Debate has raged between two blog readers - one of whom is me and the other had to be prompted to read my previous blog entry - about my entry yesterday on England's ODI bowlers. Well I say rage, I mean my pal Matt Hindle raised an interesting question after reading the post.
The question was, how does having economical bowlers impact on the outcome of series? Or something along those lines anyway. Well I gamely took on the challenge thrown down to me, and because I didn't want to send myself mental, I restricted the scope of this investigation to bilateral ODI series involving two of the top 8 test sides (England, Australia, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan and West Indies) since January 2008, so it is by no means comprehensive, merely representative.
There have been 21 series from January 2008 to now according to Cricinfo, one of those ended in a draw (Chappell-Hadlee Series in 2008) so wasn't included, and in one series (staggeringly England v Australia in 2009) both teams had five bowlers conceding 5 runs or less per over bowled.
So that leaves 19 series which had a result other than a draw in either case. In 68% of those 19, i.e. in 13 of those series, the team who had more bowlers conceding 5 runs an over or less came out on top. Over two-thirds is pretty conclusive. Having a higher number of frugal bowlers helps you win cricket matches. Doesn't sound all that ground breaking when you put it like that, but its a fact!
Like I said above, this is by no means a fool-proof analysis but it is nonetheless interesting (no really, it IS). Clearly, from the analysis in the previous blog, England have a lack of bowlers capable of stemming the flow of runs, and this blog shows that those bowlers make it easier to win series.
So what's the solution? Well its line and length isn't it? Those most frugal bowlers ever in ODIs, the McGraths and Pollocks of this world were line and length merchants. Too often in limited overs cricket the likes of Anderson and Broad have varied their lengths when it wasn't always necessary to do so. I'm not suggesting they should stick to it rigidly, but more often than not that sort of bowling works wonders.
Why am I not being recruited as England's bowling coach?
Note: I should reiterate that I don't think runs conceded per over is the only measure of success in limited overs internationals, this is just an exercise to see how it can bring an impact.
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