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By Gaurav Joshi
Australia regained the little urn by once again steam rolling the English tail for the 6th time this series. While on the other side of the world, South Africa bowlers also knocked over the Indian tail comprehensively.
The way Mitchell Johnson and co have blown away the English tail time and again, it begs the question — Is the bounce and the pace of Australia and South Africa the hardest place for tail-end batsmen to score runs?
Tailenders never like copping with a barrage of bouncers, especially when are delivered at over 140kmh on pitches that are fast and bouncy. The simple reason is because they are intimidated by it, and don’t like to get behind the line of the ball fearing the ball thudding into their body.
But are they more technically efficient of standing up and facing the spinning ball because they have no fear of ball hurting them? Are tailenders more likely to prosper in India on a turning deck rather than on bouncy pitch like the WACA, GABBA or the Wanderers?
The average runs scored after the 6th wicket has fallen (as shown below) also indicates that Australia is toughest place for the tail to wag, whilst a team is likely to squeeze more runs out of the tail in England.
|Criteria (excludes host nation)||
In South Africa
|Avg Runs for the last 4 wickets (last 5 years)||67||69||72||82|
|Avg Runs for the last 4 wickets (last 3 years)||56||52||70||92|
|Last 4 wickets adding less than 50 (last 5 years)||26||15||15||19|
|Last 4 wickets adding more than 100 (last 5 yrs)||7||7||13||17|
The table above further illustrates the Australian bowlers’ dominance over the opponent’s tail-end batsmen. The most significant stat is — out of 47 occasions, Australia bowlers have blown away the tail for less than 50 runs on 26 occasions, that is 55%. Surprisingly, England is ranked at two, suggesting the weather conditions dictate the resistance of the tail.
Below is the table consisting of averages of tailenders across four different countries over the past five years. (Only four of the countries were selected as each of the nations below have an outstanding record at home over the past five years and each of the team were the number 1 team in the world over the past five years)
Averages for Batting Positions (Number 8 – Number 11) in the last 5 years
|No 8||No 9||No 10||No 11||Total|
Stats above do not take into account wicketkeepers or batsmen batting at number 8 during an innings in which a nightwatchmen was used. Wicket keepers’ statistics have only been considered if they would have batted at number 8 in the order.
Based on the table above, Australia and South Africa are the most difficult places to bat for the tail-end batsmen. A batsmen lower down the order is more prone to scoring runs against the swinging ball in England rather than the bouncing ball in Australia.
Furthermore, the tailender have not had much success in reaching scores above 50 in Australia and South Africa.
|Criteria – Exl host nation (last 5 years)||In Australia||In South Africa||In India||In England|
|Centuries scored by Number 8, 9, 10, 11||0||1||0||1|
|Half-Centuries by number 8, 9, 10, 11||2||2||5||6|
|Highest Score by the tail (8 – 11)||62||123||99||106|
Number 8 batsmen have not made a hundred in Australia or in India in the last five years. (Matt Prior scored a 100 in Sydney, but batted at Number 8 because James Anderson was promoted as a night watchman). Johnson achieved the feat in South Africa in 2009 and Darren Sammy for the West Indies in England in 2012. Mitchell Starc was on the brink of scoring a hundred in India only to be dismissed for 99.
Overall, Australia has distinctive edge over the other three nations in dismissing the tail and it is clear the tailenders are likely to prosper away from the hard bouncy pitches of Australia and South Africa.
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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