Associate and Affiliate Podcast: East-Asia Pacific with Avi Singh
Russell Degnan

The associate and affiliate podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Episode three and Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and I are getting the hang of things. Avi Singh (@mannerofspeakin), ESPN Cricinfo and CricHQ scorer and commentator, Ellerslie CC every-man, and Auckland local, joins us to discuss the East-Asia Pacific T20 Championship and Papua New Guinea's matches against New Zealand professionals. We discuss the key players and differences between the winners and those below; whether EAP needs to bring back the second division; the relationship between the Polynesian nations and New Zealand cricket; and getting local media interested in tournaments. Andrew and I then look back on Americas Division 2, the victory of the Bahamas, and the unusual and unfortunate decline of Argentina; discuss the performance of associate players in the Bangladesh Premier League and the benefits, or not for associate sides; and look ahead to Africa Division 1 in Uganda.

Direct Download Running Time 53min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Idle Summers 22nd February, 2013 00:37:06   [#] [0 comments] 

A spinners world, Ratings 21st February
Russell Degnan

2nd TestSouth AfricavPakistan
Pre-rating1317.51121.6
Form+40.1-0.1
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 148 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 4 wickets
Post-rating1315.31124.3

It wasn't quite Saeed Ajmal versus South Africa. But it was pretty close. Except for a 219 run partnership between Younis Khan (111) and Asad Shafiq (111), Pakistan's batting, particularly against the new ball was dire. Philander did the damage, taking 5/59 and 4/40, although particularly in the second innings there was a healthy dose of poor luck and poor concentration in the dismissals. Yet they ought to have won. The pitch favoured spin, and South Africa had real trouble with the Pakistani spinner, and even some awful officiating couldn't prevent the visitors taking a first innings lead.

That it wasn't bigger, a point from which the match was eventually won, albeit by a whisker, was down to de Villiers and Peterson, who managed to drag the score from 5/109 to within 8 of Pakistan. Expensive bowling from the pacemen didn't help - although Mohammad Irfan bowled well - Umar Gul took 1/120 off only 28 overs for the match, negating the persistent pressure from Ajmal. It seems unlikely Pakistan will get a friendlier surface, nor a better platform to push for victory - 155 in front with 6 wickets in hand with the world's best spinner on a friendly surface. That they failed to take advantage, demonstrates again, South Africa's ability to stay in matches, and take decisive advantage of opportunities.


4 TestsIndiavAustralia
Pre-rating1023.31181.7
Form-12.2+13.6
Expected MarginAustralia by 29 runs

The ratings don't lie. India are pretty terrible at this point, with an uncertain batting lineup of whom only Pujara (and maybe Ashwin) seems to be settled; a bowling lineup with no form to speak of. Fortunately they are playing a lineup equally unsettled (except for Clarke) and a bowling lineup with barely a game between them on the unrelenting decks of the sub-continent. And make no mistake, this deck will be unrelenting and sub-continental. A day out from the match it already looks dry India will bank on wearing out Australia's inexperienced pace-attack, and making enough runs off Lyon that their own spinners can destroy a team not known for playing spin well (or even at all).

The main hope for Australia will lie in their upsides. Their pace attack can bowl. Lyon is under-rated, owing to an unfortunate accident of birth, he has mostly bowled on the spinners graveyard that is Australia. He can play well in India, if he can work it out in the few minutes he has to do so. If the batting can hold together we might see a close series. They are both deeply flawed teams, and a few good performances from unexpected quarters could be enough to tip the balance.


Rankings at 21st February 2013
1.South Africa1315.3/td>
2.England1235.7
3.Australia1181.7
4.Pakistan1124.3
5.India1023.3
6.Sri Lanka1016.5
7.West Indies961.4
8.New Zealand857.7
9.Bangladesh595.2
10.Zimbabwe543.7

11.Ireland553.3
12.Afghanistan522.4
13.Scotland444.9
14.Namibia425.3
15.Kenya297.3
16.U.A.E.212.2
17.Netherlands208.9
18.Canada147.8

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Idle Summers 21st February, 2013 20:17:40   [#] [0 comments] 

Notes on Victorian Cricket Attendances
Russell Degnan

The MCG is perhaps the best barometer of crowds because it has both the best data, and is almost impossible to sell out, even when being renovated. There is actually less of interest here than you may think, but it is worth collating occasionally to see.

Start with two graphs. Figures are derived from the MCG, news reports and Austadiums. Not all sources are consistent, but the figures are close enough for this purpose. The first three seasons of the Big Bash are estimates on the Austadium site, but probably within a thousand or so.

  • Test crowds are basically constant within the bounds of opposition. This season was down, as Sri Lanka is a weak draw-card, but next season will be up, as the Ashes adds 25-30,000 to the base average.
  • One-day crowds are either trending down, or made up of two relatively flat lines, with the introduction of international T20 causing a drop of 5-10,000 per game. The combined aggregate attendance of international limited overs cricket is basically the same as it was before IT20: about 100,000
  • One anomaly is the drop in support for English limited-overs cricket. 2006-07 had a unusually large ODI crowd (79,000) but the 2010-11 T20I was consistent with the average for other teams (58,000)
  • The International T20 match has shown a significant drop in attendance, from 80,000+ against India in 2007-08, four years of ~60,000 and down to 40,000 this season. If any figure stands out, it is that one. Next year will be interesting.
  • Domestic T20 has increased the number of games year on year without a significant drop in average (~24,000 at the MCG, 13,000 at Etihad). That has propelled the aggregate attendance to the top of any format, indicating significant pent-up demand for more local games.
  • Conversely, the average BBL attendance dropped this season despite this being an under-whelming January of cricket. This doesn't match what happened in 2009-10 which saw a big increase in average attendance, followed by a big drop when England was in Australia.
  • 2009-11 is better discussed in relation to show-piece games (Vic-NSW was followed by 43k) and performance related, consistent with the economic literature on domestic crowds. The season just gone is less clear: outside the two derby games, the Melbourne crowds were weaker than expected, particularly before Christmas, even with both teams doing well.
  • It is very difficult to make any conclusions, good or bad, about BBL crowds or trends.
  • The next two years will be interesting for attendance, but not necessarily representative either. There is a clear shift away from international limited-overs cricket to domestic cricket; but international attendance is strongly correlated with opposition, so both formats ought to recover with England and India in town.

A final thought: the aggregate attendance of all formats has jumped from around 250,000 to 400,000 in line with an increase in high-profile matches (with apologies to the Shield and ODD Cup) from four to more than a dozen. The average number of people at each event has decreased, but the fan in Victoria has a lot more cricket to go to, and does so. Definitely a good thing.

Update:

I chanced upon another source of daily crowd figures on the MCG site, and by using the wisden almanac, have produced a long-range graph of crowds in Melbourne over 30 years. The key take-away is that Boxing Day has become ever more important, and ODIs have steadily declined, starting in the mid-90s. Note that I didn't include the average for the non-Boxing Day test of 1989-90, for which the 5-day aggregate attendance was 68,865; though it was less than 19,000; figures missing: ODIs: 1990-91 (2), 1984-85 (1) and 1980-81.

The nadir of test match crowds was an almost washed-out match against South Africa (1993-94) although the worst years were behind. Note that ODI aggregates vary wildly from variations in the number of matches played by Australia. Nevertheless, the long-term trend for ODI crowds looks bleak.


Idle Summers 14th February, 2013 21:47:29   [#] [2 comments] 

Associate and Affiliate Podcast: China with Jon Newton
Russell Degnan

The associate and affiliate podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

In the second episode Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and I are joined by Jon Newton (@newtonjcricket), founder of nforcesports.com. We discuss ICC qualification routes and their effect, developing cricket in China, the legacy of the Asian Games, cricket in the media, and the Chinese national team's development, particularly the women who came second in the recently concluded ACC Women's Championship. Appropriately, it was also Chinese New Year, so there are some periodic background fireworks to set the mood.

Direct Download Running Time 57min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Idle Summers 10th February, 2013 22:31:30   [#] [0 comments] 

The Wrist of Steyn, Ratings 10th February
Russell Degnan

1st TestSouth AfricavPakistan
Pre-rating1303.11125.8
Form+44.5+11.1
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 139 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 211 runs
Post-rating1317.51121.6

Modern cricket coverage has a particular shot that shows Dale Steyn to best effect. Not the side-on, of his rhythmical run, but the close-up from behind the arm. Here you get to see his wrist at work, the way it cocks then launches the ball from out of the camera, kissing the pitch even before the batsman starts to move. It is the wrist that gives him that extra yard of pace, the upright seam, the late movement. Few bowlers can ever have had better ones.

Steyn is rarely in the form he was against Pakistan. He is no McGrath of metronomic accuracy and stifling play. Many times in England he seemed to get wickets from his pace alone, though many good balls went unrewarded. Here though, he was unplayable, fast, controlled, the ball moving late, the batsmen unable to respond.

It was a good pitch for it. Junaid Khan bowled particularly well on the first morning without reward - he may have been a touch short, but credit too to Smith who has a knack for staying in. South Africa threw away that morning advantage late on the first day, being bowled out for 253 to Mohammad Hafeez (4/16). But an hour into day two it didn't matter, and the pitch mellowed, or the batsmen adjusted sufficiently for the game to follow its inevitable course from South Africa's first innings advantage. Steyn showed touches of brilliance in the second innings too, ending the match with 11/60 off 36.5. South Africa's early declaration meant they only beat the expected margin by a little. It was some performance though, and the ratings gap from them to the rest just expands a little more.

Rankings at 10th February 2013
1.South Africa1317.5
2.England1235.7
3.Australia1181.7
4.Pakistan1121.6
5.India1023.3
6.Sri Lanka1016.5
7.West Indies961.4
8.New Zealand857.7
9.Bangladesh595.2
10.Zimbabwe543.7

11.Ireland553.3
12.Afghanistan522.4
13.Scotland444.9
14.Namibia425.3
15.Kenya297.3
16.U.A.E.212.2
17.Netherlands208.9
18.Canada147.8

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Idle Summers 10th February, 2013 20:18:02   [#] [0 comments] 

The Waiting Game, Ratings 1st February
Russell Degnan

3 TestsSouth AfricavPakistan
Pre-rating1303.11125.8
Form+44.5+11.1
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 139 runs

Into the lion's den, or perhaps not. South Africa are possibly better travellers than they are at home, even if the pitches suit their bowling as well as anyone's. Pakistan have been rejuvenated under Misbah, but are still had to rate because they play relatively few tests. Their bowling remains a strength, although their third seamer is probably a weakness, they match up well against South Africa and have the better spinner. Their batting, less so. Younis Khan remains a force, even at this stage of his career, and there is a lot of promise in their younger batsmen. They haven't scored heavily of late though, even when white-washing England, and only sporadically in their loss in Sri Lanka.

It isn't out of the question that Pakistan could win this series, but it will mean over-turning a side that is very very good at staying in games until an opportunity presents itself to win. Misbah has shaped a side similarly equipped to wait on an opponent, so expect a cagey series, marked by moments of brilliance from some exceptional talents.


Rankings at 1st February 2013
1.South Africa1303.1
2.England1235.7
3.Australia1181.7
4.Pakistan1125.8
5.India1023.3
6.Sri Lanka1016.5
7.West Indies961.4
8.New Zealand857.7
9.Bangladesh595.2
10.Zimbabwe543.7

11.Ireland553.3
12.Afghanistan522.4
13.Scotland444.9
14.Namibia425.3
15.Kenya297.3
16.U.A.E.212.2
17.Netherlands208.9
18.Canada147.8

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Idle Summers 2nd February, 2013 15:29:06   [#] [0 comments]