Thursday 13 January 2011

Watto: Weirder than first thought

While it's not exactly the ECB's Black Ops analysis department, Opta, best known for their who-kicked-it- to-who data in footie, have produced some Ashes stuff [you can download it here, or if that doesn't work, there's a Guardian link here]. It's quite blunt, but [provided it's correct] it does illuminate the differences between Shane Watson and the rest of the world.

Opta have broken down the balls faced by each batsmen into 'defensive shots' and 'attacking shots', which is subjective in itself but does allow a rough calculation of productivity or effectiveness. For example, Alastair Cook faced 1,438 balls, of which he played no shot to 245, defended 436 and attacked 757, scoring 766 runs. Now, he will have missed some of the balls that he played at, and he would have scored a proportion of his runs from defensive shots, but for argument's sake if you divide the number of runs scored by the number of attacking shots played, you get a rather unscientific but interesting ratio of 1.01. This represents a 'productivity' of 1.01 runs per attacking shot.

Here are some of the batters [in order: runs scored, balls left, balls defended, balls attacked, run ratio]:

Mike Hussey: R 570 B 1085 BL 276 BD 301 BA 508 RR 1.12

Jonathan Trott: R 445 B 883 BL 162 BD 259 BA 462 RR 0.96

Kevin Pietersen: R 360 B 563 BL 102 BD 134 BA 327 RR 1.10

Brad Haddin: R 360 B 656 BL 71 BD 242 BA 343 RR 1.05

Ian Bell: R 329 B 586 BL 139 BD 174 BA 273 RR 1.20

Michael Clarke: R 193 B 437 BL 85 BD 142 BA 210 RR 0.92

Now here's

Shane Watson
: R 435 B 903 BL 247 BD 336 BA 320 RR 1.35

What's apparent, however blunt the data, is that Watson is batting differently, or at least achieving different results, to the other effective top-order batsmen in the series. He attacked significantly less deliveries than anyone else - 35.44 per cent, compared to a high of Pietersen's 58.08, and a low of Hussey's 46.82 and Bell's 46.59, but scored far more heavily when he did [The only batsmen who attacked a higher percentage of deliveries than Pietersen were in the lower order: Matt Prior at 63.98 and Mitchell Johnson at 60.29, for run ratios of 1.22 and 0.97 respectively].

Watson's ratios don't really compare to the other openers, either:

Alastair Cook: R 766 B 1438 BL 245 BD 436 BA 757 RR 1.01

Andrew Strauss: R 307 B 592 BL 194 BD 155 BA 243 RR 1.25

Phil Hughes: R 97 B 250 BL 51 BD 96 BA 103 RR 0.94

Simon Katich: R 97 B 207 BL 54 BD 59 BA 94 RR 1.03

Although Strauss is the player who comes closest to Watson's runs per attacking shot ratio, he still attacked 41. 05 per cent of the balls he faced - far higher than Watson - and it was obvious throughout the series that there was an [admirable] intent to lead from the front in Strauss's batting.

Watto, then, played differently. The supposition would be that he hit a higher percentage of boundaries than anyone else - answer: maybe [runs scored, runs in boundaries, percentage of runs scored in boundaries]:

Cook: R 766 RiB 330 = 43.08%

Prior: R 252 RiB 112 = 44.44%

Trott: R 445 RiB 208 = 46.74%

Haddin: R 360 RiB 170 = 47.22%

Hussey: R 570 RiB 286 = 50.17%

Strauss: R 307 RiB 162 = 52.76%

Watson: R 435 RiB 234 = 53.79%

Pietersen: R 360 RiB 206 = 57.22%

Watson's percentage of dot balls to deliveries faced, at 78.63%, was also far higher than any other successful batsman in the series. Strauss was nearest at 76.35%, Pietersen was, at 70.87%, the lowest. Significantly, Watto also featured in three run-outs.

While the differences between batters might not seem huge, they are significant. They seem to back up the view that Watson is not great in two areas that might really improve his game: revolving the strike and working the ball around. His defensive shots especially don't appear to result in as many singles as most other batsmen's. The Black Ops people would probably add all of this kind of stuff together with the wagon wheels of where Watson does score his runs - anecdotally with lots of booming drives. In all, it makes him pretty easy to work out, and leaves him open to the 'bowling machine batsman' accusation.

Watto has many virtues. For a converted opener he gets himself a start on a significant number of occasions and he leaves the ball well. Assuming that early in his innings the fields are up, thus allowing him plenty of boundaries when he does attack, perhaps he gets stuck when the fields become more defensive and he can't knock the ball around as effectively as most other players. That may explain his tendency to get out for around the same score a lot of the time.

That's presuming that the stats are right, obviously...


namya said...

Nice analysis.. All I can say after reading the data is that Watto has some Indian blood.. Remember Ganguly? I can bet that he would have a similar result as well..

Anonymous said...

Like the analysis, it's great that these statistics are now being kept and studied!

Was wondering I'd you've checked out our blog at where we try to produce another metric- win probability added? It's not a measure of player performance, more like 'match impact'. There's a bit of an intro under the 'What is WPA' and 'what do we mean by win probability' sections, and a series summary under the 'Ashes 2010/11' tab... We hope you like it...

Keep up the good work!


Anonymous said...

I think he just doesn't like taking singles, so he doesn't plan for them, doesn't call for them and when he has to run, does it badly.

It's a bit like a kid who only wants to smack it out of the park.

Rusty said...

Watson only plays shots that make good pics. Hadn't you noticed? He's a poser who doesn't like running. His shots always looked styled but he looks clumsy in the field.

Having said that, he's a bloody good poser, having just scored 161 while carrying the rest of the losers (bar Hussey) over the line.

Mark said...

Watson looks like one of the German guards in the Great Escape - the one who Steve McQueen nicked the keys off of as he was being thrown into the cooler with the little Scottish bloke from Crossroads.

Anonymous said...

I like the comparison, and I know exactly who you mean in the Great Escape. Contrast Watsson technique with the young protege Phil Hughes who exagerrates absolutely every leave. At least Watson always keeps his head firmly over the ball to play under his eyes!