Here you will find detailed analysis highlighted from the CricViz app.

Match 6: Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Stars

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Stars win the Powerplay & win the match 

When we refer to teams making the most of the Powerplay, we are generally talking about the batting team capitalising on the fielding restrictions. In this match it was Melbourne Stars, the bowling team, who took advantage of the first six overs to take control of the match.

Ben Hilfenhaus made the most of the new ball by pitching it up and giving it a chance to swing, which it did on balls 1.1 and 1.2 to bowl D’Arcy Short and Dominic Michael. While the Sydney Sixers bowled just two full balls to Short as he raced to a debut fifty on Friday, both of the Stars’ deliveries to him in his innings here were full. Attacking the stumps risks putting the ball into the arc of batsman but it is a risk that can bring wickets and Hilfenhaus’ bravery was rewarded.

What was already a good Powerplay for the Stars became an excellent one with another piece of brave bowling and clever captaincy as off spinner Glenn Maxwell was given the fourth over of the innings. With a short off side boundary to the left handed Kumar Sangakkara if Maxwell dropped the ball even slightly short he was likely to concede a boundary. He didn’t drop it short but the small boundary and wide line from Maxwell was enough to tempt Sangakkara out of his crease and to attempt an inside-out, lofted cover drive. Sangakkara did not get to the pitch of the ball – perhaps Maxwell had seen him coming and held the ball back or maybe it was a misjudgement by Sangakkara – either way when the ball gripped and turned Sangakkara’s balance and power had been compromised and he was caught at long-off as he mis-timed the ball.

Although the Hurricanes still posted 188, that the Stars chased it with such ease suggests that they should have scored more. While it may be hard to not look at the Stars’ record club run-chase as the match-defining innings, the damage to the Hurricanes was largely done in their Powerplay as they subsided to 32 for 3 on an excellent batting pitch.

Paine and Bailey rescue Hobart

The favourable batting conditions available to Tim Paine and George Bailey, partners after the fall of Sangakkara, were considerably mitigated by the weakness of their team’s position when they came together. Their partnership of 145, a new club record, can be split into two distinct phases. From their first 57 deliveries together they scored 83 runs, hitting eight boundaries (RR: 8.73); from their last 28 deliveries together they scored 62 runs, hitting nine boundaries (RR: 13.28). This acceleration can in-part be attributed to the match situation: having lost three early wickets they couldn’t take huge risks, but also in-part to the Stars bowling, which for the first phase of the partnership never let the Hurricanes get away.

The pitch map above illustrates this pattern of control with the Stars generally maintaining a tight line and only in the latter half of the partnership did first Adam Zampa and then Marcus Stoinis begin to over-pitch and concede more runs to the shorter boundary.

Lucky Wright 

At the end of their Powerplay Melbourne Stars had reached 62 for 0 thanks largely to Luke Wright who was 40* (24). Just under half of those runs however, had come from edges or mis-timed shots, 18 (7) to be precise. While he hit a handful of clean boundaries he found the boundary and safe landings off a number of edges. On another day they could have gone to hand and the Stars run-chase could have been put under some pressure.

Hurricanes lose control 

Although conditions favoured batting the Melbourne Stars kept a lid on the Hurricanes’ for most of the first innings by maintaining relatively good control. The same cannot be said of the Hurricanes who bowled shorter and over-pitched more often than the Stars, and were punished accordingly.  

Quiney unveils his full repertoire   

Rob Quiney exhibited skills beyond just putting bad balls away in his 75 (43). His boundaries at 3.1 and 7.2 against Stuart Broad displayed powerful wrists, his twos at 6.2 and 6.3 and boundary at 12.3 revealed his sweep and the 13 times he came down the pitch, bringing him 27 runs demonstrated a willingness and confidence to use his feet. There was power too: all five of his sixes were ferocious hits.

Maxwell shows maturity 

When Maxwell came to the crease the Stars still required 101 off 11.3 overs. Although they were favourites the match was far from over. Maxwell’s 58* (29) that followed was an innings that belied conceptions about his maturity and the pressure of the occasion. Maxwell scored just 23 from his first 17 balls, happy to turn the strike over to Quiney, before assuming the lead role in the closing stages, blasting 35 from his last 12 deliveries. Just 4 (1) of Maxwell’s runs came from edges, while 36 (10) came from well-timed shots. Interestingly although he hit two boundaries against short balls, he scored just 4 (6) against other short balls from seamers.

Scared of spin?

Perhaps dissuaded by the short boundary on one side Michael Beer (3-0-20-0), Maxwell (2-0-12-1) and Clive Rose (3-0-17-0) all did not complete their over quota despite being the three most economical bowlers in the match. Spin went at an ER of 8.06 compared to seam which went at 11.07.

CricViz will be covering all 35 Big Bash League matches live on Twitter @CricProf.

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Cricket stats for November 2016

Aside from our app and its models and forecasting, we also work with global broadcasters and other publications to provide rich, contextual analysis. Often it’s about helping them create a story or theme, where numbers are needed to confirm (or dispute) a theory they’ve come up with. With so much data, however, it’s very often that one of us will come across something curious, and that happened a few weeks ago when looking into Kraigg Brathwaite’s numbers. Our piece for All Out Cricket magazine has it in full (below), but briefly:


Brathwaite has a better record (2,214 runs at 37.52, five hundreds) than Desmond Haynes did after his first 34 Tests (1,893 at 37.11, four hundreds)


I grew up watching Haynes at Middlesex. Even though he usually pummelled England when playing for West Indies, it was difficult not to love the style and brutish force he employed in his beatings, so it was a huge surprise to see Brathwaite mentioned in the same breath as him. Brathwaite’s career has begun encouragingly, but numbers alone don’t tell the full story (and you need to watch Fire in Babylon for a proper education on West Indies’ rise and fall). Would Brathwaite have fared as well facing Akram, Younis, Lillee, Kapil, Imran or Botham? While the pull-quote here is undoubtedly fascinating, everything has to be taken in context – something we remind ourselves of at CricViz each day.


CricViz's statistical article for All Out Cricket magazine

CricViz’s article for All Out Cricket magazine


CricViz analysis of the third Test between India and England in Mohali.

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“There were not magic balls. Maybe Jonny Bairstow was the only one that was a good piece of bowling, but apart from that there wasn’t a huge amount misbehaving from the pitch. It was good accurate bowling, as you expect from India in these conditions, but not unplayable. You can talk all you want but the top order have to go and deliver.”

Those words issued forth from the mouth of Alastair Cook as he considered the wreckage of England’s latest Test defeat to India, a reverse that brings his team an unwanted (but not unwarranted) fourth defeat in their last six Tests – not a whole lot worse than Australia’s much-mocked recent record. It has to be added that two of England’s last half-dozen games have been against Bangladesh, a team who not so long ago were barely thought worthy of their place among the Test family.

So I considered this: how bad has England’s top order actually been in these six matches?

Well, one guide is to look at what the total has been when the fourth wicket has fallen. At The Oval, when a draw would have given the series against Pakistan to Cook’s men, England were 74-4 in their first innings and, again, 74-4 in their second.

In the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong, they’d got to just 83 and 46 when the fourth wicket fell, and in the first innings at Dhaka they were on 64. So far, so bad. In the second innings, Alastair Cook and Ben Duckett put on 100 for the first wicket but there was an immediate and stunning collapse that meant the fourth wicket came at a none-too-clever 124 en route to a historic defeat.

And so to the first Test in India: a welcome success story for English top-order batting with 281-4 first innings and a second innings declaration at 260-3. But then back to some bad times: 79 & 101 in Visakhapatnam and 87 & 78 in Mohali.

Even including that big first innings in Rajkot, England’s average score at the loss of the fourth wicket is 99 during this period. It is very difficult, however good your lower order is, to avoid defeat if four top-order batsmen are out with such a poor score banked. No wonder Cook was so cross on Tuesday.

India celebrate the kew wicket of Jonny Bairstow on day four of the third Test

India celebrate the kew wicket of Jonny Bairstow on day four of the third Test

Now, drilling down into the grim detail of the two most recent defeats, let’s look at what actually happened to cause the first four wickets to fall on each occasion, and consider how much bad batting as opposed to fine Indian bowling caused those wickets. There are 16 individual dismissals which we can number accordingly, and they are chronological, so starting with the first innings in Visakhapatnam:

1) Cook b Shami 2
What happened: Cook played down the wrong line to a delvery coming back into the left-hander from an off-stump line and was clean bowled.

What ball-tracking data says: Ball swung one way and seamed another (this is much less unusual than it sounds, by the way). But the degree of movement was a far from outlandish 0.1° (swing) and 1.3° (seam).

What wicket-weighting says: CricViz’s unique gauge calculates the “quality” of the delivery compared to thousands of historic balls of near-identical properties. In this case, it reckoned the ball was capable of getting a batsman out 5.6% of the time – one of the highest ranked deliveries of the Test.

2) Hameed run out 13
In a Test match, a run-out is of course an entirely avoidable circumstance – 100% batsman error here. Let’s move on…

3) Duckett b Ashwin 5
The left-handed Duckett found the challenge of the world’s best off-spinner too hot to handle, this one of three cheap dismissal to Ashwin that ultimately cost him his place in the side.

Ball-tracking data: A big-turning off-break from Ashwin with plenty of drift and it’s the added spin that has done him: this one moving 6.2° off the track whereas the previous ball had practically gone straight on. Wicket-weighting: 2.2%.

4) Root c Yadav b Ashwin 53
With England already under pressure at 79-3, Root goes for a big shot down the ground which is caught by the man at long-off. A delivery that the batsman could have safely defended, he has instead gifted the bowler one there.

Two wickets: Good bowling
Two wickets: Batsman error

5) Hameed lbw Ashwin 25
A “shooter” which barely got off the ground – a very unlucky moment for Hameed and a bonus for India. Ball-tracking: The ball would have hit the at stumps at 19cm height; the previous ball (of similar length) would have passed 9cm over the top of the stumps.

6) Cook lbw b Jadeja 54
A critical wicket falling in the final over before stumps on day four. Electing to play without a straight bat, trying to shovel it to the on-side when he probably should have blocked it in the circumstances. Ball did bounce lower than most other balls of similar length, but not dramatically so.

7) Duckett c Saha b Ashwin 0
Stranded on 0 for 15 balls, Duckett elects to hit his way out of trouble this time and gloves his sweep to the keeper. With standard amouts of drift, spin and bounce the wicket-weighting of this ball was 0.4%.

8) Ali c Kohli b Jadeja 2
Playing defensively, Ali can’t avoid getting a thick inside edge to the man catching at short leg. Ball-tracking confirms what the naked eye can see: severe extra bounce and turn – batsman not at fault here.

Two wickets: Good bowling aided by pitch
Two wickets: Batsman error

9) Hameed c Rahane b U Yadav 9
Based on previous balls in the over, this should have bounced around 60cm high at the stumps; it actually bounced more than twice that much. Good probing areas from Yadav, but undoubtedly poor luck (again) for young Hameed, coming forward and gloving this ball to gully.

10) Root lbw b J Yadav 15
Very poor judgement from Root, pulling a straight one that is only slightly short of a length, missing and trapped in front. Also the batman’s first ball v spin and first ball after drinks – so wrong shot choice for many reasons. Ball did nothing untoward.

11) Cook c Patel b Ashwin 27
Poor ball, short and wide. Never a wicket-taking delivery (wicket-weighting very low at 0.6%), but Cook doesn’t execute his cut shot correctly and nicks it.

12) Moeen c Vijay b Shami 16
Head-height bouncer, top-edges the attempted hook and caught down at fine leg. One aspect to note: this was just 76mph, some 8-10mph slower than most of Shami’s balls, so clever enough bowling but ultimately the batsman at fault here (he could have ducked).

One wicket: Good bowling aided by pitch
Three wickets: Batsman error

13) Cook b Ashwin 12
Ashwin’s variations of drift and turn while maintaining such a consistent line and length have been a feature of the series, and here was a case in point: the final ball of a fine, probing over, this one turning quite a bit less than the third and fourth balls. Cook played the line that he predicted and over-estimated the turn.

14) Moeen c J Yadav b Ashwin 5
Batsman coming down the pitch, and instead of going right through with the shot fatally checked it at the last minute. Held back by Ashwin, easily his slowest ball of the over and the delivery drifting the most, but an avoidable dismissal nonetheless from England’s point of view.

15) Bairstow c Patel b J Yadav 15
Going back to play the spinner off the wicket has its advantages in that a batsman doesn’t have to “guess” how much turn there will be. But when you get a bit of low bounce you’re often in trouble. And this is low bounce: 28cm at stumps (“normal” bounce would be 50cm.)

16) Stokes lbw b Ashwin 5
The first ball of a new Ashwin spell and Stokes, seeing one spin more than anything the other two Indian slow bowlers had managed against him, is playing watchfully but not good enough so early in his innings to deal with the challenges posed by Ashwin.

Three wickets: Good bowling
One wicket: Batsman error

OVERALL SUMMARY of the two Tests
Exactly half of the 16 wickets examined here can be said to be the result of unforced errors by the batsmen, (and let’s face it when England weren’t in a comfortable enough position to make them). Cook appears to be absolutely justified in voicing his frustration that England’s top order have not beeen able to “go and deliver”.

That said, India’s bowlers deserve plenty of credit for bowling some fine deliveries to account for the other eight wickets to fall. To this extent, they were helped partially but not unduly by assistance from the pitches.


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Wide turn stymies spinners

This was a difficult pitch to read with ball-tracking data indicating that it took significant turn from the second day onwards and by the third day was taking more turn on average, 5.14 degrees, than the pitch in Dhaka did at the same stage, 5.09 degrees. The graph below shows the rate at which the pitch turned as the match progressed. However despite this significant deviation only 21 wickets fell in the first 380.1 overs of the match and only when eight fell in the last 69.2 overs did the scorecard begin to reflect the amount of turn on offer.


The critical difference between this pitch and the one in Dhaka was that the extra grass on this pitch held it together far better and for longer meaning in Rajkot the sharpest turning deliveries predictably pitched in worn areas of the pitch, whereas in Dhaka balls spun big unpredictably from previously compact areas of the pitch that were broken up by the impact of the ball.


The nature of this pitch meant that the sharpest turning deliveries pitched well outside the line of the stumps, nearer the bowler’s foot holes, as illustrated by the pitch map above. Naturally more of a threat is posed if balls turn big from within the line of the stumps. 41% of the 58 deliveries that turned more than eight degrees but did pitch within the line of the stumps were bowled in the fourth innings when the pitch was most worn.

England’s spinners improve; India’s get worse 

Speaking after the match England’s coach Trevor Bayliss suggested that their spinners had improved their control of length. Ball-tracking data shows this not to be the case with England’s length percentages remaining almost exactly the same as in the Bangladesh series. What they did improve however was their line, illustrated by the pitch map below: they maintained tighter groupings and conceded runs at 3.36 runs per over compared to 3.63 against Bangladesh as a result.


India’s spinners meanwhile bowled with less control than against New Zealand, as illustrated by the pitch map below. This was the flattest of the four pitches India have played on this season and England’s first innings was the longest they have been in the field in a home Test since they played England in Kolkata in 2012. In these less helpful conditions Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja struggled to maintain the exceptional groupings they managed against New Zealand.


Rashid’s finest

England’s best spinner in this match was Adil Rashid who took match figures of 7 for 178. Rashid displayed significant improvement in his control of line and length from the Bangladesh series, illustrated by the pitch map below.


In this Test Rashid landed 60% of his deliveries in a two metre range between four and five metres from the batman’s stumps, in the Bangladesh series that figure was just 46%. The principal improvement came in bowling fuller: against Bangladesh he dropped 14% of deliveries shorter than six metres from the batsman’s stumps, in Rajkot that figure fell to just 9%.

England commit forward and back

It is perhaps too soon to pass judgement on England’s batsmen against spin given that this pitch did not break up and turn as both pitches in Bangladesh did and as they are expected to do more in the rest of this series. However, England’s four centurions, Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes and Alastair Cook, as well as debutant Haseeb Hameed showed really encouraging signs with their footwork against spin. None of Root, Moeen or Stokes played a single shot with footwork categorised as “no movement” in their hundreds suggesting that they committed clearly to going forward or back, which is critical to playing spin well, while Cook played just 28 out of 290 balls in the match as such and Hameed just 12 out of 259.


England escaped defeat in Chittagong thanks largely to a superb all-round performance from Ben Stokes and Bangladesh’s first innings batting collapse; they were not so lucky in Dhaka where their shortcomings playing and bowling spin were exposed again and they crashed to a heavy defeat. There is no shame in losing to this Bangladesh team but there is shame at the manner of the result, in which their batting, bowling and fielding were alarmingly substandard.

It is difficult to ascertain which area of their spin-game, playing it or bowling it is a greater problem and quite frankly it is facile to apportion blame to one or the other; both were poor and both must be improved dramatically if they are to avoid a thrashing at the hands of India.

As bad as England’s batting was though, chasing 273 in the fourth innings was always going to be a very difficult task on a turning pitch against an excellent spin attack, and the size of that run-chase can be traced back to bowling and fielding errors throughout the Test.

After the match Alastair Cook was forthright in admitting that “we didn’t bowl great. And yes, their spinners did out-bowl our spinners. We’re not hiding behind the fact that we haven’t got world-class spinners.”

If the spinners England do have cannot exploit helpful conditions at their disposal then they are always going to struggle to win matches on the subcontinent because they will more often than not be chasing too many runs.

In the first Test England’s spin problem was primarily their inaccuracy and in the second Test the same can be largely said again. England’s inability to land the ball in roughly the same area consistently contributed to Bangladesh’s spinners bowling 15 maidens in the match compared to England’s eight and 50 in the series to England’s 21.

This failure to build pressure prevents spinners finding a rhythm against batsman and lining them up. Balls that turn fractionally more or less than preceding deliveries are far more dangerous if they are bowled at the same batsman rather than a different batsman because the same batsman is more likely to be influenced by the ball before and play down the wrong line.

Cook said that he would be interested to see the stats comparing England’s spin lengths to Bangladesh’s, suggesting that their bowlers maintained a better length. In fact both sets of spinners bowled very similar lengths overall [see below] with Bangladesh over-pitching slightly less, but both teams landing about 60% of deliveries in a two metre range between 3 and 5 metres – categorised as a ‘good’ length for spin bowlers.


England’s lengths, were almost identical to the first Test [see below] while Bangladesh’s actually got slightly worse. The home team were able to maintain more control because they bowled far tighter lines [see above]. Bangladesh’s pitching line groupings are tighter and straighter than England’s which forces the batsman to play and increases the chances of getting a wicket bowled or lbw.


Moeen was the most accurate of England’s three spinners [see below] and improved the percentage of deliveries bowled in the 3-5 metre range from Chittagong from 58% to 61% by cutting down on over-pitched and short deliveries. He also improved his line considerably – recording a far higher percentage of deliveries that would have gone onto hit the stumps. Rashid’s lengths actually got worse from Chittagong, most notably pitching 13% of his deliveries six metres or shorter. Ansari, meanwhile, recorded better lengths than Gareth Batty did but struggled to maintain his line.


Speaking after the match Cook explained the problem inaccurate bowling poses for setting fields. “You always feel you are a fielder short,” he said. “If you are leaking four, five runs an over in a low scoring game you have to put your boundary-riders out. It would be great if you could attack but you have got to hold your line and length better.”

England struggled to play spin just as much as they struggled to bowl it. Their dramatic collapse from 100 for 0 to 164 all out in a single session was the vertex of a problem that had been made all too apparent in the three preceding innings in the series in which they were 106 for 5, 62 for 5 and 114 for 6.

As has already been mentioned, batting in these conditions is not easy and Bangladesh have a very good spin attack, however to lose ten wickets in a single session is indicative of a more deep-rooted problem.

In terms of personnel, five of England’s top seven: Cook, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, are proven performers at this level and are guaranteed selection, while Ben Duckett’s second innings fifty showed enormous promise. Only Gary Ballance, who could well be dropped for the first Test in India, can be said to be out of his depth. In this sense England’s problem is not who, it is how – it is technique and strategy.

What has characterised the success of Bangladesh’s spinners, like that of Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Rangana Herath too in recent years, has been the lack of ‘mystery’ in their bowling. Rather than doosras and carom balls posing the threat instead it has been orthodox spin bowling. Alongside their accuracy these bowlers’ chief weapon is very slight differences in deviation and the key variation is the one that goes straight on. What makes this particular variation so deadly is that more often than not it is a natural variation, meaning it cannot be consistently read from the hand.

Eight of the fourteen dismissals of England’s top seven batsmen were to deliveries that deviated less than the average for any of the frontline spin bowlers [see below]. Playing against natural variations such as these is understandably difficult because there are no visual cues on which to predicate decision making other than the trajectory of spin after pitching, by which point the reaction time is negligible unless the batsman has gone back deep in his crease and therefore has some time to adjust, or, the spin can be nullified if the batsman is well forward and has smothered the turn. This reemphasises the importance of clearly committing either forward or back.


Given the average height and stride length of a batsman, deciding whether to commit well forward or well back is particularly difficult to balls pitched between 3 and 5 metres from the batsman’s stumps, within which 60% of all Bangladesh’s spinners deliveries landed, and also, as the match progresses and bounce becomes less predictable, balls pitched between 5 and 6 metres from the stumps, within which a further 21% of the spinners’ deliveries landed.

All the deliveries to dismiss England’s top seven batsmen excluding Ballance’s second innings leading edge pitched within this three metre range. This illustrates how difficult it must have been for England to commit either forward or back to those balls that they got out to because they were landing within a length range in which making the appropriate footwork is extremely difficult and even then once having committed either back or forward they then have to play the ball successfully. The less committed they are to going forward or back the less spin they will have smothered or the less time they will have to adjust.

The foundational aspect to succeeding against spin bowling therefore is reading the length well, something that England are going to have to work on ahead of the India series where the opposition is even stiffer.