Why your team’s late barrage of sixes is bad news for them

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A run doesn’t have a set value. That is a recurring theme of this website. The value of a run derives from the game in which it is scored and in all honesty can only accurately be gauged with hindsight. Up until the moment a match is finally decided, all we are doing is gathering evidence and sharpening the picture.

Quite often in a one-day international, the team batting first will whop a load of sixes at the end. For all that one-day cricket has changed, it’s still not the worst strategy to build some sort of a base before taking more and more risks as the innings wears on. However, the more sixes that are hit in this late period, the more you should think that will in fact be the team batting second who will ultimately win the game.

It’s almost as if every six is worth minus six. As mishits and flat skimmers clear the ropes, the value of a ‘maximum’ – and therefore the value of a run – becomes clearer. Each late innings six brings with it the ghosts of two others that weren’t hit earlier on.

Even at its farthest extreme, cricket is never exactly ‘most sixes wins’ – but it is still an indicator; a signifier of how easy it might be to score runs on a given day.

Sometimes those spectacular finishes are only really a sign that a side should have aimed higher.

This is an updated version of an article first published in January 2017.

16 comments

  1. Quite similar to when your team puts on a 50 run partnership for the 9th wicket in a Test to drag themselves up past 350. On the one hand it’s great, but on the other you start to think “Oh-uh….”

    The first real problem with this way of playing (which is obviously still about a billion times better than the old way) might be starting to show itself. At the start, England scoring 350 probably melted the minds of the opposition and was sufficient to win at a canter. Now, there must be a feeling that all the extra runs the batsmen score can be dragged back by all the runs the bowlers concede when England bat first.

    As an aside, I can’t believe the “deep 5th slip” fielding position hasn’t been utilised in ODI cricket yet. Some of the sixes were amazing, but every good ball seemed to be nudged down to 3rd man for an easy single. Keep 3rd man in still, but I cant understand why teams just let this happen when the steer is a second-nature to batsmen as a forward defensive was 20 years ago.

  2. That may well be the reason why Kohli chose to chase after winning the toss and reject the conventional wisdom in India to bat first in ODIs.

    On a pitch where run scoring is that easy, it may be more advantageous to have a set target to chase rather than bat first and try to assess what would be a good score. Especially if you’re as good as Kohli in a run chase.

    From an Indian perspective, it’s interesting that Kohlis captaincy approach seems to be based on his own batting strengths. Dhoni would probably have chosen to bat first.

    1. Excellent points by Uday, I would also add that when batting first you are taking a risk if you try to push the pace early before seeing exactly how the conditions are panning out.
      Hindsight is 20/20 but had England hit a lot of sixes only to lose cheap wickets and be bowled out for a low total they would have been excoriated in the press for being irresponsible. From the players perspective even when batting conditions are ‘easy’ there is still self imposed pressure on them to get it right*.

      *Unless you are an enormously talented spud like David Warner who will attempt to heave the ball out of the park from the outset regardless of conditions.

  3. Agree with the above points about pacing an innings despite the ease of the pitch.

    But the other point is that England did keep losing wickets at inopportune times.

    Not one really big innings. Not one really big partnership. As with test matches out there, it is usually one of those “big-big” jobbies that seals the deal.

    I think we need to entertain the possibility that the best team at playing in those conditions won the match.

    We can, at the moment, also entertain the possibility that England is one of the best ODI sides in the world. Only in those subcontinental conditions does England look second or third best just now.

    Sunday’s loss did not leave me feeling gloomy in the way that, until recently, England’s ODI losses seemed almost inevitable and the result of England really not being up to the job in that format. Progress but not perfection.

      1. 985 FC wickets. Getting that close to a record like that and then retiring really irritates me. Just let him play a few games this season for God sakes.

  4. “Your team’s late barrage of sixes is bad news for them” – proof that Yer Maj is a Bayesian. Top stuff.

  5. My worst fears confirmed.

    For once I wrote a grown up comment on this site yesterday – see above.

    Come the morning, the Chinese beauties have gone, only to be replaced by a scarily-wide-eyed blond “mature dating” offer.

    I don’t feel very well any more, this morning.

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