There has been an interesting discussion on the LinkedIn group “Cricket Coaches Worldwide” about the use of fielding analysis data recording at club level. The (mostly full-time?) coaches are collecting more and more detailed data about every aspect of the game, and using it to inform training and development planning.
But one of the challenges that the coaches identified was that of data quality – you can spend your day (or allocate someone else’s day) to collecting all manner of match-day stats, but they can only be as useful as the analysis that you perform (and the insight drawn from the analyses).
I wondered if there were any simpler numbers that might help to drive personal and team performance goals. So here are my back-of-an-envelope metrics for “good cricket” – by which I mean “winning cricket”.
We play “time” games, scheduled to be completed within 6 hours of the start, with (a generous) half an hour between innings, 20 overs in the last hour – approximately 5 hours 45 minutes playing time.
A typical (winning) score might be somewhere between 200 and 240. On some days, 175 might be plenty, on another even 250 won’t be enough. But let’s aim for 240, batting first.
A typical innings will last between two and half hours and three hours. Let’s take the longer option – three hours to score 240, 80 runs per hour.
Break it down into more easily comprehensible chunks of time – in 15 minutes, score 20. And if you do that consistently, you will score 240 more often than not, and that is a likely to be a winning score.
As I mentioned, we play “time” games, but, assuming 17 overs/hour, 80 runs per hour is 4.7 runs per over. Call it “just under 5”, and you have a little leeway. BUT keep an eye on the clock – some oppositions bowl their overs at 15 per hour, others closer to 20 – in a time game, you will normally play to the clock, not the overs.
Batting second – simply divide the target by the available time, remembering that the final “hour” will probably last more than 60 minutes. The rate is likely to be just a little more than when batting first, as no-one seems to declare their first innings much before three hours.
Doesn’t matter – do the calculation, make sure the batsmen know their targets, and it is so much easier for them to keep up with the required rate.
Same calculation for the bowling side, but to win you must take 10 wickets – so, 10 wickets in 3 hours (I know you might not get this long bowling second – I’ll come to that), but on average you might expect to take the last 5 wickets in half the time it took to take the first 5. That’s 5 wickets in the first two hours, and 5 wickets in the final hour.
As I mentioned, you probably won’t get three hours to take all 10 wickets, when you are bowling second. But you still probably want to leave yourself to take no more than 5 wickets in the last hour. So that means taking (at least) the first 5 before the umpires call the last hour.
So now you can always tell whether you are winning or losing. And that allows you to decide if you have to take more risks, or if you can play safe.
And that is the type of metric that maybe helps the captain, or the individual player, rather than confuses…
I always feel a little like an impostor on the Cricket Coaches Worldwide group – the members are mostly professional coaches. LinkedIn is a business forum, really, and I am really there for my own (non-cricket) career development…but some of the discussions are fascinating for the amateur coach.