Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CB Series: India On The Brink In A Bowler's Game

India are on the brink in the CB Series. They managed to stay in the series due to a blistering batting performance that broke many records and elevated Virat Kohli from the ranks of one of India's up and coming batsmen, to the A-list of contemporary Indian batsmanship. It moved him from being in competition for a spot in the ODI XI with the likes of Suresh Raina to claiming a spot besides Yuvraj Singh as one of the world's pre-eminent middle order men (see this as an alternative) in the shorter format of the contemporary game. Kohli's Test runs at Perth and Adelaide in addition to his ODI heroics make this a triumphant Australian tour for at least one Indian player.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dhoni Devastating Criticism Of Nasty Brett Lee

I should preface this by saying that this has nothing to do with the result of the game. Given how poor India's bowling has been and how indifferent their batsmen's footwork has been, I think Australia were allowed 50 runs too many (because of rank bad bowling mainly), and that even while chasing 200, India might still have struggled, regardless of what happened with Tendulkar.

But this is about cricket, not winning or losing. Cricket is about standards in my view.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Obstructing The Field: The Umpires Were Right.

Update As Russell Degnan of idlesummers points out, Law 37 does not apply when the ball is stopped by a hand other than the one touching the bat. (See Law 37(1) quoted below). However, Law 33, Handling the Ball, does apply as Spark of QED suggested. In the case of Law 33, 33(2) works in the batsman's favor. While Obstructing the Field does not apply when the batsman pats the ball away with his free hand, Handling the Ball does, provided it is established beyond reasonable doubt that the batsman was taking evasive action.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mankading - II

Virender Sehwag revealed that Ravichandran Ashwin did warn Lahiru Thirimanne before "mankading" him. However, in the same article, it is revealed that this was not apparent to the viewers, or to the Umpires because Ashwin didn't actually try to run him out (and demonstrate to Thirimanne or the Umpire that Thirimanne was backing up too far) before doing it. The warning, had it been offered, should have been made clear to the Umpire. This episode is an interesting one because in some ways, it goes to the heart of the sport. Subash Jayaraman likens mankading to base stealing in baseball. Duckingbeamers wonders whether there is anything beyond the text. My friend Amogh raised an interesting point about the law itself in his comment to my previous post on this issue.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mankading

Law 42(15) says the following
The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is succesful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible.
Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne was caught backing up too far by Ravichandran Ashwin in the 40th over of Sri Lanka's innings at Brisbane. The young Indian off-spinner took the bails off and appealed. The Umpire would have had no choice but to uphold the appeal.

Quite sensibly, the Umpires sought confirmation from India's captain that India were indeed appealing under Law 42 (Fair and Unfair play). Virender Sehwag, captaining on the day, decided against it after consulting with Sachin Tendulkar, his senior professional.

The reactions have been mixed. There are those who think that India shouldn't have been quite so forgiving as a matter of principle. Others think India shouldn't have been quite so forgiving given that Thirimanne was well set and his wicket at that point in time would have hurt Sri Lanka badly. Still others think that India did the right thing. A few people see India's decision to withdraw the appeal as a symptom of some competitive short coming - the proposition is that maybe India don't want to win badly enough.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ricky Ponting

For the next couple of years, we will see Ricky Ponting only in Test Cricket. Australia's selectors have decided to try a new player in Ponting's place with an eye on the 2015 World Cup. The selectors' decision was conveyed with at lot of grace, and Ponting, in turn was honest enough to accept that he had been dropped. While he was not retiring in any conventional sense of the word, he accepted that his illustrious ODI career was over.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dhoni's view of India's weaknesses

His comments to the press after India's loss to Australia at Brisbane are stunning. Does M S Dhoni really believe that the reason to not play India's 3 senior batsmen is that they will cost India 20 extra runs in the field? This is remarkably narrow minded. As if runs are only leaked because of bad fielding. Here's more than 20 runs that India would not have conceded had their bowler's not delivered rank long hops. Every bowler will get it wrong occasionally, but the number of runs that India conceded by bowling it short and wide, or merely short, to be square cut or pulled - those are the worst, and most easily avoidable kinds of runs that a side can concede. Basically, those are gifts, free hits - where there is nearly zero risk of dismissal on a good wicket with reasonably predictable bounce and carry. A batsman won't be bowled, won't be LBW, won't be caught at the wicket because the bat is not vertical, unless he's horribly unlucky.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Test Batting Away From Home 1990-2012

Yesterday I posted Test batting records of visiting batsmen in Australia after excluding performances at Sydney and Adelaide, which are traditionally considered to be the best batting grounds in that country. This type of view develops over a number of years and get reinforced by successive wickets at these grounds. While Sydney, at times, has shown itself to be a new ball wicket, Adelaide has rarely been a quick bowler's dream.

In this post, I will generalize the idea for the period from January 1, 1990 onwards. I have done the following:

1. I looked at all the cricket grounds that have hosted Test Matches since January 1, 1990, and organized these according to the visitors' batting average at each ground.

2. I created two separate lists. In the first list, I included all the grounds where the visitors batting average was 32.5 runs per wicket or below. In the second, I included all the grounds where visitors batting average was above 32.5 runs per wicket.

3. I then compiled two lists of batsmen. The first list included all batsmen who had scored at least 1000 runs in Away Tests played at venues where the visitors' batting average was 32.5 runs per wicket or less. In the second, I added these players record in Away Tests at grounds where visiting batsmen had scored more than 32.5 runs per wicket.

The table is available below.

Before arriving at the 32.5 figure, I tried a number of other thresholds. In Test Cricket since January 1 1990, I found that a visiting team loses a Test Match 52% of the time when it scores32.5 runs per wicket (or 650 runs for 20 wickets) or less, while it loses only 26% of the time when it scores more than 32.5 runs per wicket.

The 32.5 runs per wicket measure should not be seen merely as a measure of the flatness of the wicket. It is, rather, a measure of the general difficulty of the conditions of play - which involve a combination of the strength of the opposing team, the strength of the opposing bowling, the quality of the wicket etc.

Cumulatively, I found the 65 batsmen who have scored at least 1000 runs in Away Tests in conditions where visiting teams have scored 32.5 runs per wicket or less, on average, scored 40 runs per completed innings (this is the conventional batting average) and survived 82 balls per dismissal. The same batsmen, in Tests where visiting teams scored more than 32.5 runs per wicket, scored 52 runs per completed innings and survived 101 balls per dismissal.

The table below is sorted by Batting Average in the first case (32.5 runs/wicket or less). Note that Andy Flower, who tops the list has made 1726 runs at 66.38 at grounds where all visiting batsmen, from all visiting teams, in all positions in the batting order have made on average 32.5 runs/wicket or less. So he is being measured not in relation to his Zimbabwean team mates, but in relation to all visiting batsmen who batted at those grounds from January 1, 1990 onward.

Only 5 batsmen average 50 in both cases during this period - Flower, Samarweera, Cook, Tendulkar and Saeed Anwar. Damien Martyn is the next best player on the list, while Chris Gayle is surprising prolific.

The Survival Rate (SuR) figure reveals at least as much as the batting average statistic. Sehwag, Gayle, Gilchrist and Jayasuriya appear as anomalies. They have poor survival rates in both cases (under 70 in all cases). Nearly all grounds in Australia feature in the first list, while nearly all grounds in Bangladesh feature in the second list.

This method gives rise to the possibility of a number of interesting analyses. One of the things I hope to do in the future is to develop an adjusted batting average. If you notice in the table below, some players play a far higher percentage of their Away Tests in conditions where visiting batsmen have struggled than others. For example, Michael Atherton played 68 out of his 78 Away innings at difficult venues (about 87%). while Tendulkar and Dravid have played 71% of their Away innings (108 out of 152 in each case) in difficult conditions. For this, the notion of "difficult" conditions - for example, is 32.5 really a better threshold than say 35 for Away batting? - as well as a few other distinctions need to be considered.

More on this later.

Full table after the jump

Test Batting In Australia

Australia is an interesting Test Match venue. The wickets are usually good for stroke making (especially against the old ball). Drawn Tests are rare. In the period in question in this post (January 1, 1990 onward), 104 out of 128 Tests have produced results. Adelaide and Sydney have typically been considered to be the two best batting wickets in Australia. The two ground have seen the highest number of draws, the highest match batting averages, and the highest overseas batting averages. Here is how the the most prolific visiting batsmen have fared in Australia.

I have added a statistic called Survival Rate (SuR), which is a measure of the deliveries faced per dismissal.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

New Ranji Points System As Applied To 2011-12

This is what the Ranji Trophy Elite Group league would have ended up as, using the points system I proposed in my previous post. The fields are as follows:

Current P - Points actually alloted in the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy season (the teams with the Current P in bold are the ones who qualified for the knockout stage)
W Conc. - Wickets conceded by team while batting
W Tak. - Wickets taken by team while bowling
% W C - Percentage of the total available wickets conceded (20 per match total)
% W T - Percentage of the total available wickets taken (20 per match total)
%WIM - The percentage of the total possible number of wickets (40) that fell per match

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ranji Trophy Points System

As I have previously argued, the Ranji Trophy points system, which provides 60% of the value of an outright win for first innings leads, provides perverse incentives for teams to prepare very flat wickets, and make it worth a teams while to bat very long and very slow. It has resulted in teams entering Ranji Trophy games with the singular ambition of attaining the first innings lead. This has been the case for at least a couple of decades.

In this post I propose a method of allocating points in the Ranji Trophy. This is in addition to the other changes I proposed in the post linked above, and a modification of the idea of allocating a point for a draw (irrespective of leads) and 3 points for a outright win. As some readers pointed out in the excellent comments I received for that post, this provides an incentive for weak teams to prepare very flat wickets and get at least one point (and concede only 1 point) for a draw.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

On Tests of Character

At the end of the 2nd days play at Dubai, Alistair Cook told reporters the following
"We have had our struggles on this tour and it is going to take some serious character from the top six to turn it around. I know we've got the players in there. But there's only so many times you can keep saying that - we're going to have to get out there and do it."
Cricinfo's report, written by George Dobell (a reporter with doubtful understanding of DRS, I'll explain why in a minute) is entitlted "England face test of character - Cook". In a recent story about DRS related problems, Dobell wrote the following: "So is the DRS flawed? Or is the problem with the individuals using it?" - a casual throw away question to end a modest paragraph which conveys only one thing - that Dobell does not have a clue about the DRS. The DRS is the "individuals using it", just as it is the technologies in it, and just as it is the relationship between the individuals and the technology using it.