Do catches win matches? Maybe not, if you’re a Black Cap

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    Deccan Chargers Rohit Sharma, left, makes an unsuccessful attempt to catch the ball after Royal Challengers Bangalore's Jacques Kallis plays a shot, during their 2009 Indian Premier League cricket final match in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday May 24, 2009. AP Photo/Aman Sharma

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    The old cricket adage ‘catches win matches’ is synonymous with an afternoon out in the field, but a recent New Zealand study indicates the phrase might be nothing more than a myth.

    The study, which was conducted by researchers University of Canterbury, analysed 122 one-day international cricket matches between February 2011 and July 2012.

    The research was conducted by honours student Marcus Downs and supervised by economics and finance lecturer Dr Seamus Hogan.

    It involved classifying all the opportunities for a fielding dismissal – catch, run out or stumping – with a degree of difficulty based on the ball-by-ball commentary on the ESPN Cricinfo website.

    The researchers then analysed the contribution those opportunities could have made to the overall performance of the team.

    For New Zealand cricket fans, the results go against the old cliche, with the Black Caps ranking highest for taking catches and effecting run outs during the period but being the worst-performed team out of the eight ICC nations that were analysed.

    “While obviously a brilliant catch or run-out can sometimes turn a match, we found that, in ODI cricket at least, fielding was not as vital as batting or bowling,” Hogan said.

    “Specifically, according to our data, good bowling can contribute about three times as much as good fielding to the performance of the team, and good batting even more.

    “Over the period of our database, New Zealand ranked first out of all the major cricketing nations in taking catches and effecting run outs, once the degree of difficulty of the catch or run out was taken into account.

    “Despite this, however, over the same period, the Black Caps had the worst record in ODI cricket of all the major cricketing nations.”

    The results of the cricketing summer scholarship will be presented at a public event at the University of Canterbury campus on February 8.

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • January 31st 2013 @ 9:48am
      Allanthus said | January 31st 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      I had to check the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. This is a crock on so many levels.

      – what passes for honours or doctorate level research in NZ these days? Surely not this tripe? Far more credible to open up a packet of cornflakes and pull your degree out that way.

      – using ball by ball commentary on Cricinfo as a scientific/credible basis for data analysis? ie someone else’s interpretation on something that they are watching, maybe on TV in some cases. What level of control do they have over the consistency and accuracy of this information? How do they quantify “degree of difficulty”? Maybe if the Cricinfo scribe uses “DROPPED!” instead of “missed chance” that’s a higher degree of difficulty? Or maybe lesser?

      – is a high outfield catch more or less difficult than a sharp slips catch? Again, how could they possibly quantify this?

      – good bowling and batting is more influential to a result than good fielding? Well knock me over with a feather…

      This makes Tony Grieg’s player comfort meter look like NASA control centre…

    • January 31st 2013 @ 11:13am
      Bayman said | January 31st 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report


      I’m not sure what I found funnier – the original article or your response. As you correctly point out, the article does not exactly fall under the category of “scientific study”. Perhaps New Zealand took all their catches but the bowlers only created a handful of chances for the fieldsmen so they got belted.

      I’d be quietly confident that if a team missed all their chances they would not win too often. How the gurus in NZ interpret that is anybody’s guess. By the way, what ever happened to Griegy’s comfort meter?

      • January 31st 2013 @ 11:38am
        Allanthus said | January 31st 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        Bayman, it would be great if it became a museum piece – I’d imagine that a Roarer, or someone at Nine or one of his mates knows where it is and that it was much talked about at the funeral/wake. Alternatively, respectfully laid to rest with the big man himself…

        I still can’t get over someone wasting hours of time on this rubbish, and a lecturer wasting his time to advise and moderate… and being paid for it no less…

        As you suggest – perhaps NZ has more run outs than other sides because James Franklin isn’t exactly running through sides, blasting out middle stump at 124kms???

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