Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

In Defense of Cook (and Geeks)

I’m a big fan of Cook the Test batsman. I’m not sold yet on Cook the Test captain (though it seems inevitable). I’m ambivalent on Cook the ODI batsman, and I’m not sold on Cook the ODI captain. And let’s, for the purpose of this article, assume T20 does not exist.

But as someone who is described (by myself and others) as a geek, I can’t help but lighten-up when Minal describes him as follows:

Cook is the essential geek you need in your group to research, compile and present the project and fetch the grade so that you and your friends can play pictionary and scrabble into the night and get up early to watch cricket matches.

Yeah, that was never me. But I knew that guy too, and while I’d never let him captain my team, I would make sure no one would bully him around.

(Also, I’d call him a nerd, not a geek.)

Sometimes It Really is Trott’s Fault

Hypothesis: Jonathan Trott’s game is not suited to the 50 over game. His good batting in certain types of matches skews his figures, specifically matches where England bats first. England are setting themselves up failure when it will matter.

The above statement is my intuition. I proceeded to dig through the facts to confirm my claim. Or invalidate it.

Of course, Trott can disprove all of this in tomorrow’s match. So it goes.

The Data

The strike rates are generally not too interesting. He’s always around 80. Except when batting second and England lose.

Trott Strike Rate in ODIs

Trott Strike Rate in ODIs

The averages tell a better story: 67 when batting first 37 when batting second. And most astonishingly, when he bats first and plays a long innings, England loses. He has an average of 87 when batting first in matches that England lost. Think about that.

Trott Average in ODIs

Trott Average in ODIs


Jonathan Trott is a good batsman, on his way to possible Test greatness. In the 50 over game, he is suited to playing the anchor role. This role requires other batsmen to keep the scoring rate up. If he runs out of other batsmen, the jig is up, he needs to increase his scoring rate and he gets out sooner.

This mode of operation is especially well-suited to batting first, when there is no specific target total. When chasing a large total, the anchor role is fine a stop-gap but a strike rate in the 70s will not get the job done.

In fact, when England bats first and he makes a large score, they are more likely to lose the match. This may be because he takes up the bulk of the overs at a slower strike rate. Overs that in the hands of a better ODI batsman would have resulted in a higher score.

Conclusion, for now

This is not the last word. The broad data seems to confirm my hypothesis, but I’m open to change my mind. I am going through every match Trott has played to see which ones fit my theory and which don’t. Especially if Trott helps England chase down 350 in the next match.