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The Roar

Chris Kettlewell

Roar Guru

Joined August 2013

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One thing that often comes up when comparing different times is whether there were more batsmen averaging higher in those days because we had more quality batsmen or because it was just a period of having more flat decks in the Shield. But I think the fact that most of those who did make it into test cricket also thrived there suggests it is likely the former, that we were just producing better batsmen.

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

Hobart is similar. It’s very dry in total rainfall, but would definitely have a lot more rainy days than Sydney. But rainfall is rarely as heavy, so when it rains you get less rainfall.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

The big negative for Shakhib is that he’s a more standard “bitsa” type allrounder. The all time great allrounders were the best, or among the best in their team, or even in the world in one of their disciplines. Sobers and Kallis are among the best batsmen of all time quite apart from being allrounders. Imran Khan and Keith Miller both averaged around 22 with the ball, which puts them at the top echelon of test bowlers.

The “bitsa” allrounder is someone who’s decent with both bat and ball, but if you took their individual batting and bowling records, they certainly wouldn’t be among the best at that, in fact, they’d probably struggle to keep their spot in the team long term on either record alone with batting averages under 40 and bowling averages of over 30 doesn’t support them being fully quality world class players at either discipline alone, just the combination of these makes them very useful.

Ben Stokes batting average is lower than Imran Khan’s career average, yet Stokes averages 31 with the ball compared to Imran’s 22. Massive difference, not even the same ball park. Shakhib’s batting average is slightly higher at 39, but also averages around 31 with the ball. So I wouldn’t put him near Imran based on that.

Also, when you consider that most players have a bit of a drop-off towards the end of their careers, comparing stats mid-career with players who’ve completed their careers always needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

Pretty tough to compare batting allrounders to bowling allrounders. Guys who have bowling averages in the low 20’s and batting averages in the mid-to-high 30’s are incredible players, just as batsmen with averages well over 50 and bowling averages in the 30’s are.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

That is certainly a good point. Someone gets completely lost and doesn’t get a hand on a catch that should be a sitter, so it doesn’t count as a dropped catch but then someone else makes an amazing effort and manages to just get fingertips to a ball and then it goes down as a dropped catch even though there was really no chance to catch it, getting fingertips on it is the best anyone could have done. Hence, it becomes a subjective stat, someone’s opinion on whether they “should” have caught it or not. Any stats that have a subjective nature to them can’t really be official stats.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

Lots of these stats are used in unofficial ways by coaches to analyse things, and sometimes by broadcasters, but it’s hard to make them official. For instance, runs saved is quite arbitrary as you say. At what point have I saved a run? If the ball was hit straight at me and I field it comfortably and no run is scored, but if I wasn’t there it would have gone for four, have I saved runs? Or do I only get the credit if I had to make a really good effort to save it? If so, at what point is that effort considered enough to count as saving runs?

You would think that there are certainly some stats that could be kept. Like dropped catches, so you can know what percentage of catches were taken. Run-out’s are certainly something that could be recorded. Assisted and unassisted run outs could even be separate categories. But it’s hard to go much beyond those.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

That’s where the ICC Rankings thing can be good, because it takes into account a lot of these different conditions into the rankings points. However, it’s also only about how good a player was at the best point of their career, not over the whole career. Would be interesting if someone could do a similar sort of calculation in a way to include the entire career to compare complete career against complete career rather than just point in time.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

I think it changes depending on results. If their positives are helping their team win a lot more games than their negatives are contributing to the team losing games, then they’ll be viewed of in a positive light.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

Don’t know about that. There are a few South African’s who’s test careers were cut short by South Africa’s shunning who are held in almost mythical esteem.

If people are genuinely talking about who the best allrounders of all time are, not just comparing two players, like this article largely is, then Kallis well and truly gets in the conversation. Kallis is undeniably one of the greatest cricketers of all time, and it’s really only between Kallis and Sobers for the argument of the best batting allrounder of all time. Nobody else is close.

But to be honest, I think flair comes into it a bit too. Often the players we love to talk about as the greats are ones that also had some real flair to their play that just made you want to watch. While Kallis always just felt like he was the sort of player who, while being incredibly effective, just didn’t have that flair about his play to make him the sort of player people just want to tune in to watch. I think that’s a big thing that works against him.

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

I don’t think you have too many Australian players like that. Most of the Aussies who travel around the world playing different T20 leagues are the players who these days are just T20 specialists, guys like Dan Christian and Chris Green. Don’t know too many Aussie players who play in these leagues all over the place and are ever talked about in regards to test selection.

Other countries that’s a different story. Places like the West Indies have had major issues over the years with not paying their players. It’s no wonder that so many of their top players choose the T20 circuit which can reliably pay them to play cricket, than playing first class cricket in the West Indies where you never know if you are even going to get paid at all.

How to fix cricket's over-crowded schedule

He was a good player, Jamie Cox, but averaged 42 in an era where there were a number of players averaging over 50. As a late teenager I played in the same club for a few years, though playing in lower grades, never actually played with him. Yet one day he said hello to me by name. I was rather shocked he even had any idea who I was. State players like Cox and Hills were away more than they were around. Yet clearly he still took an interest in young players in the lower grades of the club to actually know who I was. I always respected him even more for that.

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

I believe at this point it’s suspended largely because of positive cases with players and support staff – ie positive cases inside the bubble. So they are isolating people and hoping it won’t spread further. I believe one thing they are considering is hosting it in a single location, a bit like the first part of the Sheffield Shield season here all being held together in Adelaide. I don’t get why they even bothered flying them around the country to different venues in the first place when they are playing to empty stadiums. If the stadiums are empty, what difference does it make where they play!

But yes, can’t see how they could remotely consider keeping the T20WC in India later this year. When COVID has got as bad as it has it’s going to take significant time to bring it under control no matter how drastic the measures taken. They really need to make that call soon.

IPL suspended as more Aussie cricketers go into isolation

Basically, statistics are undeniable facts. What inferences you make from them on the other hand…

Lies and damn lies: Cricket’s debatable statistics

I did feel for Maddinson when he was picked for his test debut. Clearly the selectors liked him, but at the time he made his test debut he wasn’t even in form at first class level. Picking out of form players like that is just setting them up to fail, and leaves the enduring impression of Maddinson being someone completely out of his depth at test level. (He got a few pretty good balls in those three tests it must be said! Not much went for him!)

But that being said, if we are looking as far as Maddinson, I think it’s a suggestion that our batting stocks are pretty bare.

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

Yeah, and it suggests that he probably only really scores when someone bowls him a genuine bad ball, then he manages to hit it to the boundary a decent percentage of the time. But the higher up the levels he goes, the less genuine bad balls he’s going to get. Playing out some maidens is fine, but maiden after maiden becomes an issue. A batsman has to find ways to turn over the strike and tick over the scoreboard against good bowling that isn’t giving them any genuine bad balls to score off.

Of course, the other option could be that he gets a lot of edges that get past the slips and go to the vacant third man boundary. I haven’t really watched him bat much, so can’t tell you if that’s part of it or not!

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

One of the big issues when it comes to replacing Warner is with who? I’ve heard so many people talk like Warner shouldn’t be picked for away tours, just pick him in Australia, but most of the potential replacements have first class records that are worse than Warners away record. You cite Warners 2019 Ashes, but the other two openers used in that series, Harris and Bancroft, averaged 9.6 and 11 respectively. So it’s not like they were any better. And that’s the problem. If we had some high quality openers pushing for the spot then his position might be at risk. But last summer was a good example. Warner was rushed back too early from injury because the team were desperate as without Warner we simply didn’t have any viable options for opening the batting.

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

Kurtis Patterson’s form over the last couple of years, basically since he played his two tests, has been really poor. Will take more than a few good games to start the season to put him in contention again. Can’t see Maddinson really being in contention either. He’s scored some runs on a few Victorian roads over the last couple of years, but I still think he’s a fair way from being seriously considered for test cricket. Renshaw also, needs a bit more than just a few good games to start the season. If he has a really good Shield season then he can maybe push himself into contention for the following summer, but not next year.

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

I’m not a big fan of the Bryce Street call. Defensive technique or not he has to work out how to score or he’ll end up being like Renshaw was when he played his first couple of tests and just couldn’t score or even turn over the strike. Guys like Chris Rogers and Pujara, noted for their defensive style of batting still have test strike rates over 45. Street has a first class strike rate of 30, and he’s going to get even less bad balls to score off in test cricket than first class cricket. If you never get off strike, and never put any pressure back on the bowlers, then test quality bowlers are going to cause you problems, and this will put lots of extra pressure on the guy at the other end to score faster.

He may have a future at the higher level, but he’s at least a couple of years off that. At least.

Who should bat at five for Australia in the Ashes?

The massive explosion in COVID certainly happened after the tournament started. Which is why so many of the players felt okay heading over there. Though I believe, from what’s come out, that there was a fair bit of dishonesty from the Indian government in pretending things were a lot better than they actually were. Pretty sure Modi actually declared that India had defeated the Pandemic earlier in the year, then held crowded election rallies and things. My guess it they were trying to convince people they’d done a good job so they would vote for them and they could win the election before everyone realised they’d been lied to.

Is playing cricket in COVID really a welcome distraction?

Geologists will make it clear that climate change is something very real and happens. Because there are geological records of lots of climate change over the millenia.

So whether you are talking about denying that there’s any climate change happening or questioning how much of a contribution to climate change is from humans and how much is just a natural changing of the climate those are two different things. Of course, if it’s more of the latter it probably reduces how much we can do it.

But in the end, most of the sorts of changes done to try and combat climate change are worth doing anyway. Even if climate change isn’t mostly man-made, if we can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and have cleaner air, surely there’s plenty of positives in that, even if we couldn’t do anything about the climate changing itself.

Cricket must start preparing for climate change

I think the scientists that completely deny Climate Change altogether are pretty few and far between. But I do think there’s probably a big variation on understanding of how severe climate change will be, how much we can do about it, what the outcome will be. Certainly, I’m sure there are plenty who aren’t in the “I think now is the time to PANIC!” camp!

Cricket must start preparing for climate change

I don’t believe anyone is suggesting that climate change would result in 9 degree temperature increases at any point. Then main talk is only a couple of degrees total, but the inferences as to what that means varies. I think the temperature increase often has more to do with the overnight lows not dropping as low rather than the daytime highs getting significantly higher. (The carbon in the atmosphere keeping the heat in more, so it doesn’t cool as quickly once the Sun goes down).

Cricket must start preparing for climate change

I suspect the easiest would have been the UAE again where they did last time. But other options would be fine also. Just need to play basically in the Indian time-zone. So playing in QLD would mean basically playing through the middle of the night to be in prime-time in India. Maybe WA could manage it. Would probably be easier to play somewhere west of India though, so they just play earlier in the day to get games on at prime time in India rather than playing really late into the night.

But yes, there would have been plenty of better options out there than playing in India. Basically anywhere!

Is playing cricket in COVID really a welcome distraction?

Sure, $375k is a massive pay day for most people. But are you really saying you wouldn’t take a totally legitimate opportunity to earn 5 times your annual salary in 2 months?

Sure, you often get players in different sports who elect to take less at their current club, to stay loyal and stay within the system and with the players and coaching staff they know and love, than take more money to leave. But that’s probably more like $800k to stay v $1m to leave, not $300k to stay v $1m to leave. Let alone if it’s just some other comp offering you that money for a short off-season tournament where you can still remain at your main club for the main season. Which is more akin to this.

Sport is a fickle thing. You never know when that career ending injury might come along. I don’t think it’s fair to use terms like Mercinary for players who are just taking opportunities to earn a living playing sport while they can.

And Hazlewood and others who chose to forgo the IPL didn’t do it out of loyalty to their states, they did it out of either worry over the COVID situation, or simply bubble fatigue and not wanting to spend another couple of months in a really tight bubble but rather have that time at home.

I do agree that the BBL does feel too long. Definitely get a fatique by the end. Need to pack in a lot more double headers and finish it with the final around Australia Day. Drop back to 4 teams finals and ditch one finals game too. Crowd numbers are an interesting thing. In some ways they were always going to settle back down after the initial burst of the first few seasons. But also, with a lot more games being played, you probably find a lot of people going to a similar number of games, so the crowd is just spread a bit more. I have a feeling the total tournament crowd is still more than earlier seasons, just less on a “per game” basis. So make of that what you will.

How to fix cricket's over-crowded schedule

Yeah, positivity rates that high are incredible. The positivity rates are a good indicator of how good the testing is. The more widespread the testing, the lower the positivity rates. When rates are that high it generally suggests that the only people tested are likely people who are already very sick with it and they are pretty sure already have it and therefore pretty much guarantees that the actual rates of infection are dramatically higher. When you have situations like Australia where the percentage of positive tests is less than 1% then it’s reasonable to believe that a very high percentage of infected people have been tested and thus the numbers are likely quite accurate. I heard one suggestion that the reality in India could well be closer to half a billion infections and the actual COVID deaths more than 5 times higher than the reported number.

Is playing cricket in COVID really a welcome distraction?