Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Wingnut Enigma

Mention of Andy Caddick in the previous post set me thinking about the issue that's always thrown up whenever his name is bandied around - the fact that his bowling was so much better in the second innings than first time up.

It's only when you start digging around in the statistical dirt that you start to realise just how much better it was. To begin with, here are the bald figures: -

234 test wickets at an average of 29.91
103 second innings wickets at an average of 20.84

That's a differential of 9.07 between overall average and second innings average.

Now, consider this. Only one other bowler has an average differential any higher than 7 (Bishen Bedi at 7.4) After that come Lance Gibbs (4.73) Courtney Walsh at 4.68 and Derek Underwood (3.79) No other bowler has a differential rate above 3.

(Note for all comparison purposes that I've only considered the 37 bowlers who have taken more wickets that Caddick in test cricket.)

But wait - there's more - though not quite as startling.

44% of his wickets came in the second innings. Only six of the bowlers in this study have a higher percentage than that; -

Warne 50.7%,
Underwood 48.8%
Gibbs 48.2%
Marshall 46.8%
Walsh 46.2%,
Kumble 45.7%.

All of those are pretty easy to explain - all played, or in the case of Kumble still play, in strong batting sides where there were a lot of opportunities to bowl at large totals in the second innings where the wicket was deteriorating, whilst Gibbs and Underwood also had the advantage of uncovered wickets for at least some of their career. Caddick noticably didn't play in a very strong side - of his 62 tests, England only won 21, compared with Warne's record of 92 wins out of 145 tests for example.

That earlier second innings bowling average of 20.84 is a better second inning average than everyone except Murali, Walsh, Marshall and Curtly Ambrose - and NO bowler has a better overall career average than that. Marshall is closest at 20.94, Garner at 20.97 and Ambrose at 20.99.

Bottom line is that - on second innings performance, Caddick is one of the best bowlers in history.

So what's the explanation for such a discrepancy?

Buggered if I know...

He had, and still has, a wonderfully economical run up and delivery - and on his day could make the ball talk - moving it all over the place through the air and off the pitch, and all from a great height thanks to a nice high action. On occasions he was unplayable, the crowd got behind him and all was perfect in the world. At the Oval in 1997 when he and Tuffers bowled Australia out on an ecstatic Saturday, at Lords in 2000 when Windies were skittled for 54, short bowling rearing in at the batsmens ribs in a frightening fashon - then at Headingley in the same series. (All second innings performances - no surprise there)

But then there were the 'issues'...

He dished out a lot of talk, but was a real softie if anyone stood up to him...especially those in green caps. And he tended to 'go missing' if given any tap.

He wasn't the bravest batsman in the world and at times he made legendary 'bottle job' Chris Old look like Brian Close. Maybe, when bowling in the first innings he was slightly scared to let rip with the rib balls because he knew that retribution would follow, but felt slightly safer second time up.

Otherwise he was a psycological nightmare for captains and coaches to sort out as best they could. Atherton tried hard, whilst David Lloyd called him a 'nerd' and gave up. (Good people skills there Bumble) Hussain and Fletcher probably got the best out of him, but it all really came to an end when he backed out of touring India in 2001.

Beyond the mind-games there was the dress-sense. He used to button his shirts right up to the collar so he looked a total dork. A quick list of other people who do this: -

1) Ricky Ponting
2) Brad Hogg ('Bring out the Gimp')
3) Dustin Hoffman in Rainman
4) Ralph Wiggum
5) Forest Gump

No comments: