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Thread: Hold Back the Night

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Hold Back the Night

    Hold Back the Night

    With apologies to Graham Parker and the Rumour, David Taylor takes a look at an area of the game where opinions are sharply divided, the value of night-watchmen

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    International Coach uvelocity's Avatar
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    nice work that
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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Food for thought, yes.

    If anyone CBA it'd be interesting to see how often the nightwatchman succeeds or fails in his designated task, which I understand as seeing things through to stumps without further loss & what the median survival time (in terms of overs/balls) is for them.
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Have to compare with a) how many they score normally if they came in at their normal time, and b) how many times does a new batsman coming in loses their wicket before the end.
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    International Vice-Captain BeeGee's Avatar
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    Can't stand night watchmen. Ludicrous idea.

    Sport has always been about giving yourself the best chance of success in any situation. So please explain to me in what situation does tail end batsman have a better chance of survival at the crease than a top order batsman?

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    International Vice-Captain Noble One's Avatar
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    Good read.

    The use of the night-watchman is predictable by certain captains/coaches. Australia will clearly send Nathan Lyon out with anything less than 10 overs remaining. It's a sound strategy when the momentum is with the bowling side. Often the defensive tailender is good enough to keep the straight deliveries out; however not good enough to edge the rest.

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    Charles Davis looked into this in his book Best of the Best, limiting his investigation to those occurences between 1980 and its publication in 2000. There were 113 times when the nightwatchman was used and 89 similar situations when a nightwatchman was not used.

    He found that

    a) the averages of the nightwatchmen was virtually the same in either case (15.2 usual average vs 15.0 in nightwatchman situations);

    b) the performance of the team overall was negatively impacted in the majority of cases. He based this on the fact that (for example at the fall of the second wicket) in 33 out of 38 cases where a nightwatchman was used at the fall of the second wicket, the final score of the team was lower than would have been statistically expected based on the score at the fall of the second wicket. In those 36 cases where a nightwatchman was not used at the fall of the second wicket, it was 50-50 vs the expected score.

    For the fall of all first, second and third wickets, only 27% of the final team totals were higher than expected when a nightwatchman was employed.

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    International 12th Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeeGee View Post
    Can't stand night watchmen. Ludicrous idea.

    Sport has always been about giving yourself the best chance of success in any situation. So please explain to me in what situation does tail end batsman have a better chance of survival at the crease than a top order batsman?
    Well i recall a stat that Ojha averages more balls survived per wicket than Sehwag...

    Seriously, i think this argument about the "better batsman" is flawed. First of all it isn't simply about "who has a better chance of survival?". The point is that survival is more important for the better batsman, so you want to try and avoid the risk of exposing him.

    Secondly it isn't ridiculous that a lower order batsman could have a better or even chance of survival. Being a good batsman is about more than just having a good defence (indeed there are some 'good' batsmen who are known for having a ropey defence or for being particularly poor starters). Being a good batsman is also about scoring runs. A tailender can work night and day on their defensive technique to the extent that they can probably at least equal the defensive ability of a proper batsman, especially if they have a good eye and basic ability. Remember that many tailenders would look like reasonable batsmen if they dropped down a couple of levels - you will find many will have scored runs for their school, clubs etc.

    The art of batsmanship is being able to break away from "block balls on the stumps, leave the rest" to actually expand their game to try and score. Also the ability to concentrate for long periods. Not something required of a nightwatchman. (How many tailenders seem to get out the moment they play a couple of nice scoring shots, and get over confident from starting to 'feel' like they are a batsman?)

    In many respects i think the best arguments against nightwatchmen focus not on what happens the night before, but what happens the following morning and the potential effect later down the innings. But it is a balance.
    Last edited by greg; 04-01-2013 at 01:08 AM.

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    Hall of Fame Member Howe_zat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasingthedon View Post
    Charles Davis looked into this in his book Best of the Best, limiting his investigation to those occurences between 1980 and its publication in 2000. There were 113 times when the nightwatchman was used and 89 similar situations when a nightwatchman was not used.

    He found that

    a) the averages of the nightwatchmen was virtually the same in either case (15.2 usual average vs 15.0 in nightwatchman situations);

    b) the performance of the team overall was negatively impacted in the majority of cases. He based this on the fact that (for example at the fall of the second wicket) in 33 out of 38 cases where a nightwatchman was used at the fall of the second wicket, the final score of the team was lower than would have been statistically expected based on the score at the fall of the second wicket. In those 36 cases where a nightwatchman was not used at the fall of the second wicket, it was 50-50 vs the expected score.

    For the fall of all first, second and third wickets, only 27% of the final team totals were higher than expected when a nightwatchman was employed.
    That seems extremely flawed - all the data shows is that night watchmen are more likely to be used in low-scoring matches. As you'd expect, as when wickets are tumbling it's likely that one will be near the end of the day.
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    International Vice-Captain BeeGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greg View Post
    The point is that survival is more important for the better batsman, so you want to try and avoid the risk of exposing him.
    Exposing him to what? The opposition bowling? Isn't that his job?

    Quote Originally Posted by greg View Post
    In many respects i think the best arguments against nightwatchmen focus not on what happens the night before, but what happens the following morning and the potential effect later down the innings. But it is a balance.
    It's a lose, lose situation.
    If the nightwatchman fails then the batsman he was supposed to protect has to come in and "be exposed" anyway and all you've done is thrown away another wicket.
    If the nightwatchman succeeds then the next day your batting effort is hamstrung by a tailender having to bat with the top order and every subsequent batsman finds themselves demoted by one position and batting out of position.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howe_zat View Post
    That seems extremely flawed - all the data shows is that night watchmen are more likely to be used in low-scoring matches. As you'd expect, as when wickets are tumbling it's likely that one will be near the end of the day.
    Granted (a) is suspect, but (b) is comparing team scores given the score at the fall of the night-watchman's wicket: surely that goes some way to controlling for the nature of the match?
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    Not a massive fan of nightwatchmen. If he fails, then you achieve nothing as the batsmen is exposed anyway. If you use 2 nightwatchmen then you're going to significantly increase the chances of your number 6 or 7 batsman being stranded when they're actually batting at 8 or 9.

    Best case scenario is if he succeeds, then the nightwatchman almost always ends up being an easy wicket the next morning, so you just end up giving the opposition attack the morale boost of picking up a wicket.

    However, using nightwatchmen in video games is great fun trying to get your #11 to a test century, and should be encouraged at every opportunity.



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