Usman Khawaja’s unique BBL season

I’m a Sydney Thunder fan, and I was pleased to see how well they did in 2015/16. They managed to scrape into the finals, before winning both the semi-final and the final away from home to take home the trophy. This came after the team took the wooden spoon for the first three seasons before managing second-last in 2014/15.

But something bugged me about their performance, and that was the unique role of Usman Khawaja. During the last BBL season, Khawaja popped in and out of the Sydney Thunder side depending on injury and his test duties, and when he was present the team did consistently well – winning three matches and losing a fourth narrowly.

I thought there was something unique about Khawaja’s performance, and wanted to check it out by delving into the data. Namely, that Khawaja’s total run-scoring in his innings was much higher than any other BBL player, and that the way he scored his runs was different to most other high run-scorers in the tournament.

In later posts I’m going to delve into some theories about what matters in T20 cricket when you’re a batsman. In short, while scoring at a fast pace is important, I’m going to argue that wickets are still valuable in T20 and we should also judge batsmen on their ability to stay in without losing their wicket, at least in some circumstances.

I’m judging batting performance here as the number of runs the batsman scored as a proportion of the total runs scored by his team in matches which he batted in. This metric gives you a sense of how much a player pulled their weight in the team: they may get there by consistently scoring and staying in for most of the innings, or by scoring at a breakneck speed. In either case, staying in without scoring or scoring fast and getting out within the first over won’t serve you well in this metric.


Khawaja is way ahead of the pack on this measure. Usman Khawaja scored 345 runs in his four innings, out of a total of 692 runs scored by the Thunder in those innings, a score of 49.86%. The next highest score on this metric is 29.6% by Aaron Finch of the Renegades, followed by 29.1% for Shaun Marsh of the Scorchers. Continue reading “Usman Khawaja’s unique BBL season”


W/BBL live blog – Saturday 19 December

10:43pm – That’s it for tonight. I’ll return tomorrow with sporadic coverage of the three televised Twenty20 matches (along with some coverage of the other four non-televised WBBL games). In the meantime, you can also follow me on Twitter.

10:40pm – Globally, there’s four cases of a team scoring 180 or above with a lower top score. The Dolphins in South African cricket in 2006 scored 191 with a top score of 32, in 2008 Central Districts in NZ scored 180 with a top score of 33. In 2007, Otago scored 185 with a top score of 33, and in 2008 the Deccan Chargers scored 182 with a top score of 35 in the IPL.

In 2006, the Hyderabad Hawks scored 180 with a top score of 35 – the same stats as the Heat tonight.

10:35pm – One stat I’ve been tweeting about. The Heat scored 180, which is quite a high score (22/26 first-innings scores in the range have won) but wasn’t enough. One fascinating thing about their scoring was that they used seven batsmen, all of whom made it into double figures, and none of whom scored above 35. No team has ever scored anything like 180 in Australian conditions while having that amount of balance in their side.

In 2008, NSW scored 7/159 with Steve Smith top-scoring on 33, and they lost to WA. In 2010 and 2011, Sri Lanka A and Queensland each scored 149 with a lower proportion of runs scored by their top-scoring batsman.

6:42pm – So tonight’s BBL match will start in half an hour between the Brisbane Heat and the Melbourne Renegades. The Brisbane Heat had a terrible season in 2014/15 and will be hoping to recover from that position. I’m going to be out for a few hours so will likely return in the second innings with some more analysis.

6:39pm – We’ve now seen twenty out of 56 regular-season WBBL games, and some clear trends are emerging, but these are clouded by major differences in the number of matches played by each team.

The Melbourne Stars and the Sydney Thunder have both won all of their matches, although they have only played four and three games each, and they haven’t played each other. The Stars and Thunder will play each other twice in Sydney on the final weekend of the regular season, with matches at Olympic Park on Friday 15 January and at the University of Sydney on Sunday 17 January, on either side of the SCG Sydney Derby.

The Hurricanes and the Heat have both impressed. The Hurricanes chalked up five wins before losing their sixth match today, while the Heat started out with a tough competition, losing their first two matches to the Stars before narrowly losing to the Scorchers. They have since won five in a row and could win most of their remaining matches.

The Scorchers are ranked fifth, and that seems about right. They’ve won three out of five matches, which has included defeats of the Hurricanes and Heat. They’ve only played one match against a lower-ranked team, so they’re likely to improve as their schedule gets easier.

The Strikers, Renegades and Sixers have all fallen short, with no wins after four, four and six matches respectively. The Strikers and Renegades have each had some close calls, but the Sixers have been disappointing throughout the tournament.

6:28pm – The Hobart Hurricanes were aiming for a sixth successive win, but scored a below-par 108, which was then chased down by the Perth Scorchers. The Hurricanes’ bowling started well, with Scorchers opener Ellyse Villani going for a golden duck on the first ball, but the score wasn’t enough to hold them off. The Scorchers now have won three out of their five matches.

6:24pm – The Stars easily knocked over the Sixers – chasing down the Sixers’ total of 80 in only 15.5 overs and with the loss of only three wickets. The Stars have now won all four of their matches, while the Sixers have lost all six of theirs.

6:20pm – The Heat beat the Strikers this afternoon at the Gabba, with one over to spare. Star batter Grace Harris was lost to a golden duck, but her usual partner Beth Mooney paired with Jess Jonassen, scoring 48 and 67 not out respectively, most of those runs in an 89-run partnership before Jonassen was joined by Lauren Winfield, finishing off the match. The Heat have now won five matches in a row after losing their first three. The Strikers have lost all four of their matches, despite performing strongly today.

4:11pm – The Adelaide Strikers scored 9/125 in their innings against Brisbane at the Gabba (televised on One). This was a good recovery after collapsing in the middle of their innings, losing six wickets between 11.2 overs and 16.2 overs. Teams scoring 120-130 runs in the first innings have won 55% of matches.

4:07pm – The Hobart Hurricanes scored 8/109 in their innings. The team batting first only won in 10/35 matches when scoring 105-115 runs. But they then took a Scorchers wicket on the first ball, which will improve their position.

4:06pm – The Sydney Sixers women have continued their poor form, scoring 9/80 in their innings. The Melbourne Stars are on 0/6 off 1.3 overs. In women’s T20 matches in Australia where the first team scores between 70 and 90, that team lost 18 matches, tied one match and only won one match.

4:03pm – In the two WBBL matches this morning, the Thunder defeated the Renegades with three balls to spare, and the Hobart Hurricanes held on against the Perth Scorchers, who fell short by one run. The winning scores in the two matches were 130 and 133.

11:08am – Hobart is on 5/118 off 18.4 overs – which is headed for a score which would give them about a 50% chance of winning.

10:05am – We have six Twenty20 matches being played in Sydney and Brisbane today, with the first starting right now in Blacktown.

In the WBBL, the Hurricanes and Scorchers are playing at Blacktown at 10am, then the Thunder and Renegades will be playing in Brisbane at 11am. In the afternoon, the Sixers play the Stars at Drummoyne at 2:30pm and the Scorchers play the Hurricanes at Blacktown at the same time.

The first televised WBBL game starts at 2:40pm AEDT at the Gabba, with the Brisbane Heat hosting the Adelaide Strikers. Following that match, at 7:10pm AEDT the Brisbane Heat men’s team will be hosting the Renegades at the same ground.

I’m not going to be present for the whole day but I’ll drop in every now and then with little stats updates – and if you want to follow along please comment below.

Right now the Hobart Hurricanes women are on 0/5 off 1.3 overs at Blacktown. Both teams have performed well, with Hobart winning all four of their matches and Perth winning three out of their four.

Thunder vs Sixers – story of the numbers

Thunder vs Sixers – story of the numbers

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.

Continue reading “Thunder vs Sixers – story of the numbers”

Photos from WBBL derby – Sydney vs Thunder 6 December

I wouldn’t normally post photos, but since this game had the risk of flying below the radar I decided to take a few photos, and have posted them here.

WBBL – first round summary

WBBL – first round summary

On the weekend there were three matches in the WBBL.

The first two were both between the Melbourne Stars and the Brisbane Heat at Junction Oval in Melbourne, and the third was between the Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers at Howell Oval in Penrith in Western Sydney.

Both of the two Melbourne matches were reasonably close and followed a similar pattern: the Stars batted first, scoring a reasonably high total and narrowly fending off a chase from the Heat.

The Sydney Thunder easily defeated the Sydney Sixers, thanks to a steady flow of wickets and heavy-hitting.

In this post I’ll summarise the key stats from each match, below the fold.

Next weekend, there’ll be seven matches in Tasmania and Western Australia over three days. I’m unlikely to cover them in the same level of detail, but if I’m around I will do some tweeting of key stats at the @strike_rate Twitter account, so follow along.

Continue reading “WBBL – first round summary”