Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: New Zealand

Project Management Euphemisms to Fix New Zealand Cricket

Ross Taylor was pushed aside as captain of New Zealand after serious disagreements with coach Hesson. And Taylor has made himself unavailable for the next series. The long and short of it, from Andy Bull:

Taylor has been been stuck in an internecine squabble over the captaincy with Brendon McCullum ever since Dan Vettori stepped down. Hesson worked with McCullum at Otago for six years, and ever since he took over from John Wright as head coa ch last August he has made it all too obvious whose side he is on. The panel that appointed Hesson to his position included Stephen Fleming, who still draws a lot of water in Kiwi cricket circles, and just happens to be McCullum’s manager and business partner.

New Zealand cricket is in trouble and the current disagreement with Ross Taylor isn’t even the biggest part. It is, however, the most recent and most public symptom of what has brewed for some time.

The problems in New Zealand cricket are systemic. New Zealand Herald has produced a special report called “The Shame Game” for a week now outlining all the problems and figuring out if there is a way out. The solution is introspection, and rethinking the boardrooms as well as at the grassroots of the game.

On the other hand, here is a paragraph from Brydon Coverdale’s article on the current crisis in New Zealand cricket:

After the miscommunication, it will take some serious man management, and execution of plans, for Hesson to get everyone back on the same page.

I haven’t seen such a dense package of euphemisms since I  last watched Office Space. This is the kind of thing that would work if this was a call center where the biggest problem was that they were getting rid of the coffee machine. Seriously.

The (Lack of) Future Tours Programme

I was looking at the fabled ICC Future Tours Programme to see what’s going on in cricket over the next year:

Future Tours Programme Excerpt: 2011

Each column is the schedule for a single team between April 2011 and October 2011. Notice the two blank columns? Those are two teams who have no international cricket between the World Cup and October.

Those teams are New Zealand and South Africa.

Come October, South Africa still has an interesting few months. They host Australia for 2 Tests and a handful of ODIs, followed by Sri Lanka for another 2 Tests and another handful of ODIs.

New Zealand, on the other hand, has the most dull 2011 in the universe. They play Zimbabwe twice with a tour of Australia sandwiched between. Pathetic.

The History of One Day Cricket: Part I

The One Day International has changed dramatically in its 40 years of existence. Here is part one of my analysis of the game:

Highest Score per team, per year

We’ve come a long way since the ’70s. It used to be a 60-over innings and teams barely got a couple of hundred runs. In 1977, no team made more than 250 in their allotted 60 overs. Every year since 2004, the top eight teams have had a 300+ score every year. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Take a look at how Jayasuriya and company changed the game in 1996. It’s an outlier, so different from the years around it and wouldn’t be surpassed until the batting powerplay was instituted in 2006.

Highest Score of World Cup 2011: 375 by India against Bangladesh

High Scores in One Day History

High Scores in One Day History (click for larger version)

Runs per over per team, per year

We’ve gone from a par average of 4 to a par average of 5.5. In 1994, every team had a yearly run rate of 5 and under. By 2010, every team was over 5. In fact, South Africa finished 2010 at 6 runs per over for the year.

Top 8 Teams Run Rate at World Cup 2011: 5.38

Run Rate by Year in One Day History

Run Rate by Year in One Day History (click for larger version)

Runs per wicket per team, per year

Now here’s something that hasn’t changed much as the game has changed. Even though teams are scoring at a (much) faster pace, the runs per wicket has been largely steady. Barring some outliers (West Indies in the early days, Australia in the last 10 years), the average has barely increased from the upper 20’s to the low 30’s.

In both this chart and the runs per over, Sri Lanka’s progress between say 1983 and 1996 has been the most dramatic. On this chart, Sri Lanka goes from about 18 in 1984 to 38 in 1997. Of note: Australia crossed 50 runs per wicket in 2001.

Also, look how the mighty have fallen. West Indies dominates every chart here for the first decade and then drops off the map. Finally, the era of Aussie dominance ended in 2008- the orange dot on all three charts falls from the top that year.

World Cup 2011: Matches Among Top 8 Teams:
Side Batting First: 29.58 Runs per Wicket
Side Batting Second: 31.61 Runs per Wicket
Overall: 30.49

Average per wicket per year in One Day History

Average per wicket per year in One Day History (click for larger version)

In the next installment, I will present three charts on how the balance of power in one day internationals has changed over 40 years.


  • Only the top eight teams (no Zimbabwe, no Bangladesh) have been considered.
  • The runs per over are for the entire year, with each dot representing a different team.
  • The runs per wicket are for the entire year, with each dot representing a different team.
  • The highest score is the highest score for a particular team in that year.
  • The color code for each country is consistent across all charts.
  • Statistics until the end of 2010 are reflected in the charts.

The First Among Equals

On paper, India is the best of the remaining teams in the World Cup. But on paper strength has never meant much. On paper, India should score 350+ every match. On paper, South Africa should have made the finals of every World Cup since ’92.

Not much separates the top eight teams in the world, mainly because the good teams are inconsistent and the average teams are tenacious. It’s a time of great turmoil, as many teams rush to replace Australia at the top of the world.

In such a tournament, there is no favorite. As the semi-finals are about to begin, there is no obvious choice. This is new territory– Australia have been favorites to win for over a decade now.

In such a tournament, the winner deserves to be the winner by virtue of having won. That is to say, if a team manages to win three knockout games in a row against top-8 opposition, they deserve to be crowned world champions.
The act of winning the World Cup will be the only thing that differentiates one of the remaining teams. And that is the characteristic of a great tournament.

The Two Most Likely Upsets Play Today

Whoever planned the World Cup schedule had a demented sense of humor. Bangladesh play West Indies and Zimbabwe play New Zealand today in the most likely upsets of the tournament.

Except for anything that Ireland may be involved in.

On a side note, Bangladesh actually outranks West Indies in the ICC ODI rankings.

The Associates Portfolio

On the subject of the Associate nations, Ducking Beamers makes a good point:

[O]f all the Associates, I think Ireland and Afghanistan have the most potential. I say this not to disparage the likes of Canada or Kenya or the Netherlands. No, this is simple geography: the Irish are a good team in part due to the proximity to England, and Afghanistan’s squad was born in Pakistan. These teams make sense and we’d be stupid to let them slip back into obscurity.

Now if only someone could come up with a plan to save New Zealand

Like I said, I wouldn’t mind trading NZ and WI for a couple of scrappy associates.