Friday, October 30, 2020

AB de Villiers releases new single with Karen Zoid

 AB de Villiers has released a single, with Karen Zoid and the Ndlovu Youth Choir. 

The music video features cameos from Virat Kohli, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, among others. Enjoy 



The all-rounder conundrum


On the surface, it appears that South Africa is basically all the way there with regards to creating and playing a good T20 team. They have a batting line-up with match-winners all the way down, and if this season's IPL is any indicator, they may have the best fast bowling pairing in the world in Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje. Throw in the first change talent of Lungi Ngidi along with (possibly) the ageless spinning talent of Imran Tahir, and, as they say in the South, baby you got a stew going. The one issue which the national team does have, however - and this was somewhat accentuated by the retirement of JP Duminy - is a reliable fifth bowler who doubles up as the all-rounder. It's not so much that we don't have options in the fifth bowler set up, we do, it's more that each of them has something that other would ideally have more of, and yet neither of them quite represent the full package in a way which would really be ideal. Now, it should be noted that South Africa isn't exactly unique in it's quality shortage when it comes to all-rounders in T20. The West Indies, having won two of the last three editions of the World T20, are probably the ideal side to model the attributes needed to win in the abbreviated format on, and even they have holes here and there. Andre Russell, great as he is in IPL, and he is a two-time league MVP in the most respected T20 competition in the world, he goes at nearly nine an over in international cricket, and basically averages a wicket every second game. Kieron Pollard is a legend of the game domestically, having won every tournament there is to win. But a look at his international T20 game reveals some chronic failures for an extended period of time historically. From 2014-2018, his strike rate never got above 112, and it was as low as 54 in 2018. In many respects being the bowling all-rounder in T20 a job and task designed for failure. As a rule, unless your team is god-awful, you will generally come in with only a few deliveries to make an impact. This means two things will almost always be true. One - your batting average will be suppressed by the fact that you generally have to play more risky shots much earlier in your innings. Two - the fact that you come in so late means you will not have the chance to "catch up" your strike rate. This second factor increases the importance of a players who are capable of clearing the boundary from ball dot. In Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, and Dwaine Pretorius, the Proteas have three guys who can in some or other fashion plug a need in the T20 department, without ever really plugging the entire hole.

 From the batting front, the first thing which will stand out is that none of the men have had a whole lot of international experience with bat in T20. They each hover at around 130 runs, which makes coming to any definitive conclusions something of an exercise in blind faith. Regardless, with the statistics on hand, there seems to be a rather noticeable chasm between Pretorius and the other two. His Strike Rate is 38 runs greater than the next best and his average is 2.5 times greater than Morris. Phehlukwayo seems to be the runt of the litter with the bat, having an average below ten and a strike rate that only just hovers at a run-a-ball. It is important to note though that Pretorius and Morris both have T20 half centuries, which works in their favour in the sense that it shows increased proficiency with the bat, but at the same time, it also means that in realistic terms, the difference between Phehlukwayo and these two has been the single innings. To date, Phehlukwayo has only had 10 knocks batting seven or higher, and only three batting at six. So there has been a definite lack of opportunity to show if he can indeed explode in the T20 format. That said though, considering the fact that in an ideal world he will only be coming in at the tail-end of an inning, we need to accept that maybe he is not the ideal man to come in and perform the coup de grace. Morris has not actually been much better, aside from a single, relatively meaningless half-century vs Pakistan, his career figures basically read the same as Phehlukwayo's. 78 runs at a strike rate of 106. That leaves Pretorius, who has the best strike rate, and the best average of the three, as well as by some distance the balls per six ratio in the race. This should be no surprise considering the fact that Pretorius is the best batsman in the discussion. As with the other two, Pretorius also suffers from a sample size issue, seeing as he has only batted in six T20 internationals. That said, though, the fact that his half-century came while batting at three suggests his selection could and probably would allow for increased flexibility with regards to the batting line-up 

T20 international batting Stats 


 

Chris Morris

Andile Phehlukwayo

Dwaine Pretorius

Matches

23

27

11

Batting        

Runs

133

92

135

Average

14.78

9.2

33.75

Strike rate

130.39

106.98

168.75

Sixes

5

3

6

Balls per six

20.4

28.7

13.33


 

On the bowling front, things are a little bit more even, with Phehlukwayo just about having the edge. He boasts the best strike rate and the best economy rate, no small feat considering he bowls quite often at the back-end of the game, when batsmen have decided someone needs to get smashed out of the ground. It's a dirty secret, but as a statistical exercise, does basically have the best T20 numbers of all South African pace bowlers, but SA has a pretty set in stone pace triumvirate, so I would be surprised to the point of shocked if he got in as a specialist bowler. Nevertheless, there is a quite substantial gap in quality between Pretorius and the other two. In a reversal of the batting situation, the fact that Phehlukwayo and Morris can bowl at the death (and Morris as an opening bowler), means they provide an increased flexibility to bowling proceedings which Pretorius just can't offer. 

T20 international bowling stats

 

Chris Morris

Andile Phehlukwayo

Dwaine Pretorius

Matches

23

27

11

Bowling       

wickets

34

35

7

Average

20.5

19.94

34.86

Economy rate

8.40

8.21

8.41

Strike rate

14.65

14.57

24.86

maidens

3

0

0


 

Another wrinkle to add to this discussion would be the fielding. Now, it is very difficult, if not downright impossible to fully measure fielding, as well as its impact, but it is probably safe to say with Pretorius' knee issues and lack of mobility they provide Phehlukwayo and Morris offer an increased amount of, you guessed it, flexibility in terms of fielding possibilities. T20 is not the format to hide players, and every runs counts that little bit more, due to the truncated nature of the game. 

The fact of the matter is, of the three combatants, only one has an IPL contract, and he once again went for a King's ransom. If Morris played as well as his IPL contract would suggest, this wouldn't even be a debate, but he doesn't so it is. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Why do Proteas dominate IPL but not international T20?


AB de Villiers once said he thought the IPL was bigger than the World Cup, an almost outrageous claim considering the fact that, gun to head, most non-Indian cricket fans would not be able to even guess who won the 2019 IPL, let alone the 2018 version. Now this could certainly be seen as an expected line of thinking from a man who continues to dominate in the IPL, yet has not played a T20 for his country since 2017, but we wondered if there was more to that? Now, it should be noted that doing better in one field than another does not indicate preference. I love money as much as I love gaming, but I play PlayStation every night, and I seem to never have money. That said though, we thought it was worth a look to see if AB plays T20 internationals with the same verve and chutzpah as he does in the IPL. 

AB de Villiers batting T20 batting records


 

IPL

T20

matches

166

78

Runs

4734

1672

average

40.46

26.12

Strike rate

152.51

135.17

100s

3

0


The first thing we see here, is that de Villiers' average and strike rate take a quantum leap in the IPL. His average increases by over 50%, which is a rather large amount in the grand scheme of things, while his strike rate increases by over 12%, which, when discussing strike rates, is a huge leap. There are of course, probably a lot of extenuating circumstances involved when comparing the two. The IPL only has four foreign players in a match day XI, which means that the vast majority of the playing team is Indian. If India had 56 international quality T20 players they would probably win every world cup by a significant margin, which they don't so it probably is safe to assume that the overall quality in the IPL, while by some distance the best in domestic cricket, probably falls a little short of the international game. Certainly, at varying stages, the Kochi Tuskers seemed to have a club bowling attack in lieu of a professional one. International T20s can often be held at the back-end of tours of tours with little or no prizes at stake. There would be some wisdom in thinking this lack of reward could be the reason for his reduced efficacy in T20 international cricket, but it spreads into his T20 World Cup play. His overall World T20 stats do not look that bad at first glance, but if you take a closer look, they seem to not be as impressive. 

AB de Villiers in ICC World T20 competition 


 

Overall record in T20 internationals

Record in World T20s

Record vs Netherlands, Afghanistan, Scotland

Record vs the Rest of the World

matches

78

30

4

26

Runs

1672

717

181

536

average

26.12

29.87

60.33

25.52

Strike rate

135.17

143.4

172.4

134.34

100s

0

0

0

0


Clearly his record against Test-quality opposition in World T20s was, give or take, the exact same as his overall record, which suggested that AB de Villiers, even in more high leverage situations, did not exactly play to his IPL level for the national team. 

 This represented a huge disparity and I was curious to see if similar leaps in performance existed for the other blockbuster Proteas. The two players who immediately leapt out to me were Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris. Rabada has obviously been the number one ODI and Test bowler in the world at varying points of his career, and has will very likely get the IPL purple cap (Most wickets) for the second season in a row. His T20 international stats have, however not quite followed this level of ability. Similarly, Chris Morris has seemingly had a rather average international career, and yet every second year seems to fetch North of R10 million. 

To start off with, we analysed Rabada's performances. The thing that will immediately leap off the screen will be the fact that he averages 1.8 wickets per game in IPL, while averaging 1.25 wickets per game for the Proteas. This represents a rather large departure statistically. While his IPL economy rate was only marginally better than when he represents the Proteas, one cannot ignore the fact that wicket have huge impact on the run rate the bowlers around Rabada also concede runs at. New batsmen generally take time to get their eyes in, so taking wickets is a priceless form of economic control. 

Kagiso Rabada T20 bowling records 


 

South Africa

IPL

Matches

24

30

Wickets

30

54

Economy rate

8.62

8.13

Average

25.4

17.5

Wickets per game

1.25

1.8



The stats were much the same in Morris' case, with the all-rounder recording a greater level of impact with both bat and ball in the IPL. In fact his record in the IPL basically reflects his pricing as maybe one of the top three or four most destructive lower-order all-rounders in the game, while his record in the green and gold reflects his status as a yo-yo man in the team in competition with three other men for the pace all-rounder slot.

Chris Morris T20 records 

 

South Africa

IPL

Matches

23

68

Wickets

34

80

Economy rate

8.4

7.78

Average

20.5

23.51

Wickets per game

1.47

1.17

Runs

133

548

Average

14.78

26.1

Strike rate

130

159.77

50s

1

2



So the next time you look at the Proteas dominating in the IPL and wonder why we can't do that in the international game, well the answer is quite simple: they aren't that good in green and gold. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Can we please stop picking Dale Steyn

 



Time was once when Dale Steyn was arguably the best pace bowler in T20. From his debut in 2007 until 2014, Steyn averaged 15.98 at an economy rate of 6.45. In T20 terms, that is a supernatural level of productivity. It showed in his IPL purchases as well, as Steyn was regularly auctioned off for prices in excess of a million dollars. From the first IPL tournament until 2014, Steyn had never gone at more than 8 runs an over. Indeed from 2008-2014, he went at an economy rate of 6.6. Almost unheard of level of efficiency from a pace bowler at the time, and even now. 

That was then, however. The biggest mistake a team can make is to be married to the past. Someone once said, "The past is a wonderful place, but you can't live there". We live in the present, and at present, continuing to persist with Steyn would be a mistake. Since the clock struck midnight on the 31st of December 2014, Steyn has provided a steady diet of average to below average T20 cricket. Even now, as we speak, he can't get a game consistently for the Royal Challengers Bangalore; traditionally the worst bowling line-up in all IPLs. From 2015 until his last game for the Proteas a few months ago, Steyn has taken nine wickets at an average of 33 and an economy rate of 8.96. If we are to take the fast bowlers in a World T20 tournament to be Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Anrich Nortje, and then two all-rounder slots for Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn has the worst economy rate. He's also less likely to take a wicket than any of the men in front of him. Defenders of the continued Dale Steyn selection party would no doubt point to the fact that he has played very little T20 cricket internationally. This is true, but there are two issues with this line of thinking. Firstly, if you try include his IPL numbers, the reading does not get any better. From 2015-2020, Steyn has conceded runs at 9.43 runs to the over in the IPL. This is, to quote the cool kids, very bad. Secondly, even his IPL numbers don't really flesh out his games played, because he has only played 11 games in the IPL the last five editions. Which leads us to issue number two. Availability. They say ability is the best kind of ability, and Steyn has not been available for the last two world cricket tournaments, as he was plagued with injury. Clearly, he has also not really been available for the IPL, which is an annual tournament. Can we really afford to pick a player who hasn't really been healthy in five years, and when he has been, has not performed particularly well? 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Cricket South Africa announces venues for 2020/21 calendar - with one huge shock

 Cricket South Africa has revealed the fixture slate for the 2020/2021 season. The season promises to be a jam-packed one with England, Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan all slated to tour South Africa, while South Africa has a potentially historic tour to Pakistan on the horizon following the home stand. South Africa have not toured Pakistan since 2007. The biggest shock of the fixture list sees the New Year's Test match, long the fiefdom of the Newlands Cricket stadium, being hosted by the Wanderers Cricket Stadium as CSA attempt to minimize travel. 



“We are delighted to announce the schedule of men’s international cricket for the home season,” commented CSA Acting CEO, Kugandrie Govender. “It is an absolute pleasure to deliver more good news for our cricket-loving fans to consume, following last week’s confirmed tour against England and domestic season launch.


“The COVID-19 pandemic predictably forced many changes to the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) and the traditional sequencing of scheduling matches in South Africa this season. This is why I am particularly proud of today’s announcement. It comes as a result of many hours of dedication, negotiation and hard work by individuals behind the scenes to ensure that our fans have an exciting line-up of cricket to look forward to throughout the summer and, although the matches will be played behind closed doors, we will have enough entertainment to make them feel as though they are a part of match-day activities.


“It is an important season for all of the formats of our beautiful game, with players having a lot to play for no matter the team they are selected in. The KFC T20 internationals will provide important preparation and a platform for selectors to monitor South Africa’s best ahead of the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in October and November in India. The Betway ODI series presented by Momentum will play a vital part in our team’s chances of direct qualification for the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and the Betway Test series will offer a home ground advantage as our team looks to make headway in the ICC Test Championship points table.


“All of this, while we continue to investigate the possibility of a historic return to Pakistan in the near future.


“Finally, I would like to express my gratitude and thanks on behalf of CSA, to the boards of England, Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan for their agreement to these tours and assisting us in bringing the beautiful game to the South African public under the ‘new normal’ that COVID-19 has presented us. I am certain that we will be thoroughly entertained by very competitive displays of cricket,” Ms. Govender concluded.



England men’s Tour to South Africa


Friday, 27 November at 18:00 SAST:


1st KFC T20I South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town


Sunday, 29 November at 14:30 SAST:


2nd KFC T20I South Africa v England, Boland Park, Paarl


Tuesday, 01 December at 18:00 SAST:


3rd KFC T20I South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town


Friday, 04 December at 13:00 SAST:


1st Betway ODI presented by Momentum (CWCSL) South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town


Sunday, 06 December at 10:00 SAST:


2nd Betway ODI presented by Momentum (CWCSL): South Africa v England, Boland Park, Paarl


Wednesday, 09 December at 13:00 SAST:


3rd Betway ODI presented by Momentum (CWCSL): South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town


Sri Lanka men’s Tour to South Africa


Saturday, 26-30 December 2020 at 10:00 SAST:


1st Betway Test match (WTC) South Africa v Sri Lanka, SuperSport Park, Centurion


Sunday, 03-07 January 2021 at 10:00 SAST:


2nd Betway Test match (WTC) South Africa vs Sri Lanka, Imperial Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

To the couch for Bouch

There is an old saying in Tennessee, I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, we will tolerate you until we can replace ...