Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Championship: We have improved, and I think I have the evidence...!

Yes, we did finish 16th out of 18 counties, which is hugely disappointing, but, and it is a big but, I think there is reason to believe that we are much better off now than we were in 2008 and 2009 and certainly think we're on a better trajectory.

I'm not saying this because I'm an especially big fan of Chris Adams, in fact I am yet to be convinced of his particular (occasionally David Brent-like) style of management and there's nothing to say that we wouldn't have improved faster with a Tim Boon or a Matthew Maynard in charge, but I genuinely think there is evidence to show that we have improved.

I've looked again (having done so earlier in 2010, here) at our first innings scores as compared to the opposition's, and also the number of wickets taken by Surrey and the opposing side, game by game, since the start of 2008.  The improvement isn't 'out of sight', its gradual, but it is there.

This first graph shows the first innings runs conceded by Surrey (the yellow line) as well as the first innings runs scored by Surrey (the red line) in 2008:

This graph shows the runs conceded/scored in 2009:

And finally the runs conceded/scored this season:

At first glance it doesn't seem that there's an awful lot that these are telling us, but there is something to glean from this.  In 2010 our first innings total more regularly outstripped the opposition's than in 2008 and 2009 and indeed that is reflected in the averages.  I mentioned in yesterday's blog that our average first innings total was 338 or thereabouts which is almost identical to 2008 (337) and in fact below 2009 (365) but when you compare the averages of the opposition we're much better off.  In 2008 the average first innings score for the opposition was 373, in 2009 it was 431 but in 2010 it was 316 and even when you account for the rain affected scores against Leicestershire and Gloucestershire, that total only goes up to 340 or so - more or less level pegging with Surrey's score.

So you can see that on first innings scores we're more often keeping ourselves very much in the game where in 2009 in particular we were too often chasing it.

And what about in the wickets department?  In my blog earlier in the year it was blindingly obvious that Surrey's opposition were out-bowling us more or less every game.  Here are another three graphs for good measure.  The first shows Surrey's (again, red line) and our opposition's (yellow) number of wickets match by match, first for 2008:

And second, in 2009:

And finally, this season:

It is striking the difference between graph one, where Surrey only took more wickets in a match than the opposition once (ironically against a Nottinghamshire side featuring Graeme Swann, Darren Pattinson, Charlie Shreck and Andre Adams!), in 2008 and 2010 it happened five times.  In 2008 we took didn't take 20 wickets at any point, in 2009 we did it once but in 2010 we did so five times.  Ok in 2010 20 Surrey wickets also fell twice more than in both 2008 and 2009, which speaks of a very inexperienced and at some times reckless team, but there are some things there to cling on to as positives.

If we look at averages across the season, in 2008 on average just over half (10.3) the opposition's wickets went down compared to on average 14.4 of Surrey's.  In 2009 it was 12.1 of the opposition's to 14.6 of Surrey's and in 2010 it was 14.7 of theirs to 15.6 of ours.  Again yes we are losing progressively more wickets, but we're competing far more closely.  That statistic may also point to some more competitive wickets at the Oval - which is a very good thing!

There's nothing to shout from the rooftops about here, we are still a poor team with a poor set of results this year, but there is much to suggest that in time, with experience and perhaps a signing or two (however unlikely the latter might seem for now) we will be able to compete for the top spot in the division.  I can't help feeling it should've happened before now and that does not reflect well on Adams, but given upheaval is unlikely to make anything better, he should be given the first half of next season to take us another few steps further.  It won't be an easy task, but its what we deserve after too many years of rubbish.

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