Who Will Master Time Tomorrow? The Importance of the Scoring Rate in Long Distance Cricket

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Third Man hopes that George Dobell (again), Freddie Wilde and Peter Miller won’t mind if he singles them out for taking the position that, in Test cricket, scoring rates don’t matter.

“Look, there was a whole day left in that Test, England’s/Carberry’s/Compton’s/Boycott’s  slow scoring rates are not important. We need more batsmen grinding it out. Dig in.”

Google ‘why the scoring rate is important in cricket’ and you will get page after page of links to post after post saying that ‘whereas the scoring rate is important in ODI it isn’t in Test match cricket.’

Of course you’d find it impossible to get that opinion from someone who has played big cricket.

Here’s a go at explaining why coaches want batsmen in IIs, County, State and Test cricket to press on the opposition through the scoring rate and why grinding it out is counterproductive and will get you the sack:

In no particular order:

A high scoring rate puts pressure on the bowler and reduces his effectiveness.  It has a similar effect on bowlers waiting their turn.

Upping the scoring rate reduces the number of fielders in close catching positions and allows batsmen to get away with mistakes.

By spreading the field, the batsmen make room to knock singles.  Bowlers hate change and love routine.  They relay on rhythm and hate having to recalibrate their attack each time a single or a three is scored.

Bowlers don’t like 1s, 2s,3s,4s and 6s being knocked off their bowling, to state the obvious.

Batsmen like scoring 1s, 2s,3s,4s and 6s.  Mysteriously it helps them see the ball earlier and ‘bigger’. The move more freely and more instinctively.

Upping the scoring rate puts pressure on fielders and makes for more misfields and dropped catches.

It also puts pressure on the fielding Captain, jazzing the quality of his thoughts.

Increased scoring rates create momentum.

Now momentum is a mysterious concept and it is natural that a time traveller, like Third Man, is more at home with the idea.  Momentum changes the way time is experienced.  In the case of the batting side gaining momentum, it slows time for them and quickens time for the fielding side.

That is why cricketers playing for the counties are taught quite early on – say when they are twelve – to hurry things up when they are taking wickets and to slow things down when they aren’t.

Batting is especially about slowing time down so that it all goes further; more time.

A batsman with a slow scoring rate creates pressure for the guy at the other end and for those who are coming in later, just as much in 4 and 5 day cricket, as in ODIs and T20. He quickens time for his partner. That is why it is the great sin in batting.

Just remember when you are having sweet dreams about Geoff Boycott’s batting that only Bob Barber ever managed to score runs at the other end; (Did Gooch, once?) that he dominated the batting order at a time when England rarely won Test matches – digin – doesn’t win.

Anyone who finds this hard to accept might do worse than to read True Colours, by Adam Gilchrist (Test s-r 80+)

Not wishing to labour the point about Millenials too much, but one of them, David D. Burstein, titled his book about them, Fast Future.

You know what they say at the Pavilion at the Edge of the Universe; “Fast Future:Slow Time”

Today, Haddin (75 from 90 balls faced) mastered time. Ask Smith, Johnson and Harris what it felt like for them. Or Anderson, Broad, Cook?

Who will master time tomorrow?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Who Will Master Time Tomorrow? The Importance of the Scoring Rate in Long Distance Cricket

  1. Freddie Wilde

    Interesting piece.

    I’d just like to say, in my defence really, that my point particularly regarding scoring rates in Test cricket is that “in theory” they shouldn’t matter to the batsman, and in this Ashes series they have.

    The premise of scoring rates mattering is often built on the idea that were a batsman not to score fast he will become frustrated and feel the pressure etc and then give his wicket away. And although this is true, my point was largely that a batsman should be able to resist such pressure; that is, if you like, the art of batting time. Resisting the urge to score is something England have failed to adhere to, and I don’t /blame/ them as such, but it is more inherently the failure on their part to apply the tactics we know they adopt.

    I have given this, and the wider approach of England some thought as their struggles have perpetuated during this tour, and the conclusion I am reaching is that the brand of cricket played by England, one based largely on an avoidance of defeat primarily, rather than a quest for victory; one that involves time-wasting and other such negative-minded strategies, will soon be forced to become a tactic of the past. One that will be usurped by a more aggressive brand of cricket; and that doesn’t just mean scoring rates, but other quantitive and non-quantative measures too.

    • Freddie, it is most kind and typically generous of you to take the time to share your thoughts so fully here:

      Your piece http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1731771-ashes-2013-why-do-england-play-like-they-do and the Old Batsman’s http://theoldbatsman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/andy-flower-plays-moneyball-card.html are vitally important for anyone wishing to understand a key characteristic of the culture operating out of Camp England and the National Performance Centre.

      Add in Vaughan’s extraordinary statement in the Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/theashes/10550821/Ashes-2013-14-Kevin-Pietersen-must-be-made-England-vice-captain-to-confront-yes-men.html

      “You can see the team are completely scared to death of Andy.”

      And his reminder that:

      “All the fingers have been pointed at him (Cook), and to a certain extent Gooch, while Flower has largely escaped criticism. But this is his unit. He has more influence over the England team than any of his predecessors as coach.

      And it can be seen that Flower is the problem. He is the creator of the culture against which England players have rebelled over the last 60 days in the only way their sub-conscious knew.

      He must go, but it is the bath water and not the baby as well that needs to be discarded.

      If you will forgive TM, para one of your comment and para two seem inconsistent.

      You write, “The premise of scoring rates mattering is often built on the idea that were a batsman not to score fast he will become frustrated and feel the pressure etc and then give his wicket away.”

      This is a commentator’s view. It is mythical. Batsmen don’t say or think that. Nor do coaches. See the piece for why scoring rates matter.

      TM must dash. The Squire has been asked if he can drive the Blacksmith over to Loughborough today. It would seem that smoke has been coming from the server – you know that big machine at the back of the nets that TM always thought was the climate control mechanism – it seems it is just one huge computer. Heck knows what its for 😉

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