Thursday, 4 December 2008

Ben on...testing like an ODI

It must have crossed the mind of every Black Caps' fan at some stage that if we are so much better at one-day cricket then we are at tests, why don't we just play our tests like we play our ODIs?

There are of course fundamental differences between tests and ODIs beyond the limitations on overs and clothing colour:
  • No fielding restrictions in tests
  • More mileage for bowlers in tests to get wickets than to restrict runs
  • The red ball – somehow it is more dangerous than the white
A different strategy is required in test batting than for ODIs, a strategy based around accumulation – taking the shine of the red ball, grinding down the bowlers and taking the field out of the equation by waiting for the bad balls.

It is all obvious stuff and I shouldn't be insulting your intelligence by writing it down.

However, if it is so obvious, then why do the Black Caps batsmen repeatedly fail to stick to this strategy? I think they may simply be incapable of playing anything other than in an ODI style.

When you bat in ODIs, you generally give up about 10 runs in your average in exchange for about 30 points in your strike rate. (E.g. Martin Crowe: test average 45.36, SR 44.65; ODI average 38.55, SR 72.63.) However, for many of our batsmen, this isn't the case and their ODI average is much closer to their test average, or even higher. How, Ryder, Fulton, Taylor – 4/5 of our top 5 – have better ODI averages than test averages though their SRs look about right.

So how can we deal with this, or even possibly use it to our advantage?

We can't use the traditional test strategy as it is clear that simply throttling back on the SR isn't helping the averages of our players.

So should we structure our batting line up like an ODI team? There is a movement in this direction in certain teams where the openers are often the most aggressive batsman. Hayden for example, or Sehwag. In fact, I got thinking along these lines reading a post by Suhas about Ryder playing as an opener. I don't think this is the answer in our case. Using Ryder as an opener would almost certainly go the way of all the other transplanted middle order batsmen. It might work if we had Glenn Turner to partner him, Fleming to come in at 3, Crowe at 4 and Astle at 5, i.e. if we had a batting line up so strong we could sacrifice Ryder.

I have a far more radical suggestion, based on the fact that our batsmen seem to do so well when partnered with a tail-ender; take the 50-run partnership between O'Brien and McCullum in the Adelaide test for example. Perhaps we should simply bat our rabbits amongst our top order. Suddenly scoring in boundaries, something we're good at, become premium, and rotating the strike, something we're poor at, becomes undesirable.

In that vein, here is my suggested line up:

Redmond
Martin
Ryder
Gillespie
Taylor
O'Brien
Fulton
Mason
McCullum
Patel
Vettori

8 comments:

Damith S. said...

That certainly is an interesting one Ben !

How do you feel about Mccullum opening.

As you mentioned, Hayden, Sehwag, Jayasuriya are very aggressive batsmen that open in tests and play in a similar vein albeit a little conservatively.

Mcculums got the talent to do a similar job.

Maybe its too much of a risk to open with him considering how important he is in the middle ?

Rajesh said...

It's worth trying the line up that you suggest.
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thanks for that infromation

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