How cricketers get their eye in

Cricket scores

It’s long been known that batsman in the venerable game of cricket are more likely to get out early in their innings, before they “get their eye in”. Various factors seem to be to blame, such as the time it takes for the batsmen’s footwork to warm up and for them to adapt to the prevailing bowling and weather conditions.

But how big is this effect? Brendon Brewer, an astronomer at the University of Sydney (they love their cricket in Oz), has the answer. He has analysed the sequence of scores made by top players in first class and test cricket and then determined how much more likely they are to get out early in the innings.

From this he has calculated that batsmen typically play at only about half their potential ability when they first come to the crease.

In addition, some players are more robust at this stage of their innings than others, which may have important implications for selection policy, particularly for opening batsmen who need to be more resilient.

The study of various modern players produced some unexpected results. Brewer says:

Surprisingly, we found that Steve Waugh was the most vulnerable player at the very beginning of his innings out of the entire sample that was investigated, except for Shane Warne. Even Shaun Pollock is better at the beginning of his innings.

Brewer’s is an interesting approach. I imagine it should be possible to find other points in a batsmen’s innings when they are most likely to get out, perhaps when their concentration begins to flag (most obviously after milestones such as 50s and 100s). It might also be possible to examine run rates to determine when they are at their most prolific.

For data miners, there’s gold in them thar’ score books.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0801.4408: Getting Your Eye In: A Bayesian Analysis of Early Dismissals in Cricket

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