AB disproves T20 theory

A few days ago, at a breakfast hosted by Sports Marketing gurus Repucom, the audience gained an insight into and understanding of, the cricket-watching and listening public of South Africa that very few would have been aware of before.

It wasn’t just an insight into how many of us watch and listen; which format is most popular; or how old and which race we are; it was which comedians we enjoy, whether we enjoy the arts and culture and what our pets names are. No, not the last one. That was made up.

Marketing and market research is very far from my field of expertise, but I had no doubt that it was valuable to sponsors and advertisers – otherwise they wouldn’t pay Repucom to do the work and hand over the results.

The ‘attraction’ for those not interested in the information and results of the market research, was a Q&A with national coach Russell Domingo and CSA chief executive, Haroon Lorgat. Both spoke with candour, charm and humour, happy to be self-deprecating in the knowledge that it was not a press conference and the audience would regard their comments as private.

Lorgat is the consummate diplomat so there wouldn’t have been repercussions even if his comments about India and the BCCI had made it into the public domain. For Domingo, the ‘issue’ was equally clear.

“I know what you’re going to ask me,” he joked with the interviewer before the first question had even been asked. The likeable Domingo then expanded on a theme he has obviously become familiar with since the end of the ICC T20 World Cup – a defence of the use of AB de Villiers down the order instead of at No 3.

He used statistics to justify it, which was in keeping with the theme of the occasion. Many of the statisticians present complained that the coach’s information was flawed and that the sample of scores was too small to be relevant or reliable.

More interesting, perhaps, is that no other player, coach or commentator, retired or current, (apart from Faf du Plessis) has endorsed the strategy. Domingo, however, has the courage of his convictions and will not be swayed. That is admirable.

I promised to leave the subject alone after a few columns, but then an email from the award-winning, International Statistician of the Year, Andrew Samson, arrived in my inbox. He has no interest in T20 cricket and, like all statisticians, remains happily dispassionate when it comes to player debates. I asked him to have a look at where de Villiers had batted in this year’s IPL for the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

In eight matches he arrived at the crease inside the first ten overs. He averaged 50 at a strike rate of 162. In five matches he arrived at the crease after the halfway point. He averaged 18 at a strike rate of 146.

It all points, once again, towards involving your best players in as much of the game as possible.

AB de Villiers: IPL 2014

— Innings begun within the first 10 overs
Date Against Venue How Out Runs Balls In at:
26 Apr Rajasthan Royals Abu Dhabi b Richardson 0 1 2.1ov
28 Apr Kings XI Punjab Dubai c Maxwell b Dhawan 17 15 2.6
19 Apr Mumbai Indians Dubai not out 45 48 3.5
9 May Kings XI Punjab Bangalore c Patel b Balaji 53 26 5.3
4 May Sunrisers Hyderabad Bangalore not out 89 41 6.4
11 May Rajasthan Royals Bangalore c Rahane b Faulkner 58 32 7.4
13 May Delhi Daredevils Bangalore b Kaul 33 17 8.1
6 May Mumbai Indians Mumbai b Bumrah 9 7 9.5
— Innings begun after the first 10 overs
20 May Sunrisers Hyderabad Hyderabad b B Kumar 29 17 12.2
22 May Kolkata Knight Riders Kolkata b Narine 13 13 12.6
24 May Chennai Super Kings Bangalore b A Nehra 10 6 13.6
18 May Chennai Super Kings Ranchi c Jadeja b DJ Hussey 28 14 14.1
24 Apr Kolkata Knight Riders Sharjah c Lynn b Vinay Kumar 11 12 15.5
Totals Inns NO Runs Balls Avg SR
Before 10 8 2 304 187 50.66 162.56
After 10 5 0 91 62 18.20 146.77
Totals 13 2 395 249 35.90 158.63


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