Thursday 13 November 2008

MP Vaughan b McGrath, Lee, Naved, O'Brien, Oram, Steyn, Collymore...

Men used to go to sea for freedom. Now they go freelance... Jeremy Kyle and his feuding proles, spot of lunch with the crossword, re-runs of vintage Grand Designs, all on in the background of course, just so things don't get too quiet... 

Yesterday the Batsman took a break from the wordface just as Sky decided to fill some broadcast hours with a two-hour round-up of the Ashes 2005. You really can't watch it often enough, can you?

You find something new with every encounter. This time it was Michael Vaughan getting bowled. For someone who maintains he doesn't get bowled a lot, he seems to get bowled a lot. He was bowled in both innings at Lord's by McGrath, bowled by Lee in the second innings at Edgbaston, and then again by Lee in Manchester, albeit from a no-ball during his 166.

Subsequently, he's been bowled by Rana Naved in Faisalabad at the end of '05, and then, after his year off with fetlock damage, by Corey Collymore in Manchester, by RP Singh at Lord's, by Zaheer Khan at Trent Bridge, by Jacob Oram in Wellington, by Iain O'Brien at Trent Bridge and by Dale Steyn at Lord's. 

In his Test career, he has been bowled 22 times in 147 innings; however 10 of those have come in his last 46 digs. And don't even talk about Lord's.

A quick, unscientific random sample by way of comparison:

Ricky Ponting bowled 24 times in 206 innings
Matthew Hayden 19 times in 175 innings
Jacques Kallis 40 times in 209 innings
Sachin Tendulkar 40 times in 256 innins
Kevin Pietersen 9 times in 80 innings
Mike Hussey 11 times in 49 innings

This rather more comprehensive survey concludes that the modern, post-1990 batsman with an average of over 35 is bowled in around 15 per cent of his innings. Vaughan falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. 

So statistically, Michael Vaughan doesn't get bowled a lot. But for someone who doesn't get bowled a lot, Michael Vaughan gets bowled. A lot. Or at least he appears to. Several reasons ruffle the Batsman's cap...

i) When he gets bowled, he gets bowled badly: off stump or off and middle, playing defensively and simply missing it. It's somehow more vivid that way.

ii) He gets bowled by a lot of fast-medium bowlers. McGrath is of the highest class, but consider Rana Naved, Corey Collymore, RP Singh, Iain O'Brien and big Jake Oram. 

iii) He has an idiotic look on his face when it happens. 

iv) Finally, and here's where the Batsman thinks the stats may be slightly behind the curve, the trend in modern batting is to get yourself right across the stumps and have the head on a line outside off stump. Thus aggressive players who come at the bowler looking to hit straight or leg side - Pietersen, Hayden, Ponting - tend to remove bowled from the equation. All have been out LBW more often than they have been castled (Pietersen 12, Hayden 26, Ponting 36).

Compare them to an old-time classicist like:

Geoff Boycott, bowled 30 times in 193 innings, leg before only 27. 
Or even Mike Hussey (stats above), another natural offside player. As is Vaughan of course.

Being bowled is the most devastating way to get out psychologically, I think. It's a product of the most basic failure of purpose: missing the ball. A decent batsman playing at his natural level should not be bowled often. It hurts too much. 

The Old Batsman himself bears several scars, the most livid from a jaffa of a slower ball at Basingstoke that I played about three shots to, none of which came close to connecting. I remember it still, with all of those years gone by... 

It's a subject too raw to leave without some comfort. Jacques Kallis has been bowled 40 times in his Test career. He has faced 22,232 deliveries. 22,192 of them have not hit the stumps. Way to go, big man.


Jrod said...

I think you nailed with the look on the face comment.

The Old Batsman said...

This blog's first ever comment - and from an eminent source. Thank you. And on another auspicious day for English ODI cricket...