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Monday, June 28, 2004

NZ's Test Bowlers - An In-Depth Analysis 

Yamis and I decided to work out a system for determining how often our test bowlers contributed to the Great New Zealand Cause. This follows our earlier analysis of NZ's test batsmen. I'll describe the system, and then post the results.

So, what counts as a decent contribution? Well, we first worked out how many runs teams are scoring now days, and divided this by the number of batsmen dismissed by a bowler (this excludes not outs, run outs, retired hurts, etc).

We counted the last 3 tests for all test-playing nations, except Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (both for fairly obvious reasons). There were 30,950 runs scored and 696 wickets taken by bowlers, producing an average of 44.46 runs/wicket. So, for the sake of argument, we said that a bowler "contributes" when he takes wickets at an average of 44 or less, and "fails to contribute" when his average is over 44, or if he concedes 44 runs or more without taking a wicket.

This includes the great majority of innings our bowlers have been involved in, except for the occasional 0-30 or 0-15, etc.

Specialist Bowlers

Chris Martin
Doing His Job = 18 innings (75.0%)
Not Doing His Job = 6 innings (25.0%)

Shane Bond
Doing His Job = 12 innings (70.6%)
Not Doing His Job = 5 innings (29.4%)

Daryl Tuffey
Doing His Job = 20 innings (58.8%)
Not Doing His Job = 14 innings (41.2%)

Daniel Vettori
Doing His Job = 42 innings (56.8%)
Not Doing His Job = 32 innings (43.2%)

Paul Wiseman
Doing His Job = 14 innings (50.0%)
Not Doing His Job = 14 innings (50.0%)


Jacob Oram
Doing His Job = 14 innings (73.7%)
Not Doing His Job = 5 innings (26.3%)

Chris Cairns
Doing His Job = 59 innings (63.4%)
Not Doing His Job = 34 innings (36.6%)

Obviously, there's a few confounding factors in all this. A bowler who is struggling is likely to be taken off by his captain, and brought back on when the conditions are a bit more favourable. By contrast, a batsman who's having a tough time of it doesn't get to come back later against worse bowlers or when the pitch has settled down.

Also, part-timers and all-rounders tend to have higher averages (but not in the case of NZ!), and this pushes the batting totals up a bit, when it's the job of the specialist bowlers to take wickets at a rate below the average per wicket. For example, we're not going to complain if Oram takes 1/45, but Tuffey, Martin and Vettori should do better than that.

Still, it's the specialist bowlers who have to put in the hard yards, sending down 25-30 overs a day in scorching heat on dead tracks, so let's not be too tough on them, eh?

Anyway, come back over the next week or so, and Yamis and I will compare these figures with those of some of the better-known bowlers (but not chuckers) around the world, and perhaps with a few players from the past, although it does seem that average scores are getting higher.

44.46 runs/wicket??

That's a really scary statistic to start off with; especially assuming that this does not count extras....

Any other countries with that kind of bowling average?
Just to clarify, the average of 44 runs/wicket taken by a bowler is an international average, derived from the last 3 games of each test-playing nation. So it doesn't suggest that NZ bowlers are particularly expensive. The figure does include extras however - some of these (no-ball, wide) count against the bowler, while others (leg-bye, bye) don't.

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