*All data supplied from allthatcricket.com
How does one judge Australia’s Test performance of 2017?
There are many ways in which to do this, but principally it is about team results and individual results.
This blog will address the INDIVIDUAL perspective.
I am also concerned with indicators of performance which are not simply due to the number of games or innings a player has played through the year, but I am more concerned with their respective contribution indicator (see red columns) as well as their effectiveness indicator (see blue columns).
I was also interested to look at international comparisons for Test cricket in 2017 –
- batsmen who have scored over 1000 runs
- bowlers who have taken over 50 wickets
Unfortunately after all the analysis that is undertaken by statisticians around the world, and the way broadcasters provide viewing of the game, FIELDING analysis cannot be provided with any accuracy or meaning.
From a global comparative batting perspective Virat Kohli just heads Steve Smith in terms of effectiveness, scoring on average a touch over 66 runs each time at bat, whereas Steve Smith is scoring about 1 run less per innings.
However, Steve Smith’s team contribution is significantly better than Kohli in that while Steve Smith is at the crease, he is involved in, on average 134 runs being scored. However, the master batsman on the world stage at the moment is Chet Pujara with a touch over 148 runs being scored while he is at the crease each innings.
From an Australian perspective, the numbers show that Australian top order batsmen, other than Steve Smith, are not scoring effectively and not providing strong contributions for the team.
There are a range of factors contributing to these outcomes:
- Lack of technical and mental adjustment to foreign conditions – solution, spend time there
- Insufficient time spent in these conditions, pre-tour and during tours – solution, adjust schedules to include extra games
- Lack of skill technique when facing a ball that deviates, either swing or spin – solution, building 1) and 2) above
- ‘Revolving door’ selection that is unforgiving for new players or young players in order that they can settle into an international environment – solution, head coach to run the program and use State Coaches and assistant coaches as talent scouts
It is of note that two Indian players feature in both batting & bowling top 5 rankings!
When looking at the global comparative bowling, Nathan Lyon, like Steve Smith stands head and shoulders above his teammates, and at the same time, is one of the best in the world. His contribution of over 3 wickets per innings is by far the best of any player in the world; while his strike rate is very good at 52 balls per wicket.
Australia has banked on its pace pronged attack which reaps dividends when wickets have some pace and bounce, and opposition batsmen are uncomfortable with this type of strategy. But as we have seen in the recent Boxing Day Test, the potency of the attack can become quite mundane with the loss of Starc, and more importantly, a wicket that gave England batsmen confidence that they were not going to be troubled by bounce.
Agar has been included into the 5th Test. But on figures alone which selectors are constantly seeking, O’Keefe on his familiar Sydney Cricket ground pitch, would seem to have a strong case to argue – this would have been the case had he not broken a bone in his leg during last night’s BBL clash.
If Australia is to continue with its pace bowling strategy, it would seem that each bowler needs to improve their contribution as well as their effectiveness if Australia is to move its way up the Test rankings, and maintain top position.
Some of the factors that will help are:
- Reduced use of ‘rotation’ policy for quick bowlers
- Increased amount of bowling for all quick bowlers from grade cricket through to representative ranks
- Sports science to provide information, final decisions to be made between coach and athlete
- Final selections to be made by Coach, and reduce or abandon the role of traditional selectors
The next blog will look at the Australian team results throughout the year as well as a wrap on the Ashes series and preview to the ODI and T20 series.
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