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How To Go Moneyball In Club Cricket

Rajasthan Royals
The Rajasthan Royals used the Moneyball method to help them win the IPL in 2008
©REUTERS / Action Images

In 2003 a book called Moneyball argued that baseball was using outdated stats to decide how valuable the multi-million dollar players were. In particular it showed how a team with far less money for buying players could match the big spenders by picking players undervalued by traditional statistics.

This model was emulated by Rajasthan Royals in the first IPL tournament.

They used non-traditional stats to analyse player's strengths and bought a team for less than half of the price of the most expensive side.

So how does this help a club team on a Saturday afternoon?

You don’t need an analyst, just a willing scorer who can record a couple of things that might get missed in the normal run of things.

And you don’t need to go crazy over stats. They can give insights but sometimes a hunch is more effective. They are one tool to use. Here are some simple examples:

Hit ratio

For batsmen this is a stat that shows you how many times you made contact with the ball. The more 'good' contacts you make per innings, the more runs you score. A dot in the scorebook might be a play and miss, a thick edge just short of a fielder or a cover drive out of the middle brilliantly fielded. Each outcome requires a different intervention from the coach.

This requires an eagle-eyed scorer in matches to record the outcome (play and miss, good contact, bad contact, left) or PitchVision in the nets (PitchVision allows the bowler, batsman or coach to tap a button to record outcomes like 'play and miss').

This ratio can also been applied to bowlers. Bowlers who have less 'good' contacts take more wickets.

First ball runs

It's been shown that the better the average runs from the first ball of the over, the better the chance of winning. That's why modern ODI teams are looking to score from the first ball more aggressively. Teams who are aware of this stat will be looking to attack more too.

If your first ball average is low, it gives you something to work on as a team, especially rotating the strike which can be overlooked at lower levels unless players are really getting tied down.

Phase runs

Rather than looking at the rate per over across a whole innings, clever coaches can split the innings into 3 phases: opening overs, middle overs and death. Look at the run rate of each phase to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are.

For example, many club and school teams start slowly and runs are lost in the first 10-20 overs that can only be made up with over aggression at the end.

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