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  • Squad Building and Selection

    I'm curious how others go about squad building.

    I play the English County game with all three formats active, though I don't bother with the Hundred. My primary focus is the Championship and although I prefer One Day over T20 I have to make T20 my second focus, as unfortunately the lack of prize money and half the players being kidnapped means the Challenge Trophy ends up as a bit of mid season fun for anyone who's still around to play in it. Although I don't particularly enjoy T20 I obviously want to win anything I can and the prize money for reaching the final can be a big plus.

    For First Class matches I have a fairly standard template for most games:

    2 Opening batsmen
    3 Middle Order batsmen
    1 Keeper batting at 6
    1 Pace All-Rounder
    1 Spinner able to bat
    3 Primary Pace bowlers

    I do most of my bowling work rotating the 3 primary pace bowlers (with my own ground set to favour pace bowling) and use the all-rounder for a few overs if someone needs a rest or if I'm approaching the new ball and want the other 3 all at full energy. The spinner I find can vary a lot for me, as some matches the seamers take full control from the start and I barely need to use spin. Other matches the seamers can start to struggle and the spinner can make a big difference once the ball is old enough and the pitch is turning. Sometimes opposing batsmen can be very strong against pace but fall apart once the spinner gets going and other times the opposing batsmen might all be strong against spin and he only sees occasional action. For that reason although it doesn't necessarily need to be an all-rounder I do like my spin bowler to be able to score some runs with the bat, in case he doesn't bowl much.

    In terms of looking for players, my first focus is on 2nd XI 3-Day stats. For batsmen I focus on the average, percentage of 50s/100s (sum of each divided by innings) and highest score. It can vary but in general I've found:

    Excellent batsmen: 60+ avg, 200+ HS, 40%+ combined 50s/100s
    Good batsmen: 50+ avg, 200+ HS, 35%+ combined 50s/100s
    'Ok' batsmen: 45+ avg, 150+ HS, 30%+ combined 50s/100s

    For anyone who's already played plenty of senior games I will also check their First Class stats to see how they compare. If there's a massive difference it might be a player who never fulfilled their potential, and you can also find players whose 2nd XI stats aren't at the top end but they seem to be super consistent in senior matches and play better than you'd expect from their 2nd XI stats.

    After looking at the stats I look for personal preferences. For openers I like at least a slight pace preference, and will use strong pace here too. Their main job is to survive the new ball and get the runs going against pace bowlers, so I'm not keen on a spin opener unless their overall ability looks too awesome to pass up. For middle order batsmen (and everyone else) I tend to favour either slight pace or no bowling preference, as the majority of grounds I play at tend to favour pace bowlers and there are simply less good spinners around. I might still sign a spin specialist if all the stats look fantastic but I will look to train that spin preference away as much as I can. As for foot and side preferences, I like them as balanced as possible no not have big weaknesses. I used to look for off side preference as the majority of balls are on that side but some of my strongest batsmen have had a slight leg preference and I realised that could be down to the early balls being more direct when they're not yet settled. A balanced or slight leg preference might not be so bad for those early overs, and then when the ball is sent more to the offside they're in a more settled state to deal with that.

    When looking for bowlers I go to the 2nd XI stats again first, and here I'm looking at average and strike rate primarily. Again, it can very but I've found:

    Excellent bowlers: 17 or lower avg, below 40 SR
    Good bowlers: below 20 avg, low 40s SR
    'Ok' bowlers: Low 20s avg, low 40s SR

    Seeing someone with 15-16 bowling average and a SR in the 30s is typically a sure sign they'll be off to Internationals before too long. 17-18 average can be a very interesting range, as they can be very strong in county games but maybe not quite enough to see regular international duty. Bowlers around 20-21 average and maybe 40-44 SR can be valuable squad bowlers. They might not be the star of the show but if they're in good form they can still have fantastic matches, and be fairly reliable if your stars are called away.

    If a bowler has 2nd XI stats like 26 avg and 47 SR, for me that's where they really need to be an all-rounder able to perform with the bat. They might do well now and then but there's usually a clear difference to those closer to 20 avg and lower, and they tend not to be the sort you want to head up your attack. As with batsmen I do look at any First Class stats too, but particularly as I like to sign youth players I've found those 2nd XI stats to be a good guide. I do also look at 2nd XI One Day and T20 stats to see if anyone might be a prime candidate for white ball games. Some of the better 3-Day bowlers will also have tgood white ball stats due to their strong ability in general, but often you'll see a bowler with mediocre 3-Day stats while also having quite low economy in One Day and 20 Overs which might indicate they can do a good job in those formats.

    The other thing with my bowlers, particularly spinners but also a plus for seamers, is that I also pay attention to their 2nd XI batting stats. Many bowlers have very low batting stats which you'd expect but if I'm deciding between a few I'll tend to favour those with a better batting average. A bowler with 11 average and a high score of 30 is likely to be out very quickly in first class matches but if your bowlers all have 25+ average and in some cases a high score over 100 you can end up getting some decent scores out of the tail end. I've had some matches where my middle order fell apart but my bowlers dug in for 50s to get me the win.

    Stats aside, I aim to maintain a core first class squad along these lines:

    2 Regular Openers (2 per match) - Def or Avg aggression
    4 Middle-Order Batsmen (3 per match) - Avg or Aggr aggression
    2 Keepers (1 per match) - Def, Avg or Aggr aggression
    2 Pace All-Rounders (1 per match)
    2 Spin Bowlers (some ability with the bat preferred) (1 per match)
    4 Pace Bowlers (3 per match)

    That's 16 I pencil in as the core and should all be players I'd be happy to use week by week with stats/ability of starting quality. Having options in most positions is nice to be able to rotate in form dips, without necessarily putting a weaker player in to do so. As I mentioned before, for the openers I'm looking for strong or slight pace preference and for the rest either slight pace or no preference. I do find that bowlers often have a spin preference, but anyone who's a spin specialist will get that coached down to just a slight pref. For side and feet I'm not too particular - I love to see a balanced player with no preference there but I only use technique coaching to remove strong or slight preferences down to slight. It might not matter that much but I feel it helps not having a glaring weakness. As for aggression, I lean towards Def or Avg for my openers to not be too gung-ho. For the middle order I want a bit more strike rate so I tend to avoid the defensive players and aim for them all to be a mix of Avg or Aggressive. I might use a Very Aggressive batsman in first class games if conditions look really good but any such players are typically signed for a T20 focus.

    An important note here is that I pay close attention to the estimated availability of any International players. If they're listed around 83% I might still expect to use them in most games but need to be prepared to swap them out occasionally with a decent backup. Someone else with an availability of 13% is a complete write-off for me and I plan as if they're not in the squad at all.

    With the core of my first class squad in place I then look at T20, and generally it might only be a couple of adjustments or players to rotate in:

    - Defensive batsmen not starters. More aggressive batsmen preferred,
    - Strike Rate bowlers often rested and Economy bowlers put in.

    Depending on my players this might mean most of the squad is the same as First Class matches (generally aggressive batsmen), while at other times I might have players who simply aren't much good for T20 and get replaced for that. When it comes to squad building I might sign 2-3 players with a focus on T20. For a batsman this might be someone Very Aggressive I'd use for T20 but only use sparingly in First Class, while with bowlers there might be someone who has mediocre average and strike rate for first class matches and only acts as a backup there but can be excellent in T20 maintaining very low averages and economy in that format.

    After adding maybe 3-4 for more T20 focus I might now be at 20 players. This is where I take the Challenge Trophy into consideration, and any further need of backups to cover for injuries or international duty.
    Last edited by Chris_; 09-14-2021, 04:07 PM.

  • #2
    The first thing I do here is list all my players' expected availability. Anyone listed as 83% is immediately flagged as being unavailable for the Challenge Trophy as they'll be off to the Hundred, plus any Internationals I know will be around then too. The remaining 100% players determine where I look for extra backups. If I only have 1 keeper at 100% I'm definitely signing a 3rd to cover for injury. Only 3 bowlers going to be here? I'll try to sign 3 more. I'll use my remaining budget to try to ensure I have some decent backups for each position to ensure I can still put a squad out for the One Day matches without having to use batsmen to bowl, and to not be screwed if my lone keeper gets injured. By the time I've added the backups I'm likely to end up around 25-26 players, depending on how I did the previous year and my available budget. I know that I'm likely to get 2 more youths to try half way through the season to end up around 27-29 but they're pot luck as you never know if they're going to be good or terrible, or what their roles are.

    When signing the backups I don't necessarily focus on One Day stats. As I said at the start, the prize money for that competition is so low that I don't feel it's worth looking for players tailored to that at the expense of other formats. In addition, if you do sign someone on a decent wage who looks excellent for One Day matches they're almost certain to get called up for the Hundred. What I look for is players at 100% availability first and foremost with stats that look reasonable for both First Class and T20. That way if I happen to get a bad run of injuries or unexpected international callups during the main formats I have backup players who can step up and not be awful. Again, the focus is on 2nd XI stats but checking their senior stats where appropriate for any discrepancies. The backups might be batsmen with 2nd XI 3-Day average in the 40s and 32% of innings as 50s/100s, the sort that might be able to score a century or a decent 50 but would be at a lower wage and not one of the first names on the team sheet. Or a bowler with 21 average and 41 SR; not enough quality to get called up for internationals but decent enough that they can play well if you keep their form up.

    As an extra note, the Keeper is one position I will pay good money for. The priority here is reliable catching as it's horrible seeing your keeper drop catches and then see those batsmen go on to settle and score centuries. But as the keeper has to bat a lot I'll pay high wages for a reliable catcher who can bat as well as any pure batsman. The backup(s) can be a bit less skilled with the bat but I still want good catching. If I sign a part time keeper it'll be to play as a batsman and only have to keep wicket if I'm unlucky with injuries.

    For overseas players I often do sign 2 main players, but I aim for 100% availability here. One plus is that they tend to be around for One Day matches but it's also a good opportunity to take someone on a 1 year contract and be able to instantly move on the next year if they didn't justify their wage. I'll often end up with 1 batsman and 1 bowler as main overseas players, and they can easily be the strongest players in the squad if they're clearly of international standard but not quite making their national teams for whatever reason. I might sign a third overseas player on a 20-Overs contract if I have the budget but this depends a lot on how my finances are. If I do it's likely to be a very aggressive batsman. Generally I like players to be available for everything, and it can be a pain having someone you'd love to use in a different format occasionally but can't due to the contract.

    I always keep my youth budget maxed out at 50k as signing and developing youth players is my main focus in the game. For coaching and physio I am willing to drop much lower if needed to grab an extra player but I like to at least have 1 extra physio slot and a couple of extra coaching slots if I need to retrain some preferences or give extra practice to regain form.

    When it comes to keeping players I have a spreadsheet to track performance year on year. If a player is justifying their salary I'll keep them, but if they've not performed as I'd hoped for their cost I'll move on. For younger players who've shown their quality I'll give 3 year contracts to save as much money as I can but once they hit their thirties I reduce the contract duration; partly as their ability can rapidly drop off but also as their salary demands get lower when that happens. For older players it's that balancing act of how much they want versus how much their performance holds up. I might have one player I let go as soon as they hit 32 as they were just doing well enough and any drop off would see them be too weak, while a stronger player might be kept on rolling 1 year contracts reassessed each year to see if they're hitting that point of huge decline or still performing well up to 34 or so. If budget is tight I might let an older player go if I'm worried I'll struggle to pick up enough youths if it's a good batch.

    Anyhow, that was a bit of waffling (I had to split the post it was so long). Interested to hear how others go about things!

    Comment


    • #3
      In terms of selection, I employ the 'horses for courses' strategy for FC and OD games, regardless of form. As for team building, I always make sure I have back-up that can replace first team players. This allows me to play a 2ndXI team in dead rubbers and see how they go.

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      • #4
        The one big difference is that I always look to field three openers. The opening combination is a defensive and an aggressive opener with another aggressive (preferably very aggressive) batsman at three.

        I like the anchoring roll of the defensive opener and the opener playing at three is great as back-up if the aggressive batsman who opened is out quickly. I also find this helps to stop top order collapses. It also means that I carry at least three aggressive openers in my squad which is good for the LO matches.
        Last edited by cde; 09-14-2021, 08:37 AM.

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        • #5
          I have a slightly different approach to signing for the OD games too. Once I have my main squad I look at who I will lose to the hundred then sign as many back-up for the OD matches as I can afford. Since this is a bit of a luxury I look for players who will definitely be around and with good OD averages and sign them for as low as possible on one year contracts. If I am a little pressed for funds the next year or I have a youth player I would rather sign I let can let them go. Unlike Chris_ I don't worry about their other averages

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          • #6
            Fitzroy FC Do you not find that your first choice players perform awfully if they're down on 0-1 star form? I've found this to be a particular issue when players return from internationals or the Hundred, as the good form they had with you can be shot to hell when they're not in your hands. I've had regular players in good form scoring consistently well, then return from the Hundred with no form at all and get ducks or single figures in the next matches. I've taken to giving them 2nd XI matches and extra practice sessions now when that's the case to build their form back before playing again.

            cde 3 openers is interesting. It's something I've done at times when I've had 3 strong openers and not wanted to drop one, but hasn't been something I've targeted. How do you find the 3rd opener does if the first pair settle and he comes in when the ball is no longer new? I take it you feel that's still a better option than a middle order batsman having to face the new ball if one of your openers is out quickly?

            Do your Very Aggressive players still perform well in poor/cloudy conditions?

            1 year contracts for the pure backups / OD cover definitely helps keep things flexible. I do like some reasonable OD stats for the fringe players who're likely only there for the Challenge Trophy but given the choice between a few I'll take someone with slightly lower OD stats but much better FC versus a player with slightly better OD stats and much worse FC. Or rather, what I tend to do is search by 2nd XI 3-Day stats and preferences and then if I have multiple options I'll look at who has the best OD stats. Or if I think the player is really unlikely to ever be needed in FC I'll look at their T20 and OD stats.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Chris_ View Post
              Fitzroy FC Do you not find that your first choice players perform awfully if they're down on 0-1 star form? I've found this to be a particular issue when players return from internationals or the Hundred, as the good form they had with you can be shot to hell when they're not in your hands. I've had regular players in good form scoring consistently well, then return from the Hundred with no form at all and get ducks or single figures in the next matches. I've taken to giving them 2nd XI matches and extra practice sessions now when that's the case to build their form back before playing again.
              I was thinking the same!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chris_ View Post

                cde 3 openers is interesting. It's something I've done at times when I've had 3 strong openers and not wanted to drop one, but hasn't been something I've targeted. How do you find the 3rd opener does if the first pair settle and he comes in when the ball is no longer new? I take it you feel that's still a better option than a middle order batsman having to face the new ball if one of your openers is out quickly?

                Do your Very Aggressive players still perform well in poor/cloudy conditions?

                1 year contracts for the pure backups / OD cover definitely helps keep things flexible. I do like some reasonable OD stats for the fringe players who're likely only there for the Challenge Trophy but given the choice between a few I'll take someone with slightly lower OD stats but much better FC versus a player with slightly better OD stats and much worse FC. Or rather, what I tend to do is search by 2nd XI 3-Day stats and preferences and then if I have multiple options I'll look at who has the best OD stats. Or if I think the player is really unlikely to ever be needed in FC I'll look at their T20 and OD stats.
                I find that it kind of depends on the player as to how they do at three against the older ball.

                I've had young batsmen especially struggle at 3, averaging just 38 or something and once they open they are up into the mid 40s. Conversely I've found some openers really thrive at 3. Of those around in the English domestic league I've found this to be especially true of Ben Duckett for a couple of CCs now.

                I find that if I dial them back in overcast conditions then they do just fine, unless I haven't ironed out their preferences and they are a back-foot spin specialist!

                Something I have experimted with, but doesn't work too often is that if my opening pair put on a good total I don't put in the third opener, I save them and if I lose a wicket with the new ball due/just taken I put them in then. Again there are players this works for and players it doesn't.

                Openers going for next to nothing is an occupational hazard and with a more aggressive player it is more likely but with that back-up at three losing a quick wicket isn't much of an issue.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Averages can be misleading for the regen players.

                  I look at who is demanding lots of wages come transfer time as that's often a better indicator of who is top quality.

                  Also, look to see who gets picked for international side as the CPU knows the underlying abilities of players.

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                  • #10
                    I agree that averages for newgen players aren't always accurate. Some will underperform or outperform their generated 2nd XI averages, while others will remain quite consistent to them.

                    I have one player I signed at 20 on 23,500 salary with 2nd XI average of 52, 5% of his innings as 100s and 29% of them being 50s. I thought he looked like a not very flashy but quite consistent type who might average in the low to mid 30s in First Class matches, someone who ticks along at an ok rate as a backup player without frequent match winning centuries. It turned out that I got the consistent part right but not the scores as his 5 seasons with me have seen his FC average at 20, 20, 22, 22 and 20. As he's played plenty more 2nd XI matches when not being needed I checked his 2nd XI numbers now and they now read as 39 batting average with 2% 100s and 20% 50s. That's much more accurate given his senior performances. I keep him around as his salary is now only 16,500 which makes him a super cheap backup option if needed for the Challenge Trophy and occasional FC matches if I'm unlucky with injuries/international call-ups. To me he's a good example of someone who had potential but never fulfilled it, and his wage reduced to match that.

                    On the other hand I have another player I signed at 20 with 59 average, 13% 100s and 19% 50s at I think 29000 wage. Given his higher average and extra 100s I hoped he'd manage more like a 40 FC average with the ability for match winning performances. He's been exactly as I hoped with averages of 45, 38 and 41 in his 3 years with me and has won matches with great centuries. He's still played numerous 2nd XI games to build form when needed and his 2nd XI numbers are currently still 59 average with 13% 100s and now 21% 50s. Those 2nd XI values are almost identical which indicates they were extremely accurate when he appeared as a newgen and he's a very consistent player. When it came to renew his contract this year I had to pay over 70000 due to how well he's done but he's been worth it.

                    Another newgen appeared with a whopping 2nd XI batting average of 72, and I snapped him up on 27500 wage as he looked like a star. He's now played 16 FC matches and sustained a batting average of 77.76 which is crazy. He's played to that high average and then some, so far. In 24 innings he's had 11 50s and 5 100s, and most of those below 50 have been in the 40s. His innings so far this season are 54, 40, 44, 90, 128, 53, 75, 60*. His average was definitely an accurate indication of how good he'd be, whereas the 27500 wage was pretty much in line with many of the other newgens.

                    So I certainly agree that wage renewals tend to indicate how good a player is now, once they've played enough senior matches and their new wage demands appear when it's time to renew their contract, but for newgen players (and anyone with minimal senior experience) I do find 2nd XI numbers a good indication. Some, like my first example, will fall short. It happens, and it makes sense. But many like my other two examples will perform the way their 2nd XI numbers suggest, from what I've seen. For me it's just a case of paying close attention to them in the first couple of years to see if they're reaching their potential or going to fall away.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chris_ View Post
                      Fitzroy FC Do you not find that your first choice players perform awfully if they're down on 0-1 star form? I've found this to be a particular issue when players return from internationals or the Hundred, as the good form they had with you can be shot to hell when they're not in your hands. I've had regular players in good form scoring consistently well, then return from the Hundred with no form at all and get ducks or single figures in the next matches. I've taken to giving them 2nd XI matches and extra practice sessions now when that's the case to build their form back before playing again.

                      cde 3 openers is interesting. It's something I've done at times when I've had 3 strong openers and not wanted to drop one, but hasn't been something I've targeted. How do you find the 3rd opener does if the first pair settle and he comes in when the ball is no longer new? I take it you feel that's still a better option than a middle order batsman having to face the new ball if one of your openers is out quickly?

                      Do your Very Aggressive players still perform well in poor/cloudy conditions?

                      1 year contracts for the pure backups / OD cover definitely helps keep things flexible. I do like some reasonable OD stats for the fringe players who're likely only there for the Challenge Trophy but given the choice between a few I'll take someone with slightly lower OD stats but much better FC versus a player with slightly better OD stats and much worse FC. Or rather, what I tend to do is search by 2nd XI 3-Day stats and preferences and then if I have multiple options I'll look at who has the best OD stats. Or if I think the player is really unlikely to ever be needed in FC I'll look at their T20 and OD stats.
                      It really is a mixed bag in regards to form in my experience. I've had 5 star batsmen go for pairs and 1 star bowlers cleaning up top orders, happens a lot. High risk selections, such as playing white ball specialists (when required) in FC games, seems to work out well for me most of the time.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I quite like the way the averages are a guide rather than a definite metric.

                        Of the types of players you haven't mentioned are some of my favourites - the players who absolutely smash it one season then stumble around on 1 bar form for a year, even two, then are world beaters for a couple and the young prodigy who turns up and bowls with an average of 18 then slowly tails away year after year.

                        I should hate them but there is something about their presence that appeals

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Speaking of bowlers, I'm at the end of another year so thought I'd share how I track my bowlers as I figure out who's staying and who's moving on at contract time.

                          In the past I'd always focused on Avgerage for FC bowling and Economy for OD and 20 Ovr but I decided that was a bit too single focused. A bowler might have a good average in FC matches to hold an end down but if their SR is really high that doesn't help when you need wickets on the final day to get the win and avoid a draw. Similarly in white ball matches economy is still important, but if you can get that economy bowling the other team out in 38 overs their total score will be a heck of a lot lower than if they last the full 50 (or for 20 overs, bowling them out in 14 overs rather than 20).

                          I changed to using a scoring system for bowlers in white ball matches, with a simple calculation of Average * Economy. In a way this looks at run rate twice, but bringing wickets into the equation puts at least some value on getting batsmen out before they get too settled. I liked the way this seemed to work out with anyone achieving a score of below 100 being really effective and the low 100s being decent or 'on par'.

                          After a couple of years using that I decided to do a similar thing for FC stats, but here I used (Average * Strike Rate) / 10. This maintains plenty of value in the runs:wickets ratio but puts a little more emphasis on the ability to take wickets quickly compared to the average alone. I divided the score by 10 as the values are much bigger using SR rather than Econ, and was quite happy that this brought scores into the same range as OD scores with really effective bowling scoring below 100 and the low 100s still being decent.

                          I've attached my bowler stats after 7 seasons of data (along with 2nd XI stats on the left), with pure bowler names in red and all-rounders in orange:

                          Click image for larger version

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                          To pick out a few examples here, B Coad is someone who's been really consistent for me in taking FC wickets but quite terrible in white ball matches. His data from senior matches ties in with his 2nd XI 20 over economy being poor, but his 2nd XI 3-Day stats of a good average and SR have played out that way in full FC matches. Unfortunately this last season he wasn't the same player, but you can see he just turned 33. I've had him on 1 year contract renewals since turning 30 to see when decline started and the year he turned 33 was it. I expected it, as his wage demands suddenly dropped compared to when he was 32, and the numbers back up that his decline has begun.

                          J Stokes is an example of someone I would've disregarded in the past as his 3-Day stats are poor for a pure bowler, and he never did great when I tested him in FC early on. However, he was never picked for the Hundred so was around for every Challenge Trophy. Although his 2nd XI average remains quite high for both white ball formats his economy there is better than many of my other bowlers, and that's proven to be the case in senior matches as he's turned out to be one of my strongest white ball bowlers in recent years.

                          J Sutherland is a newgen I had high hopes for as an all-format player, due to his good 2nd XI numbers in all three. Although he's not done great in FC matches he was the leading wicket taker in both the 20 Over Trophy and Challenge Trophy this year, something I've never had before. I'll give him another go in FC next year to see if he kicks on there at 24 but it could be he's just a white ball player like Stokes.

                          Finally, a little example of where I have to put things in context. M Waite has had a run of years where his FC bowling score was in the green, but in those years his was mostly the 5th bowler in the team as the all-rounder and often saw use against the tail end while my strongest bowlers saved energy for the new ball. That led to him getting wickets faster than if he was bowling from the start. This year (27) I used him in more of a full bowling rotation and his score of 147 was more representative of what I'd expect from an all-rounder with a reasonable underlying SR but a little more leaky on the runs than a pure bowler.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Interesting way of tracking them, it can make it clear to see where a bowlers strengths lie.

                            When choosing my starting XI in seam friendly conditions I usually pick two seamless based on their economy and two (one usually being an all-rounder) on their strike rate. I like the balance this gives on flatter wickets, being able to dry up the runs for a bit or keep one end dry while attacking the other.

                            If the conditions are spin friendly I will look for one spinner with a good strike rate and one with a good economy for the same reasons.

                            Waite's bowling makes the point that when you use a bowler and the combinations around them can make a big difference
                            Last edited by cde; 09-22-2021, 09:50 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have been enjoying finding out the limits of otherwise successful squad by playing a little online and it has helped me to see the difference that successful combinations have made in my offline games.

                              Offline my bowling attack has been relying on three front line bowlers and two all-rounders. My opening pair average 13.27 and 15.68, then the first if my all-rounder comes in at 17.49 and the second at 18.05. Last but by no means least in comes my spinner, averaging 13.57. A nice little line up.

                              The big challenge is that once you go online pretty much every team is a strong team, either an IPL franchise stuffed with internationals or a domestic team that has been developed over time, so you are essentially testing your players out at international level.

                              As I kind of suspected this has exposed my all-rounders. The opening pair are averaging 14.83 and 20.05 so the all-rounders are coming in to both better players and more of them because the openers are taking less wickets. The one is averaging 24 but the other 34 and has been dropped for online games. The spinner is ripping it up at 9.87.

                              The most interesting thing is seeing how the elements work together and build momentum. Offline the openers build momentum, which makes it easier for the middle-overs bowlers. Online the second bowler is not quite effective enough which puts pressure on the middle order bowlers, which exposes their weaknesses and allows momentum to shift towards the batting side.

                              The search is on for some better T20 all-rounders!

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