Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Andy Flower's hypothesis on the Wall

Harsha Bhogle, whose comments make so much sense and who never fails to amaze me with his insights informs us about what Andy Flower has to say about Dravid's batting after becoming the ODI wicket keeper for India.

Andy Flower points out that Dravid's ODI batting average has actually improved a lot since he started keeping wickets for India. He explains this statistic with this reason - Dravid has the opportunity to observe the wicket when he keeps. This helps him with his batting.

But my point is, this can happen only if India decides to chase. A good way to understand if this really happens would be to see data pertaining to India's chases. If India has been chasing targets for a large percentage of the matches since Dravid has started keeping wickets, then this could be good reason why. Will try to hustle some numbers on this.

Am at work and since I answer phones, I have sometime in my hands right now to do what I want. Since heavy thesis work is out of the question (I will be disturbed at least once every 5 mins), this is the right kinda work to do when I am here at the front office at the OSA. Be back in sometime....


Am back after like an hour since my post. No matter where I search, i cannot find the original peice by Flower. If any of you know how to find it, do tell me. But from the stats I culled off Cricinfo, I just found out that Andy Flower's surmise cannot be backed up completely by the numbers. Found some other interesting peice of info too.

Interestingly, while Dravid's batting average has actually indeed gone up from when he was not keeping, this rise cannot be attributed to Andy Flower's surmise that he reads pitches better after he has kept wickets. Read on to understand why.

Dravid has actually kept wickets for 47 matches in which India has chased targets 21 times (45 percent). Now his performance as keeper is not different whether India has bowled first or not (28 and 29 dismissals respectively). But his batting is actually better when India set a target, with 966 runs @ 50.84 (2 centuries and 5 fifties) with a highest score of 145. When India chased, his stats are, in 21 matches, 575 runs @ 47.91 (1 century and 4 fifties) with a highest score of 109 not out.

So that would mean that his batting actually suffers when India chases. Obviously the fatigue factor. But hear this. India actually won 14 of the 21 matches that we chased with Dravid having to bat after keeping for 50 overs. That's exactly two thirds of the matches we chased. And we won 14 out of 26 games that we defended targets in. Which is around 54 percent. This indicates that though his batting has suffered, we have actually become better chasers when Dravid is keeping. This would mean a number of things, the major point being that the team is more balanced and also that Dravid's contributions are helping India win.

So Dravid has started batting better now (an average of 39+ against 32+ when he was not keeping, would indicate this) and since he has proved that he is no slouch behind the stumps, this should a added interest in Ganguly wanting him to keep wickets for the ODIs. But this can't go long too, in the interests of India's prospects abroad.

So maybe we could let Ratra/Patel/Naidu keep when we are playing at home with Dravid as a specialist batsman. A couple of changes would have to be made, but we are always better players at home and hence this should not be a problem.

But Rahul, you can do it. The Wall just moves a couple of feet from one half of the match to another. Just believe it. Just Do It!

No comments: