23 July 2007

(Yet) more on batting averages...

As John originally posted about, a theoretical argument for working out batting averages in a different way to try to take into account the lower risk of being out at the end of your innings the lower in the batting order you bat has been put forward.

Dave (as a lower order batsman himself), clearly felt that this way of calculating a batsman's average was unfair on lower order batsmen because they are often going well and then have to end their innings not out, only to have to play themselves in again the following innings. He felt that even if lower order batsmen are truly considered not out for the purposes of working out their average, no matter how many balls they have faced, they have the disadvantage of having to "start again" rather than being able to take advantage of the fact they have played themselves in like a top order batsman would.

This, along with the disjointed nature of the current England v India Test match, got me thinking. Every time the players come off for rain or bad light, or even at the end of a day's play, the batsmen have to play themselves back in again. Given that I assume it's a given that batsmen find it easier to bat the longer they have been in (up until a certain point when fatigue kicks in), shouldn't an innings that has involved 4 restarts gain greater reward than the same innings total scored all in one go?

That way a lower order batsman who is regularly not out is given reward, in that he gains greater value for his runs given that he has had to restart. No balls faced issues - just number of restarts, including not outs. And it is equally applicable to every batsman no matter where they bat in the order. What do you think?

1 comment:

David said...

Firstly, I object to being called a lower order batsman! :-)

I think the bottom line is that the current method for calculating batting averages is not only perfectly reasonable (indeed, it is by far the fairest in my opinion) but, moreover, *far* simpler than any alternatives.

If we're including stoppages as you propose, should we have some sliding scale that discriminates between 5 minutes stoppages and whole days? While we're at it, should we incorporate a factor for how well the runs are scored, such that textbook cover drives score more highly than lucky edges over the slip cordon? Should we start compensating for the difficulty of batting conditions (e.g. light levels, weather and deterioration of the pitch)?

I think the reasonable answer to all of these questions is 'no'. The simplicity of batting and bowling averages is key - contrast this with the impenetrable mess of stats surrounding, say, baseball. It's important that a local village under-13 XI can calculate their stats in just the same way as a test team without needing a team of accountants!

Batting averages are never the be all and end all when it comes to judging players - do the current algorithms really need changing?!