Posts Tagged ‘ponting’

A Trott Or A Gallop?

There is no doubt about it. England have been pathetic so far in their ODI series against India. Many reasons have been mooted by the media for their poor performances, from player burnout to hostile conditions, from flat pitches to Jonathan Trott.

Yes, that’s right, England’s leading batsman over the past two years has been blamed, castigated even in certain quarters, for his side’s 3-0 deficit with many suggesting he should be dropped for ‘slow scoring’. I have to confess I was one of those voices and was going to write a column presenting the case for the axe – until I looked for some stats to back up my case. And found none.

I began by looking up the career strike rates for all of the number three batsmen from the main ODI-playing nations and found that, almost without exception, they were close to Trott’s figure of 78.58. Kumar Sangakkara’s was 75.50, Ricky Ponting’s was 80.60 and Jacques Kallis and Asad Shafiq were around the same mark. Gautam Gambhir’s was the only one significantly higher at 86.70, but I think we would all agree that messrs Kallis, Sangakkara and Ponting are exalted company for Trott to be in and will go down in history as some of the greatest number threes.
Undettered, I decided that as that heralded trio had begun their careers many aeons ago and scoring rates have since increased dramatically, then the early parts of their careers must be skewing their overall strike rates. With this in mind, I set about looking up the figures for the past 12 months and found that while their strike rates had risen by a couple of points from those early days, with Sangakkara’s now 77.25 and Ponting’s now 83.33, it was only negligible and was still around Trott’s 80 mark. Again only Gambhir was way ahead with an SR of 95.01.

RARE: Trott hits a six! Credit: REUTERS/Action Images

By this point, I was puzzled, but suddenly remembered another criticism of Trott’s: namely that he didn’t increase his scoring rate throughout his innings and was very one-paced in his approach. So I devised a suitable test – what was his SR in innings where he had made 50 or more – and compared him to the rest again. Once again he came out well as, to my surprise, the strike rates didn’t really change from their overall ones – so much for the perceived wisdom of upping the rate throughout the innings!

By this time I was completely stumped, but fortunately stumbled across a possible solution. Trott hardly hits any sixes. In the past 12 months he has hit an average of 0.08 sixes per match, compared to Ponting’s 0.31 and Sangakkara’s 0.39. Perhaps because of this he had earnt for himself the perception of being a blocker, whereas Ponting and Sangakkara got away with it because they cleared the ropes. To back this up I looked at Gambhir’s ratio, who despite his epic strike rate is not really seen as one of India’s dashers, and was amazed to find it lower than Trott’s at 0.05 maximums per match – hence his perception of being more of a tortoise than a hare.

All of which means, in conclusion, that I must admit my gut instincts with regards to Mr. Trott were wrong. His strike rate is up there with the big boys and his average is even better. Just beacause he isn’t going to empty many bars – and I still won’t enjoy watching him bat – doesn’t mean he isn’t worth his place in the side.

Jonathan, please forgive me for doubting you!

What do you think? Do you agree that Trott’s slow-scoring is down to perception alone, or has the author overlooked a crucial counter argument? Please let us know in the comments below.

Injury Worries Overshadow World Cup Preparations

Both Australia and England have been badly hit by injuries ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Following the conclusion of a seven-match ODI series, Australia have already replaced two players in their 15-man squad and England appear likely to do the same.

The list of players ruled out makes for interesting reading and you could form a handy squad from them: Shaun Marsh, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Michael Hussey, Stuart Broad, Nathan Hauritz, Xavier Doherty, Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett.

Add to that the fact that Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Steve Smith are nursing injuries and you have a picture of two teams expected to feature prominently in the latter stages of the competition, in the beginning, at least, struggling to pick fully-fit teams. It has been mooted that if England don’t name replacement players, Andy Flower and potentially other members of the coaching staff will have to take the field in their warm-up matches.

The good news is that the tournament goes on for as long it does and that the quarter-finals don’t get underway until 23rd March, giving injured players six weeks to recover from any niggles. However, will England gamble on the bare bones of a squad doing just enough to get through to the quarter-finals or will they approach the tournament aiming to play their best/fittest team from the start?

Australia have been here before, of course. Ahead of the 2007 World Cup, they lost Brett Lee to injury. His replacement, Shaun Tait, had a wonderful tournament as they claimed their third title in a row. England coped without Kevin Pietersen for one game on their way to glory in the ICC World Twenty20 but what the recent series in Australia has made abundantly clear is that Australia’s strength in depth is far superior to England’s.

Without Swann, Broad and Bresnan, their attack looked toothless and they desperately missed Collingwood and Morgan in the middle order. Without ready-made replacements at the ready, they have some big decisions to make as they aim for an unprecedented hat-trick of ICC World Twenty20, Ashes and World Cup success.

UPDATE: India’s Praveen Kumar is now the latest player to be ruled out due to an elbow injury. India have replaced him with Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, who was, for many people, a surprise omission from the original squad.