Using data, analysis and insight is key to performance in both investing and cricket, and the second article of our ‘IG Insight Edge’ series, CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde identifies the match-ups and plans to stop the world’s leading T20 batters. All data since 04/04/16 unless specified.
When batting with enough positive intent Rahul is arguably the most flawless player on the planet. His lowest average and strike rate against a bowler-type come against leg spin: 35 and 126 and he averages more than 45 against every length range except yorkers. That said, even the best players have weaknesses – it’s all relative and sometimes the margins are exceptionally small. Googlies (strike rate 123 and average 23) represent a way in and so too do balls that go on with the arm (average 20). Against pace, balls on his stumps in the Powerplay slow his scoring to less than a run-a-ball while balls above 140 kph and on a good length reduce his average to 15.
QUINTON DE KOCK
de Kock is a supreme player of pace (strike rate 142, average 53) and remains elite even against high speeds (strike rate 146, average 40). For the quicks classical good lengths are key (strike rate 136, average 28). He’s strong v full balls (strike rate 157, average 48) and short lengths (strike rate 160, average 40). In the Powerplay in particular de Kock is adept at shuffling across his stumps and lifting the ball over short fine leg – teams should consider having a man back for this shot – and quicks can’t stray too straight. The key to slowing him down is spinning the ball away from the bat (strike rate 117 compared to 134 in) which makes off spin the ideal match-up (strike rate 117, average 34). Leg spin does also represent something of a weakness for de Kock but since averaging 23 and striking at 91 against it in 2019 his record has picked up and he’s averaging 39 and striking at 135 against it this year.
Leg spin is Buttler’s primary weakness. Leg spin is the only bowler-type he doesn’t average more than 30 against. Since the start of 2018 Buttler has struggled when leg spin speeds have been slower than 88 kph. Buttler has particular issues with googlies, which take his strike rate to 119 and average to just 11. Balls that go straight on also challenge Buttler – suggesting he has issues reading spin from the hand. Against pace Buttler is supreme against high pace (strike rate 165, average 40) and short balls (strike rate 147, average 58). Buttler is one of the world’s most effective rampers and scoopers so when going full bowlers need to hunt for wide yorkers (strike rate 79) rather than straight (strike rate 141). Hard lengths slow his strike rate to 118.
Bairstow’s move to the middle order maximises his strength v spin (he scores as fast against spin as he does v pace: 147 – despite spin being bowled in lower scoring overs). Unusually for a right-hander Bairstow is exceptionally strong v leg spin (strike rate 160, average 32) but left-arm spin (strike rate 121, average 24) represents a potential weakness. Against left-arm spin Bairstow’s record gets worse as lengths get shorter and speeds get faster – bowlers should look to bowl into the pitch against him. The other potential chink in Bairstow’s armour is high pace – against balls faster than 140 kph his strike rate is 115 and his average is 26.
Maxwell has no apparent weakness in terms of the main bowler types—averaging at least 25 and striking at north of 130 against all of them. However, against balls faster than 140 kph his average drops to just 23 and his strike rate to 124. This is your window of opportunity. Maxwell is used as a spin-hitter but can be countered by high pace enforcers. He is particularly susceptible to short balls on a tight length. When going full, remember he can lap, ramp and scoop. For spinners – speed and spin direction is key. Spin it away (strike rate 130) and maintain high pace (strike rate 109).
Pooran has two clear weaknesses. Short lengths at high pace and away spin. Against balls above 140 kph he averages 14 and strikes at 130 and against genuine bouncers his average falls to just 14. Pooran is a brilliant player of in-spin (strike rate 168) and annihilates both leg spin and left-arm spin. But away spin really limits him (strike rate 119, average 27). Left-arm wrist spin in particular is a real issue for him (strike rate 101, average 15).
Leg spin (average 20, strike rate 107) is the biggest weapon against Hardik. He’s generally dominant against in-spin (no dismissals, strike rate 142) but googlies restrict him (strike rate 95). Hardik feasts on slower balls (strike rate 167) but they represent a decent attacking option against him (average 24). Hardik is brutal against left-arm pace (strike rate 167) but for quicks the best option is to go to hard lengths (strike rate 116) – particularly on a tight body line.
Pollard is very susceptible to high pace, short lengths and tight body lines. Against balls above 140 kph his strike rate is just 116 – although his average remains solid (35). Balls shorter than 8m from the stumps are his primary weakness though – slowing his strike rate to 125 overall but more specifically the 8-10m range limits his strike rate 112 and his average to 21. At high pace the line is also key: the tighter the better. Pollard is a destructive player of spin but leg spin is the closest thing he has to a weakness, slowing his strike rate to 137 and googlies limit his strike rate to 88.
Russell is the strike rate version of Rahul and by that we mean the margins for error are tiny and his ‘weaknesses’ compare favourably with many other players. Spin (strike rate 140) is clearly a better option than pace (strike rate 187) and teams should consider holding at least an over of their best spinner back. Russell is slowed by spin in either direction (134 v spin in; 143 v spin out). Notably against googlies his strike rate drops further to 107. Against pace hard lengths and bouncers are the safest tactic – his strike rate hovers around 150-180 in this area. When going full the margin for error gets tiny. Yorkers slow him to 120 but because he sets himself deep in his crease he strikes at 290 v full balls and 181 against full tosses – it’s better to err fuller rather than shorter when hunting for yorkers and wider lines are better than straight.
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