Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia in his days) and Burma (Myanmar) without scoring a century in any of then, although he made fifties in all three. That’s a lot of time spent on a boat representing MCC and various other teams, including Sir TEW Brinckman's XI in Argentina. His first-class career comprised 739 matches in 34 years from 1923 to 1957. He played 40 Tests for England (16 as captain) and lived to a ripe old age, dying just 12 days before his 94th birthday in 1995.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sox World Series

Good news for those of us who belong to Red Sox Nation. Last month the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the second time in fours years. They also won in 2004, having not won since 1918. This is similar to the average local bus. You don’t see one for ages and then two come along right after each other. The Red Sox appear to be good at the start of a century, having won 5 World Series between 1903 and 1918 and then none for the rest of the 20th century.

The World Series was also a triumph for cancer survivors. Both the MVP of the Series, Mike Lowell, and the winning pitcher in the clinching game, Jon Lester, have beaten the disease.

And the stat of the World Series was provided here:

The Red Sox’s closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon developed his skill with a celebratory dance. And a google search for “Papelbon dance” produced almost as many hits as either “Papelbon closer” or “Papelbon saves”. I hope he keeps up his standards in his day job next season.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A batting triple

Here is today’s quiz question: Who is the only player to have scored a Test double-century, a County Championship century and a Pura Cup century since the beginning of 2006?

Must be an Australian, right? That is a good start. The foreigner is indeed Rarely Spotted in the Pura Cup. Matty Hayden? He hasn’t played in the County Championship in that period. Ricky Ponting? Ditto. Brad Hodge? Good guess, but his Test double-century came in December 2005. Justin Langer? We are getting closer. He is the only other one with centuries in all three. But, his Test century was as small as they get: 100 not out. And, his 2 triple centuries in the County Championship don’t help for this question. So, for those of you who don’t already know the answer let me put you out of your incalculable misery: Mate, it is Jason Gillespie.

Gillespie made his famous 201* as night-watchman for Australia against Bangladesh in Chittagong in April 2006. He then added 123* for Yorkshire v Surrey at The Oval earlier this year and this week completed the set with 118* for South Australia v Tasmania at Hobart in the Pura Cup. In 128 first-class matches before the 201* he had scored 1981 runs at an average of 15.72 with a best of just 58. In 41 first-class matches since then his batting average has reached the dizzy heights of 29.02. Interestingly, this is still below his bowling average in that period which is 32.72. Which is a pity as it damages his credentials as an all-rounder.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

She's Out!

An amazing thing happened in the Women’s Provincial League match between KwaZulu-Natal and South Western Districts at Chatsworth last weekend: Johmari Logtenberg got out.

This is the first time since the 2003/04 season that she has been dismissed before January in this competition. In 2004/05 she was dismissed (for 110) on 15 January in her 5th innings of the season. She made 377 runs before being dismissed that season. In 2005/06 she was not dismissed until 1 April in her 9th and final innings of the season, having made 464 runs before this dismissal. And, last season she was not dismissed until 25 February in her 4th innings, having scored 227 runs before being dismissed.

Her career record in 29 matches in this competition is 1462 runs at an average of 146.20. She has been not out 17 times in 27 innings and scored 3 centuries and 11 fifties.

Sir Donald would be impressed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nelson, Nelson and Nelson

Pete le Grange has pointed out that Western Province lost wickets on 111, 222 and 333 in their second innings of their South African Airways Provincial Three-day Challenge match against KwaZulu-Natal at Cape Town last weekend. With the help of CricketArchive, I can reveal that, as far as can be ascertained, this is the first time in first-class cricket that wickets have fallen on each of these scores in the same innings. I wonder what Napoleon would have made of this?

In Test cricket a total of 175 wickets have fallen on 111, but a few more (186) have fallen on 112. Do players relax slightly on getting past 111? Or, as is more likely, is it pure coincidence? If you are Australian you may be interested to know that your team have only lost 23 wickets on 87 while losing 31 on 86 and 29 on 88.

There are two occasions in Test cricket where a team has lost 3 wickets on 111: South Africa v England at Lord’s, Durban in 1913/14 and England v South Africa at Lord’s (the one in London) in 1955. In the first example it was South Africa’s last three wickets of their second innings that fell on 111 to end the game, while in the second case England lost 3 wickets on 111 in their first innings. Somewhat weirdly, this match ended with South Africa losing their last two wickets in the second innings on 111 (these were the 8th and 9th wickets as Jack Cheetham did not return from retiring hurt). This one may be beyond even Napoleonic explanation.

In first-class cricket, Ireland lost 4 wickets on 111 v Derbyshire at Buxton in 1947 and Transvaal B did likewise against Rhodesia at Salisbury in 1970/71. And in 1988 at Nuneaton, Warwickshire lost 5 wickets on 222 against Lancashire. What would Richie have made of that?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

NFL at Wembley

I see the New York Giants are playing the Miami Dolphins in an NFL (American Football) game at Wembley this weekend. Is this the end of civilisation as we know it? Or, the beginning of civilization as we know it? Or both? Or neither?

West Indies Under-19

For those who may not have noticed, West Indies Under-19 lived up to their name by being bowled out for 18 by Barbados in a KFC Cup game last week. This is the lowest List A total ever.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Partnership Breakers

“He is a good partnership breaker, isn’t he?” We have all heard this statement quite often when a bowler like Sourav Ganguly or Paul Collingwood comes on to bowl. Most notably a TV commentator once said it as Collingwood was coming on to bowl. His career stats flashed on the screen. At that stage he had a career record of 0 for about 200. “So which partnership did he break then?”

So, who are the partnership breakers of Test cricket? We can work out the average partnership broken. The clear leader of bowlers with 20 or more wickets is former England captain Norman Yardley. He took 21 wickets at an average of 33.66 in 20 Tests. But more significantly the average partnership that he broke was 92.19. This is well clear of 2nd placed Viv Richards’ average of 67.18 for his 32 wickets. The top five are:

NWD Yardley (Eng)1938-195021193692.19
IVA Richards (WI)1974-199132215067.18
GA Hick (Eng)1991-200123152466.26
RR Sarwan (WI)2000-200723146563.69
CD McMillan (NZ)1997-200528170760.96

Yardley, incidentally, was also the first captain to be dismissed for 99 in a Test which he did against South Africa at Nottingham in 1947.

Paul Collingwood now has 6 Test wickets with quite a decent Average Partnership Broken of 57.16. Ganguly’s figure is a lower, but still respectable 44.53 for 28 wickets.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Strike-rates in declared 3rd innings

When teams are looking to declare in the 3rd innings and set a target it obviously helps if you can score your runs quickly. We have already seen in the earlier post which players have good averages. Now, let’s look at players for whom we have full details of balls faced in their career with over 500 runs in declared 3rd innings in Test cricket. Kumar Sangakkara has the highest strike-rate here of 64.95, followed by Inzamam-ul-Haq (63.70) and Sanath Jayasuriya (63.69). Perhaps of more interest though is the degree to which the batsman can increase his strike-rate in this situation. So, ranking these players by the difference in their 3rd innings strike-rate and their overall strike-rates the leader is Graham Thorpe, who scored 959 runs in 16 declared 3rd innings at an average of 106.55 and a strike-rate of 58.76 compared to his career strike-rate of 45.89. The following are the top five:

NameDecl 3rd innsCareerDifference
GP Thorpe (Eng)58.7645.8912.87
SC Ganguly (Ind)62.4349.6812.75
WJ Cronje (SA)55.9444.5011.44
Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pak)63.7054.009.70
Younis Khan (Pak)63.3053.759.55

At the other end of the scale Justin Langer has a strike-rate of 46.48 in declared 3rd innings, which is 7.75 lower than his career 54.23 and Herschelle Gibbs is 45.49 compared to a career 50.07. Not surprisingly, it seems that batting lower down the order when the declaration is imminent helps here rather than opening the batting when the game may still be in the balance.

If we decrease the qualification to 300 runs an interesting name appears at the top: Freshly retired Craig McMillan scored 305 runs in 5 declared 3rd innings at a strike-rate of 79.63 which is 24.71 ahead of his career strike-rate of 54.92.

And Jacques Kallis? His strike –rate is 44.08, slightly higher than his career figure of 43.13.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bradman celebration

On 6 August next year Sir Donald Bradman would have been 99 years, 345 days old had he been alive. What, you may well ask, is the significance of this? Well, 345 is 0.94 of 366 (next year being a leap year). So, Bradman would have been 99.94 years old on this day.

Now, his centenary is on 27 August 2008. But, I submit that 6 August 2008 is a far more appropriate day to celebrate the great man.

So, where’s the party?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A bit about the blog

Here are some random notes on the blog:

Clicking on the ‘View my complete profile’ link doesn’t provide anything more useful than links to other ‘Statisticians’ and ‘South Africans’ with blogs on Google’s Blogspot. Which mostly won’t be very helpful. I am not sure how I can get rid of this without deleting the profile bit.

I am planning to try to post something at least every 2 to 3 days and maybe more often.

You can post comments, but I have to ‘moderate’ them and they will only appear after I have done this. I may or may not respond to comments.

In reply to some of the comments:

I am planning on doing a follow-up on the 'Declaration Innings' with reference to strike-rates.

‘Zscore’ has neatly replied to the query from ‘Statcat’ about Inzamam-ul-Haq and run outs in the comments under ‘Milestone for first-class cricket’. I can just add that you can link to this to get more on the subject:


Basically, Imzamam is only mid-table in this department. Steve Waugh’s record of being run out only 4 times himself while his partner is run out 23 times is a big difference and a sufficiently large enough sample that one can conclude that this appears to more of a skill than pure chance, especially given that he also extends this form into ODIs.

One of my plans with the blog is to try and introduce new ways of measuring various things, or creating ways of measuring things that are not currently measured. The bit on wicket-keepers yesterday is an example. These measures may, or may not, add anything to what we know and will probably also be refined over time. Some of this stuff might be quite heavy going, but fortunately, I won’t do it too often if for no other reason than that it is usually quite a lot of work.

The good news is that tomorrow’s post is going to be very short and sweet and spectacularly meaningless - a true brimborion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is Mark Boucher the new Jack Blackham?

As we know, Mark Boucher recently broke the world record for wicket-keeping dismissals and became the first keeper to take 400 dismissals. This invariably starts people wondering about the question of who the best wicket-keeper ever is.

I don’t plan on answering that question here, but I am going to make a suggestion as to how we can create measurements that allows us to more accurately compare keepers over time.

We do not have any reliable data on dropped catches and missed stumpings, so we cannot create a ‘fielding percentage’ similar to baseball. There are two measurements that we do have of wicket-keepers: dismissals and byes conceded. For the purposes of measurement, I am going to look at dismissals as a percentage of team dismissals and byes conceded per 100 balls kept. And, although wicket-keeping purists may not like it, we can also consider batting ability. So, with apologies to the Keith Andrews and Richie Ryalls of the world, I am going to include batting average.

Now, the role of the keeper, and with it the measurements have changed over time. A lot of this is to do with the fact that keepers used to stand up to the stumps a lot more in the past than they do today. In modern cricket keepers have a higher percentage of dismissals, lower rates of conceding byes, and are expected to score more runs than in the past. The table below shows how these numbers have changed over time:

PeriodBat Avg%Dis%Byes

So, let us consider Mark Boucher and Jack Blackham. Blackham played in the first ever Test in 1877 and represented Australia in 35 Tests between then and 1894. Boucher has a dismissal percentage of 23.09, byes conceded rate of 0.65 and a batting average of 30.21. Blackham’s figures are 11.36, 1.38 and 15.63, respectively. Boucher’s figures are basically twice as good as Blackham in all departments.

My suggestion is that we create an era adjusted measure by dividing the keepers stat by the overall average of all other keepers who played in the years that they played and multiplying it by the current average (i.e.20.43 for dismissals, 0.62 for byes and 29.75 for batting from the table above).

This produces a very interesting result if we compare Boucher to Blackham. Boucher’s adjusted figures are 23.80 for dismissals, 0.61 for byes and 29.40 for batting. No great change as there, as he is currently playing. Blackham has 23.59 for dismissals, 0.79 for byes and 29.46. Which are remarkably similar, especially in dismissals and byes.

So, here are the tables for the leading 5 keepers in each of the adjusted measures (with a minimum of 20 Tests as wicket-keeper):

Percentage dismissals

GRA Langley (Aus)29.0221.92
AFA Lilley (Eng)28.5315.54
CO Browne (WI)28.1327.36
H Strudwick (Eng)27.0116.47
ATW Grout (Aus)25.0121.61

Byes conceded per 100 balls

H Carter (Aus)0.270.74
PR Downton (Eng)0.270.28
DJ Richardson (SA)0.340.33
WAS Oldfield (Aus)0.360.64
Khaled Mashud (Ban)0.360.40

Batting average

LEG Ames (Eng)63.4643.40
A Flower (Zim)56.8053.70
AC Gilchrist (Aus)49.4448.66
Imtiaz Ahmed (Pak)44.5630.45
H Carter (Aus)44.3722.97

Note that only matches where the player was the designated keeper are included. If they played as a specialist batsman this is excluded. We do not have full details for when keepers were replaced during a match, so it is assumed that the keeper kept for the whole game. This could affect the byes calculation marginally.

Note also that this does not suggest that Les Ames, for example, would average 63.46 if he were playing today. It is simply a measure compared to contemporaries, i.e. if Ames were playing today and was as far ahead of current keepers in terms of batting average as he was in his day then he would average 63.46.

Of course, we still do not have a measure for that other great skill required from modern wicket-keepers: Encouraging the bowlers. You know, the incessant “Great bowling … “ comments after each ball. Sometimes emitted mere nanoseconds before the half-volley is eased to the mid-wicket boundary. But, the TV technology whizzes may be working on this as we speak. Soon ‘Keeper-o-Meter’ will give us measurements of decibel levels, volume and quality of encouragements. And then statisticians will be able to correlate this to wickets falling.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Milestone for first-class cricket

First-class cricket reached the milestone of 50 000 matches this weekend, according to the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians list of first-class matches. The first match on this list was played in 1801. The Pura Cup match between Western Australia and New South Wales in Perth is the match that has the honour of being number 50 000 chronologically, starting a few hours after the South Australia v Victoria match on Sunday 14 October.

By comparison, Major League Baseball, in case you are interested, has seen about 193 000 games since 1871.

The 10 000th first-class match was played in 1922, 20 000 was reached in 1953, 30 000 in 1974 and 40 000 in 1992.

The 50 000 matches have taken place over about 160 000 days and, at a very rough guess, 750 000 hours.

The County Championship accounts for 20 402 (over 40%) of the matches.

Around 5 000 (10%) have been played in London alone, 2 709 of them at Lord’s.

There have been approximately 39 million runs scored and 1.5 million wickets taken in the equivalent of about 13.5 million 6-ball overs in first-class cricket to date.

Over 3 500 batsmen have been out hit wicket (14 by Arthur Milton alone, and 6 by Gavin Cowley in just 87 dismissals) and nearly 180 000 lbw. How many appeals there have been is beyond reasonable estimation.

And over 10 000 catches have been taken by subs.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do Test pitches deteriorate over 5 days?

Conventional wisdom is that Test pitches should become more difficult to bat on over the course of 5 days. Pakistan saved the Test in Lahore against South Africa relatively easily. There also appear to have been a number of successful high 4th innings run-chases in recent times.

So, the question is: Do modern Test pitches still deteriorate over 5 days as they presumably did in the past?

The short answer is yes. The table below gives the average runs per wicket by match day for Test matches that lasted exactly 5 days since the Second World War. Shorter games, and the few that have lasted longer than 5 days, in this period are excluded.


So, if anything modern Tests have a greater trend of runs per wicket steadily decreasing over the 5 days than in the past. Which suggests that pitches still behave as we would expect them to over the course of 5 days.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jacques Kallis: Master of the declaration innings

Jacques Kallis likes batting in the 3rd innings of a Test when South Africa are setting up a declaration.

His 107* in South Africa’s 2nd innings against Pakistan at Lahore yesterday is the 5th century that he has made in the 3rd innings of a match in which South Africa has declared. In all, he has batted 19 times in these situations and scored 1264 runs with 5 centuries and 6 fifties. With the help of 10 not outs, he averages 140.44 in these innings.

Only Matthew Hayden has more runs and centuries in 3rd innings that have been declared. He has scored 1352 runs and 8 centuries in 18 innings in this situation. As an opening batsman, he has been less adept at collecting asterisks when the declaration is imminent than Kallis and his average is a mere 79.52 by comparison.

Another master of 3rd innings declaration innings was Garry Sobers. In 10 innings he scored 906 runs at a useful average of 181.20. Like Kallis he has 5 centuries.

And, in case you are wondering what Don Bradman did in these situations: 3 innings, 241 runs, average 120.50, 1 century and 1 fifty.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Peter Bowler's brimborion

I found the word ‘brimborion’ in a book by Peter Bowler, an Australian lexicographer. Not to be confused with Peter Bowler the first-class cricketer.

But this reminded me of the main contribution that Peter Bowler (the first-class cricketer, not the Australian lexicographer) made to cricket’s reservoir of trivia. Or, cricket’s reservoir of brimborion if you prefer. Bowler was the first player to score a century on first-class debut for two different counties. He scored 100* for Leicestershire v Hampshire at Leicester in 1986 and then 155* for Derbyshire v Cambridge University at Cambridge in 1988. In 1995 he made his first-class debut for his third county, Somerset, and made a bold effort to add them to the list before running out of partners on 84* in the 2nd innings v Glamorgan at Taunton.

Three players, Jonathan Lewis (Essex and Durham), Neil Taylor (Kent and Sussex) and Andrew Symonds (Gloucestershire and Lancashire) have subsequently joined Bowler in this rare feat.

In South African first-class cricket there are three players who have made a century on debut for two different provincial teams (excluding ‘B’ teams). They are Ken Viljoen (Orange Free State and Transvaal), Terence Lazard (Western Province and Boland) and Arno Jacobs (North West and Eastern Province). Lazard is the most interesting here, as he also scored a century on his overall first-class debut which was for Western Province B. His 307* on debut for Boland v Western Province at Worcester in a pre-season friendly in 1993/94 single-handedly put an end to first-class status for pre-season friendlies.

One final point on Bowler: In an interview with Wisden Cricketer Monthly on his retirement from first-class cricket he said that he regarded an innings of 14 that he made for Derbyshire v Warwickshire in Birmingham in 1992 as the best of his career. Yes, 14! He opened the batting with an hour to go on the first day on a green-top against a rampant Allan Donald. He was 8* overnight out of 21-5 and Donald finally knocked him over for 14 the next morning. The man scored nearly 20 000 first-class runs with 45 centuries and yet regards an innings of 14 as his best. Such are the real joys of cricket.