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Thread: Estimating balls faced from number of minutes at the crease

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    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    Estimating balls faced from number of minutes at the crease

    I think it's fairly common knowledge that a lot of older Test scorecards don't show balls faced - only minutes at the crease, which makes it difficult to properly assess a batsman's actual strike rate apart from 'he was fast' and 'he was slow'.

    I do have a proposal which I think our statistical wonks could spend many hours developing though.

    If we assume the average over rate is 15 overs per hour, then it would make sense that there are 90 balls bowled an hour. Assuming nobody is deliberately farming the strike, each batsman would face on average 45 balls per hour.

    Ergo, if you spend an hour at the crease you face about 45 balls, or 3/4 balls per minute, everything else being equal.

    Let's test this theory a bit.

    Hanif Mohammad's match saving 337 took 970 minutes, which this farcically simple model infers means he faced around 727 balls. Given Hanif's reputation as a slow scorer and The context of the innings (saving a match while following on) I'm not sure he scored those runs at a relatively normal SR of 46. Moreover the total run rate for the innings - for which Hanif was responsible for over half of - was only 2.06, which means a team SR of 34. This model doesn't really add up.

    Alright, let's try again.

    This famous Ashes Test is remembered more for Benaud's ingenuity than this innings by Ted Dexter, in which he scored 76 in 84 minutes - implying that he faced 63 balls. This doesn't seem unreasonable given that the innings itself was described as 'dashing', 'cavalier' etc.

    Funnily enough, in an Ashes series 23 years prior in 1938 they were thoughtful enough to actually count balls faced.

    Stan McCabe's legendary 232 at Trent Bridge was off 277 balls. He spent 233 minutes at the crease. While he was obviously farming the strike for the last few wickets, the model says it took him 176 balls. By comparison, Len Hutton in the same series scored his 364 off 847 balls. He was there for 797 minutes, which means the model is wrong again.


    So how could one develop this model in light of so many unknown variables like time spent on strike and over rates?
    Last edited by LongHopCassidy; 02-09-2012 at 12:57 AM.
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    International Debutant Jager's Avatar
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    This is statsguru's overall list of batting strike rates - keep in mind the balls faced category, sometimes a few of them have very, very small samples.

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    Worth noting the 1930s were 20 overs to the hour. Didn't drop to the 14-15 we see now until the Windies in the 1970s, IIRC.
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    Yeah the 15 overs an hour thing is setting you wrong from the start.
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    Also 8-ball overs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvd619323 View Post
    Worth noting the 1930s were 20 overs to the hour. Didn't drop to the 14-15 we see now until the Windies in the 1970s, IIRC.
    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup View Post
    Also 8-ball overs.
    So, 160 balls per hour in the 30s, to around 90 now. Wow.

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    International Captain LongHopCassidy's Avatar
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    Just for curiosity's sake, when did the 90-over-per-day rule become law?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LongHopCassidy View Post
    Just for curiosity's sake, when did the 90-over-per-day rule become law?
    Around 1990, iirc.

    I have done this study myself. One of the easiest ways is when the scorecard shows minutes batted for all batsmen. Get the total number of minutes and divide it by the total number of balls faced by the team, and then divide by 2 because you're guessing that the batsman in question would have faced roughly half the deliveries bowled whilst he was at the crease.

    Before the second world war, batsmen normally faced 1.1 times the number of balls per minutes batted at the crease.

    It slowed down to under 1 ball per minute in the 1950s and 1960s, before getting really low (maybe 0.7) in the mid-1970s and 1980s. It really depended on whether you were facing a pace-dominated attack, or a spinner-dominated attack. And also whether a team was going for the win on the last day or not. Obviously, if they had a chance of bowling a team out, they would try to bowl more overs.

    I have calculated the rough strike-rates of key batsmen before 1980 for their scores over 50. I'd be happy to share them.
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    Care to post them up, DoG?

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    VT Trumper 71.00
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    SJ McCabe 64.00
    RG Pollock 63.00
    CH Lloyd 63.00
    C Hill 63.00
    DG Bradman 62.00
    ED Weekes 62.00
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    RN Harvey 55.00
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    DCS Compton 46.00
    FMM Worrell 46.00
    PBH May 44.00
    AD Nourse 44.00
    L Hutton 43.00
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