Sunday, February 25, 2007

Are You Experienced?

Here's a list of the players with most One Day International appearances.

Notice anything missing? Correct, there are no England players anywhere to be seen.

I haven't looked it up, but I'd guess that Gooch, Thorpe, Gough and Stewart are probably the top English names on this list, but way down below the sixty six names you see here - maybe one or two of them crack the top 100.

In contrast, four of the current New Zeland team have over 200 appearances - Fleming, Astle, Vettori & Macmillan.

You can throw your hands in the air and go on about how meaningless ODIs are - and I'd have to say that, on this issue, I'm probably on the side of the traditionalists (pause to swallow hard) but when it comes to tournaments that actually mean something, like the one starting in a couple of weeks, experience will count. Granted, it will count as an unquantifiable tangible when it comes to assessing criteria, but it will certainly count.

Put any of those 4 Kiwis in a pressure ODI situation and they'll cope. They might not win, because quite often pure skill will triumph over experience, but they will step onto the field in the comfortable knowledge that, whatever situation they face, they've been there before, know the score and know what they have to do to get through it. For example, every time Vettori comes onto bowl, he's in a situation that he's been through before, knows what worked and didn't work then, and can develop his strategy accordingly.

Michael Bevan is often cited as the best 'finisher' in ODI history. The batsman you'd most want at the crease with 70 wanted off the last ten overs and five wickets left to fall. He wasn't technically the best batsman in the Australian line up by any means- , but he was the best in that sort of situation, you'd rarely bet against him. There were two reasons for that. Firstly, Bevan 'knew his angles' and could work the ball round extraordinarily well - secondly, by the time he retired he'd probably been in that scenario about 40 times in his 200 odd games. Without trawling back through the records I'd guess that the first ten times he was in it, he failed in half of them, but in the last thirty, Australia won the game over 25 times.

During the upcoming World Cup, keep an eye on the 'total ODI appearances' column alongside the batting orders published. It's only a hunch (and I certainly haven't the time nor inclination to test it mathmatically) but I'd guess that the side with most players having more than 50 caps most likely wins when the chips are down and a tight finish is on the cards.

1 comment:

David Hinchliffe - Cricket fitness, coaching and tips said...

I agree to a certain extent. Experience is up there with talent as a critical factor, especially experience of what works. However I would argue that once you get past a certain number of games the benefit tails off a great deal. Is Kapil Dev twice the all-rounder that Flintoff is because he has played twice the games?

The question is then, what is that number? 30? 50? 100? 200? I don't know where to begin to put "experience" into figures.