Thursday, December 12, 2013

lrpl taylor

A year is a long time in sports...

One year ago NZ cricket was mired in a mess. The sacking of Ross Taylor as captain was a case study on how not to do it. It was appalling. Someone should have been sacked. I don't argue with the outcome, as I was one who thought he shouldn't have been the captain in the first place - but the process was unprofessional and, more importantly, demeaning to the person himself.

Taylor took some time out and then came back - and, boy, has he come back. In this current Test he has become the NZ cricketer with the highest Test average (for those who have played more than 20 innings) - higher than Crowe and Turner, Fleming and Sutcliffe. That is an achievement to celebrate.

But there is another achievement hidden away so that only trainspotting cricket-statistics nerds like me will ever notice. Take a look at the list of players with the most catches in Test history from all countries across all times. But look a little closer. Consider the column of catches per innings. The top dozen of all-time - among those with more than 70 catches looks like this:

1. Bobby Simpson  .940
2. Ross Taylor   .904
3. Stephen Fleming  .859
4. Tony Grieg  .813
5. Mark Taylor  .796
6. Graeme Hick  .782
7. Jayawardene   .782
8. Paul Collingwood   .766
9. Graeme Smith .744
10. Greg Chappell   .739
11. Mark Waugh   .738
12. Ian Chappell  .729

But if you know your cricket - reflect on this list for a little longer. It is the stronger bowling teams - particularly with faster bowlers getting nicks into the slips more often - that will produce catchers with higher statistics.

In that list, the Aussies (#1, 5, 10, 11, 12) all come from teams with exceptional bowling resources. So does #9 from South Africa. #4, and to a lesser extent, #8, were part of a fine era of English bowling (but #6 not so much). Only one South Asian (#7), a context known for pitches that are a graveyard for fast bowling.

Which leaves us with two Kiwis way up there at #2 and #3. Neither one comes from the era of Hadlee. Both from weaker Test teams - particularly Ross Taylor. Fiery fast bowlers inducing lots of nicks into the slips? Not in Taylor's era. This is a remarkable achievement. Among NZers, Crowe is only at .546, Coney at .659 (but the safe and gifted, Bryan Young, was 54 from 58 - and .931!)

But across the history of Test cricket, Ross Taylor is one of the most reliable (and unheralded) catchers that the game has known.

nice chatting


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