29 March 2008

England Test Real Averages since summer '07

Having updated the real averages for the New Zealand series (which, incidentally, placed Strauss top with a real average of 54.8 and Vaughan and Cook the lowest of England's specialist batsmen with real averages of 20.5 and 22.7 respectively), I've totted up the total for England's last 4 series. In that time England have played West Indies and India at home, and Sri Lanka and New Zealand away. The overall table is shown above and makes for interesting reading.

Only three England players can consider themselves to have been unlucky overall when batting in Tests over these four series - Pietersen, Prior and Bopara. By unlucky I mean that the consequences of wrong umpiring decisions have reduced their official average to a greater extent than dropped catches and wrong umpiring decisions have aided their official average. Of those three, the interesting thing to note is that two of them - Pietersen and Prior come out first and second in the list of top real averages with 51.7 and 42 respectively.

The luckiest player - that is to say the player who's official average has benefitted by the greatest amount from wrong umpiring decisions and dropped catches - by a decent margin, is Alastair Cook. While his official average from these four series is 43.7, if it wasn't for dropped catches and wrong decisions he would in fact average just 30.7 - a very significant difference of 13 runs per innings. The next luckiest are Vaughan and Collingwood who have both benefitted by just under 8 runs per innings.

Strauss and Bell have been very slightly lucky but with Strauss' real average being 1.6 less than his official average, and Bell's being just 0.5 less, overall luck seems to have dealt them a pretty even hand - I'm sure Strauss wasn't thinking that as he trudged off in the 2nd innings in Wellington having been wrongly given out LBW by Steve Davis to a ball from Jacob Oram that pitched outside leg stump!

My take outs from these real averages over the last 4 series are (a) that Pietersen is head and shoulders above any other England batsman (hardly a revelation but his real average above doesn't take into account the poor luck Pietersen had in the 2nd Test in New Zealand when he was run out backing up at the bowlers end), (b) that if England want a batsman/wicket keeper (in that order) Prior was very unlucky to be dropped (although I still think Read should be playing and batting at 8 or 9 ideally if/when Flintoff is fit), and (c) that Cook is leading a little bit of a charmed life. That doesn't mean that I'm calling for him to be dropped, but it should be remembered when the media are considering Strauss' - and others - positions in the side.

What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

How about dropping Cook for Prior! He's opened the batting before............

Anonymous said...

Interesting that 5 out of England's top 6 average over 40 in this period and yet they haven't done particularly well. Perhaps these days with scoring rates going up, the mark of a good player is 45 rather than 40?

Ed said...

I think it's fair to say that the top 6 these days should be aiming for an aggregate of at least 270 rather than 240 (6 x 45 on average per innings, rather than 6 x 40), but having said that teams are only as good as their weakest player - it doesn't really matter who makes those 270+ runs. Sri Lanka are a good example of a team who perform well because players like Sangakkara and Jayawardene average well over 50, while players like Silva and Dilshan, who average 32 and 37 respectively, also play a vital role for the team despite having relatively low averages.

Ed said...

I've now had a look at Cook's whole career (as it's not a very long one - wouldn't want to do that for every England player!) and he's been pretty lucky - as evaluated by dropped catches and incorrect umpiring decisions - throught his international career. I'll post next week with the stats.

Mark Davis said...

Course the really big job is to look at real averages of bowlers - bet that would make Ryan look even better!

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