Sunday, August 24, 2008

Non-boundary strike rates

Near the end of the discussion here, there's a comment from me about the changing nature of the way runs are scored in ODI cricket. Most of it, of course, is coming from boundaries, which are much more common today. But it is interesting that there's been no real changes in the rate of non-boundary scoring since 1990.

Here's a graph showing the yearly overall "non-boundary strike rate", that is the runs that are actually run, divided by the number of balls not hit to the boundary (times 100). Top eight sides only. (There's some missing boundary data, especially before 1990. The actual non-boundary strike rates for these years are lower than those in the graph.)

Nice little up-down pattern from 1973 to 1983

(I've called it "run sr" in the graph, run as in running.)

I would have thought that batsmen today are more adept at "milking" bowlers, but the non-boundary strike rate has never got above 3 runs per over for any long period.

If you suppose that there are three types of balls:

- good balls that can't be scored off
- OK balls that can be worked around
- bad balls that can be hit to the boundary

then it seems that batsmen these days are able to hit the OK balls to the boundary more often, but can't do much about the good balls. (Edit: No, wait, that's not right. They're getting better at milking the good balls at the same rate as they're getting better at hitting the OK balls for four. Roughly. The constant non-boundary strike rate with an increased frequency of boundaries means that the percentage of dot balls is getting lower.)

At a team level (now including all teams, since 2000, but I've forgotten what I did with Kenya, probably I discarded them because they play against minnows too often):

team sr run sr
Australia 83.6 50.6
Sri Lanka 75.5 47.4
South Africa 78.3 47.0
Pakistan 77.3 46.7
India 78.8 45.7
England 74.4 45.4
New Zealand 75.2 44.7
West Indies 74.2 43.9
Zimbabwe 67.0 43.3
Bangladesh 63.4 38.6

Bangladesh are really bad at working the ball around for singles, etc. There's a clear gap between Australia and Sri Lanka, then a gradual progression down through to Zimbabwe. Then there's a huge dropoff to Bangladesh.

India are a bit of an anomaly, with their high overall strike rate coming more heavily from boundaries than the other teams. It's probably not just a factor of their grounds — opposition teams in India have the highest non-boundary strike rate of away teams anywhere.

Top eight sides since 2000, individuals, average at least 30, at least 1000 runs.

Player mats inns runs avg sr run sr diff
JN Rhodes 71 66 1994 41.5 86.1 59.7 26.3
DS Lehmann 44 39 1219 42.0 78.8 56.0 22.8
MEK Hussey 77 60 2079 54.7 85.6 55.3 30.4
L Klusener 91 73 1592 33.9 87.6 54.9 32.7
A Symonds 157 133 4300 40.2 94.1 54.1 40.1
MJ Clarke 117 105 3486 42.5 81.0 53.9 27.2
MS Dhoni 101 91 3064 44.4 89.0 53.6 35.5
SR Waugh 46 38 1134 40.5 79.9 52.6 27.2
PD Collingwood 124 114 2956 31.1 74.6 51.5 23.1
RP Arnold 136 123 2984 32.8 72.1 51.5 20.6

Symonds and Dhoni are best known for their hitting, but they're good at the less flashy stuff as well.

Unhonourable mention goes to Chris Gayle: overall strike rate of 80.3, non-boundary strike rate of 37.3, lowest of all the players who made the qualification. Lazy.

It's easy to go with the stereotype and call Chris Gayle lazy, but I notice that all the top "runners" in your list are down in the middle order, doing their nurdling in the "milk the spinners for 5 an over" phase that seems to have developed in ODIs.
That is a fair point, Anonymous, but Gayle is still worse than all the other major opening batsmen of the last decade.

What would Michael Bevan's stats be using the same calculations, not just from the turn of the century but for his whole career.

If I was to take a guess from memory, which is rarely reliable, I'd have thought that Bevo would rate highly in the non-boundary strike-rate analysis.
Whole career (including minnow matches), Bevan's non-boundary strike rate is a bit over 56, putting him around sixth highest all time.
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