Last night I was in the crowd watching the Sydney derby, the opening match in the 2015-16 Big Bash League, which meant I wasn’t in a position to do a deep dive into the stats of the night.

My plan is to use the Twitter account in conjunction with a liveblog for nights when I’m able to watch the match with my computer in front of me – which won’t be every match by any means – and when I can’t I’ll try to come back with a summary of some key stats which help you understand the match.

Last night the Sydney Thunder beat the Sydney Sixers for the first time in eight outings, after the women achieved the same two weeks ago in Penrith. It was the first Sydney Derby played at the Showground Stadium at Olympic Park after the Thunder downgraded from the cavernous Stadium Australia to the smaller stadium across the road – and it was a big success with three-quarters of the seat’s filled and a good vibe.

Taking wickets was the key in this match – the Thunder’s score at the end of their innings was predictable based on the small number of wickets they had lost by their halfway point (allowing them to score faster), but only gave them even odds of winning – it was the steady fall of key Sixers wickets which pushed the Thunder total out of reach.

It was the Thunder’s 32nd match in the BBL and only their sixth win, alongside 25 losses and one rained-out match. In 32 matches, this was the Thunder’s fifth best score, but the Thunder has previously scored between 154 and 166 on three occasions when they lost to the Sixers – the team has previously been capable of chasing down sizeable Thunder totals.

Earlier this year the Thunder scored 154 at the SCG, and the Sixers reached the target on the final ball. In December 2013, the Thunder scored 166 and the Sixers chased the target down with ten balls to spare. In December 2014, the Sixers scored 180 and the Thunder managed only 164 in response.

The Sixers have played 42 matches before last night (38 in the BBL and 4 in the Champions League) and have only been bowled out four times. In three of those they were bowled out while chasing a target, and weren’t close. In the fourth case, the Sixers were bowled out on the final ball for 176, and then held off the Perth Scorchers by a single run, in January 2012.

A first-innings score of 158 is sizeable, but it’s certainly not enough to guarantee victory. Out of 237 men’s Twenty20 matches in Australia which had a non-Duckworth Lewis result, I calculated the following figures.

First-innings score # of innings Win %
121-130 20 25%
131-140 20 45%
141-150 37 38% (+5% ties)
151-160 31 42%
161-170 29 72%

For matches where the first team scores in the high 150s, their chance of winning is about 50%.

After ten overs, the Sixers had lost three wickets, and were still scoring quite fast. In the next two overs they lost an additional two, putting them on 5/75 – it was at this point where their run rate dipped below the Thunder’s equivalent and it never recovered.

Those wickets were crucial. For men’s Twenty20 matches, the team batting second has won 51% of the time when they have lost only three wickets after twelve overs – that probability increases to 68% for two wickets, 85% for one wicket and 96% for teams who haven’t lost a wicket after twelve overs.

If you lose those two extra wickets, your chance of winning drops from 51% to 17%.

earlywickets12overs2ndinnings

Thus the two wickets of Lumb and Carters, which exhausted the Sixers batting reserves, were crucial in turning the match. This demonstrates how much the Thunder bowling attack was a team effort – the highlights of the innings came from Andre Russell and Shane Watson, each taking three wickets, but those two crucial wickets were taken by Kallis and Green.

Finally, I thought I would compare the performances of the Thunder’s three most impressive players to those players’ histories.

The key to the Thunder innings was captain Mike Hussey, who scored 80 not out, and survived 18 overs. It was Hussey’s eleventh score of 80 or above: seven of those scores were for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, two for the Thunder and one for Northamptonshire way back in 2003, scoring 88 not out in the first Twenty20 tournament.

Andre Russell and Shane Watson both bowled innings of 3/13 – Watson did it in two overs, and Russell did it in four, so Russell was more successful at restricting run-scoring (only a quarter of his balls resulted in runs) while Watson took wickets more quickly.

3/13 is Russell’s seventh-best bowling spell. He’s taken four wickets in an innings five times, with his best ever spell being 4/11, taken for the Knights against the Titans in South Africa two weeks ago.

3/13 is Watson’s equal-third-best bowling spell. His best came in 2011 bowling for Australia against England in Adelaide, when he took 4/15. He has also taken 3 wickets for less than 23 runs five times for the Rajasthan Royals.

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