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The top 10 T20 death bowlers: IPL 2017

Now that cricketers have dispensed with the tedium of a winter rest (“Sleep’s for wimps”; Derek Trotter, 1985), instead plying their trade on the global cricketing treadmill, we are better equipped to look at recent form. There are almost no significant gaps in the T20 calendar, so a bowler who rocks up for one tournament in April probably had a stint in another tournament a few months prior. Their form guides are more accurate now than, say, in Test matches twenty years ago when – sweet mercy – cricketers had months to themselves, or spent it playing cards on the boat back home from somewhere hot. Or in the case of Andrew Caddick, learning to fly helicopters while painting Taunton’s pavilion – disappointingly not at the same time – as a memorable issue of Cover Point once regaled.

 

For us, it’s great news. In years gone by we’d look at a small sample of a player’s stats, based on last season, and make little of it. Now, however, we have an almost continuous sample of live data coming in which gives us a much broader view of the game’s critical areas, while ensuring it’s recent and relevant.

 

All of which leads to the following list of bowlers, and how they perform at the death (any bowler who has bowled more than six overs since the start of 2016, in overs 16-20).

IPL economy rates at the death

PlayerTeamRunsBallsMatchesWicketsEconTypeYear
Shane WatsonRoyal Challengers Bangalore17411016129.49pace2016
Joe LeachWorcestershire15410512108.80pace2016
Mitchell McClenaghanMumbai Indians1301011497.72pace2016
Harry GurneyNottinghamshire124921198.09pace2016
Graham NapierEssex129851299.11pace2016
Jamie OvertonSomerset78721096.50pace2016
Mustafizur RahmanSunrisers Hyderabad1821521687.18pace2016
Matthew TaylorGloucestershire1291041287.44pace2016
Chris MorrisDelhi Daredevils64681275.65pace2016
Graham WaggGlamorgan (Wales)100661279.09NULL2016
Rumman RaeesIslamabad United4652775.31pace2017
Dwayne BravoGujarat Lions1951211579.67pace2016
Benny HowellGloucestershire85611478.36pace2016
Sunil NarineMelbourne Renegades8860678.80spin2017
Tymal MillsSussex89701167.63pace2016
Lasith MalingaSri Lanka6543469.07pace2017
James FullerMiddlesex86731167.07pace2016
Mitchell ClaydonKent145981168.88pace2016
Matt QuinnEssex126871468.69pace2016
George EdwardsLancashire87551069.49pace2016
Wahab RiazPeshawar Zalmi6372965.25pace2017
Chris JordanSussex6167965.46pace2016
Mohit SharmaKings XI Punjab143931469.23pace2016
Andrew TyeGloucestershire128801369.60pace2016
Umesh YadavKolkata Knight Riders8252969.46pace2016
Chris RushworthDurham100661269.09pace2016
Ben LaughlinAdelaide Strikers3736566.17pace2017
Paul CoughlinDurham61531166.91pace2016
David GriffithsKent139941368.87pace2016
Jade DernbachSurrey (England)6967656.18pace2016
Ashok DindaRising Pune Supergiants7752958.88pace2016
Rory KleinveldtNorthamptonshire96711058.11pace2016
Mohammed ShamiDelhi Daredevils6246858.09pace2016
Yuzvendra ChahalRoyal Challengers Bangalore69431349.63spin2016
Anwar AliQuetta Gladiators8256948.79pace2017
Sandeep SharmaKings XI Punjab100661449.09pace2016
Jasprit BumrahMumbai Indians136991448.24pace2016
Andrew CarterDerbyshire8455849.16pace2016
Michael HoganGlamorgan (Wales)45481345.63pace2016
Kesrick WilliamsWest Indies4336447.17pace2017
Ben DwarshuisSydney Sixers6043448.37pace2016
Tymal MillsQuetta Gladiators3240544.80pace2017
Usman ArshadDurham137921448.93pace2016
David WilleyYorkshire5244847.09pace2016
Bhuvneshwar KumarSunrisers Hyderabad1661111748.97pace2016
Mark SteketeeBrisbane Heat4242646.00pace2017
Ravi AshwinRising Pune Supergiants64601446.40spin2016
Ben HilfenhausMelbourne Stars6052836.92pace2017
Keaton JenningsDurham64431538.93pace2016
Jasprit BumrahIndia4143535.72pace2016
Murugan AshwinRising Pune Supergiants74521038.54spin2016
Shane WatsonSydney Thunder3937536.32pace2017
Zaheer KhanDelhi Daredevils110671239.85pace2016
Lewis GregorySomerset67641136.28pace2016
Sunil NarineLahore Qalandars5537838.92spin2017
Tom CurranSurrey (England)83661337.55pace2016
Imran TahirNottinghamshire6644639.00spin2016
Wahab RiazPakistan60364310.00pace2017
Oliver Hannon-DalbyWarwickshire120801339.00pace2016
Chris JordanRoyal Challengers Bangalore7246939.39pace2016
Dhawal KulkarniGujarat Lions88611438.66pace2016
Tymal MillsEngland4538337.11pace2017
Hasan AliPeshawar Zalmi86641038.06pace2017
Jake BallNottinghamshire83571038.74pace2016
Mohammad SamiIslamabad United7057937.37pace2017
Barinder SranSunrisers Hyderabad60471437.66pace2016
Tim BresnanYorkshire93641438.72pace2016
Sohail KhanKarachi Kings7546929.78pace2017
Mohammad NawazQuetta Gladiators76491029.31spin2017
Shiv ThakorDerbyshire69531127.81pace2016
Nuwan KulasekaraSri Lanka4237726.81pace2017
Clinton McKayLeicestershire50561225.36pace2016
Piyush ChawlaKolkata Knight Riders47381127.42spin2016
Jordan ClarkLancashire74491029.06pace2016
Tino BestHampshire5537928.92pace2016
Dwayne BravoSurrey (England)5641628.20pace2016
Andrew TyePerth Scorchers5939729.08pace2017
Richard GleesonNorthamptonshire61531026.91pace2016
Sunil NarineKolkata Knight Riders63471128.04spin2016
Tim SoutheeMumbai Indians57361129.50pace2016
Johan BothaSydney Sixers4636627.67spin2017
Matt HenryWorcestershire65461018.48pace2016
Ravi BoparaEssex99741518.03pace2016
Mohammad AamerKarachi Kings75511018.82pace2017
Jeetan PatelWarwickshire49361218.17spin2016
AzharullahNorthamptonshire72571207.58pace2016
Wahab RiazEssex5036508.33pace2016

 

Shane Watson, the interim captain for RCB in IPL 2017, was their go-to death bowler last season; his strike-rate was good, but economy was higher than the average. Jamie Overton, who has been on the cusp of an England career for a while, took death wickets for Somerset last year and kept his economy under 7/over, which isn’t approaching deadly-assassin status, but something close to it.

 

Chris Jordan, however, struggled in his the 2016 IPL (economy approaching 10/over) before following it up with a tighter performance for his home team Sussex a few months later. The green, green grass of home.

 

Try sorting the table and looking at who might pop up when we review the IPL mid-way through the tournament.

ENGLAND’S ODI BOWLING REMAINS A WEAKNESS

It’s hard to know right now if England are truly on the cusp of surfing a wave in one-day cricket, but there has certainly been something of a revival since their pitiful displays in the last World Cup 18 months ago.

In all, they have won 13 one-day internationals since then and lost nine. They have won series against New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and lost narrowly to Australia and South Africa.

The evidence suggests the batting is in excellent shape at the moment. In that time, England have posted grand totals of 408, 399, 365, 355 and 350 – five of their seven best totals ever. Even allowing for some flat wickets and the modern trend for a par score to be so much higher than in previous times, this is a remarkable feat. However the bowling has not always been so good.

Against Pakistan, in the five-match series that begins on Wednesday, England are likely to start as fairly strong favourites thanks to their batting might, but this would be a good time for them to have a strong series with the ball.

In South Africa in February, England did not generally excel in the bowling stakes, though they led 2-0 with three to play and at Centurion set a faltering side, who had just lost the Test series, 319 to win.

Let’s examine what happened from that point. David Willey and Reece Topley, both currently injured, failed to strike with the new ball, allowing Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla to get away with a fast start. But it was what ensued subsequently that really hurt England. Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan and Moeen Ali – all in the squad for the upcoming series – failed to stem the flow or take wickets in the overs that followed. Only Adil Rashid, who returned an exemplary 1-45 from his 10 overs, emerged with credit.

The CricViz database records that Stokes, in returning 0-54 from 8.2 overs, attempted just three slower balls and found no discernible swing or seam. The lack of movement was not his fault – this was a flat wicket and he did not have use of the new ball – but should he have been trying more slower balls? Chris Jordan bowled seven slower balls in his 1-54 from seven overs. South Africa scored just two runs from Jordan’s slower deliveries suggesting it was a tactic worth pursuing, but Jordan bowled only one per over, Stokes less than one every two overs.

As for the spinners, whereas Adil Rashid created a degree of uncertainty by bowling seven googlies in his 10 overs, every single delivery sent down by Moeen Ali was an off-break. Little wonder, perhaps, that he went for 30 more runs than Rashid.

The stats show also that Moeen had a bad shift at the office with his lengths that evening: six short-pitched balls and three full tosses, one at beamer height. As for the seamers, Stokes only got one attempted yorker on the spot, three others ending up as half volleys, two as full tosses. Jordan got two in the spot, but bowled three full tosses and seven half-volleys in all. When Jordan dropped short he was punished, with 27 runs coming off 16 balls.

As for the bowlers’ lines, Jordan bowled the vast majority of his balls outside off or down the leg side. On the 11 occasions he bowled at the stumps, South Africa scored just four runs. Stokes bowled significantly straighter, while Rashid – as you would expect from a decent leg-spinner – bowled all but five balls on a line between middle stump and outside off. Moeen’s default line, outside off stump, was easily milked – 47 runs coming from the 32 balls he bowled there.

Let’s fast forward to the mid-summer home ODI series and the only game England game close to losing against Sri Lanka, which ended in a fascinating tie at Trent Bridge.

On this occasion, Sri Lanka batted first and hit 286-9. It should have been a winning score when England then collapsed to 82-6 – that was until Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes had other ideas. In the Sri Lanka innings, 40 of the 50 overs were sent down by bowlers picked for the series that starts on Wednesday. They produced some varied results. Rashid took no wickets but his 10 overs cost just 36 runs, against batsmen who play spin particularly well. Ali was again much more expensive, taking 1-69. Liam Plunkett returned 2-67 and Woakes 2-56.

Ali again produced barely any variety, with 58/60 off-breaks and 55/60 missing off-stump. His lengths were an improvement on the Centurion ODI – nothing short, no full tosses – but he sent down 11 half-volleys which cost 21 runs.

The most expensive seamer on the day, Plunkett, had a problem with his lengths – a beamer, four full tosses and eight half volleys among his bag. His line was OK, but movement was hard to obtain – the one leg cutter he produced was hit for four in any event.

Woakes produced a little more movement, with five off cutters, and his lengths were better than Plunkett’s. However his economy rate would have surely been even better had he not bowled 20 balls on leg stump or down leg which produced 24 runs in all.

Why was Rashid so hard to score off? His line was excellent; by now he had added the top spinner to his armoury (so was bowling three different deliveries) and 77% of his balls were at that ideal spinner’s length just short of a half-volley.

In terms of overall stats, Rashid now has the foundations of what could become be a very good ODI career. He has played in all 10 of England’s ODIs this calendar year, picking up 11 wickets from 10 matches at an economy of 5.03. Ali’s record over the same period is six wickets from eight matches at an economy rate of 5.75. You would have to worry that having been treated to some pretty rough treatment at the hands of Pakistan’s spinners in the Tests that England might be tempted to overlook Ali at the start of the ODIs.

If they want a second spinner, then Liam Dawson, who enjoyed a fine T20 international debut in July, might be a better option.

As for the seamers, they are also a unit in flux. Mark Wood has not played an ODI in almost a year but his raw speed, seen to fine effect on Twenty20 finals day last Saturday, will surely be called upon. England’s lack of variety elsewhere – made all the more acute by the absence of the left-armer Topley alongside Willey who can swing a white ball – is a potential weakness. It has been demonstrated in this piece that Stokes, Woakes, Plunkett and Jordan – as right-arm seamers who don’t move the ball a huge amount and who all bowl speeds in the mid 80s – can struggle to be an effective unit. And that problem only exacerbates itself when they miss their yorkers, bowl too short or slide the ball down the leg side.

It sure has been fun to watch England bat of late in white ball cricket – when Jos Buttler and Jason Roy are in full cry few teams can live with them – but sometimes the pyrotechnics of the batsmen have masked the imperfections of the bowlers. Against a Pakistan side invigorated by squaring the Test series in the final match of that rubber, England might need all 11 players to pull their weight.