Friday, October 30, 2020

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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Proteas Post-Lockdown Preview

Cricket is finally back in South Africa! It will be strange to watch our home summer with no crowds, especially during the New Year’s test, ...