Part 3 of 3 in a series reflecting on WBBL08 by guest writer Andy Frombolton
Who gives a (bat) flip?
Received wisdom is that batting second in T20s constitutes a considerable advantage. However this presumes that teams are good at chasing. And also that team strengths are broadly equivalent .
What’s the WBBL data when teams win the toss?
Thus on average teams win half the time whether they bat first or second but behind the headline figures are some big differences by team in terms of strategy and success. For example, in 2022, Renegades won the toss 7x, fielded 7x and lost 5x, whilst Stars won the toss 9x and fielded first every time (3 wins, 3 losses, 3 NR).
If any team displays a strong preference, it’s fairly obvious what the oppositon is going to do when they win the toss. Also, if a team’s whole strategy is built e.g. around chasing, how will they ever develop their ability to post a score?
Most interesting is Sixers’ transformation from the least-successful flippers to the best. In contrast, Scorchers went from winning every game when they won they toss last year to losing two-thirds in 2022!
The bat flip doesn’t really make much of a difference – the best teams tend to win whether they bat or bowl first and vice versa.
Professionalism will invariably decrease the viability of someone being an all-rounder since to be a world-class batter or bowler will require specialism for all but the most gifted.
Hence genuine all-rounders will be increasingly rare and conversely desirable in team selections.
How many players make it into the top 25 lists (most runs and most wickets), and who are they? Some of the answers may surprise …
Long term presence Devine had a poor season – a SR of less than 100 (compared to a usual 128+) and just 8 wickets. McGrath just missed out on batting honours (26th) but injury precluded her bowling as much as previous years.
Knight (2020), like Edwards and Root before her as England captains, has tended to underbowl herself. It’ll be interesting to see whether she bowls even less after her hip-surgery which would be a great shame since she’s an (undervalued) all-rounder.
Career resurrections – Perry and Healy
Going into this tournament the T20 careers of both these great players looked like they were in terminal decline when you looked at their WBBL performances. Perry didn’t make the CWG squad but found some form in The Hundred, whereas Healy’s miserable WBBL07 form continued right through until this tournament.
(2022 stats include all T20s for Australia and The Hundred)
Beyond the treat for all cricket fans of seeing these two on the world stage for a bit longer than they might have feared, the broader message is that older players can adapt their games for the modern game.
As discussed in Part 1 Perry, Jonassen and Kapp are great examples of how many older players could be much better deployed in the middle/late overs using their great game experience to pace and judge the innings and with the freedom to play which this new role could bring.
In the women’s T20 game, keeping is as much about keeping batters in their crease as taking stumpings but far too few keepers appeared confident in going up to the stumps for the medium pacers. Healy (and previously Sarah Taylor) repeatedly showed how it limits many batters’ options.
Overall though too few of the keepers are athletes – tending to remain fairly static and waiting for a return over the top of the stumps. Keepers need to ‘own’ the area behind them 20 degrees either side of the stumps and whilst comparisons with the men’s game aren’t always relevant in this instance there’s no reason why the best women keeper can’t emulate the standards of the best male keepers who regularly beat fielders not wearing pads to snicks and tickles heading for the boundary.
Heaven help the opposition when Australia finally select the Harris siblings
Their stats say it all.
Is there any other country where Laura Harris wouldn’t be in the national team by now?
The average figures were:
- 23.9 for 1 wicket 1st innings
- 23.6 for 1.1 wickets 2nd innings
In the first innings, 6 of the teams hovered around the average. Sixers were the only team with a materially better average PP (27) and Thunder the only team with a materially worse average PP (20).
In the second innings the stats were slightly more spread out, Hurricanes and Thunder both had materially better average PP (28). Heat had a materially worse average PP (19). But the surprising outlier in all the data was Sixers with an average PP of just 16!
Overall, these figures are far too low. The PP should be the launchpad for the innings but as discussed the batters either don’t have the skills (or feel they can take the risk) to take on the bowlers and take advantage of the fielding restrictions. The answer is simple – either the current batters need to change their mindset or teams need to deploy different openers.
And finally … the ultimate TFC
In the shorter format there will inevitably be squad members who don’t get the opportunity to do much with the bat or ball, but one player’s figures stood out above all others this year. Angelina Genford of the Sixers: 15 matches, 3 innings, 7 balls, 4 runs and 3 separate bowling spells totalling 4-0-36-1.