Analysing this series from a pure numbers point of view and as a portfolio has been very interesting. To see my theory finally come alive has been rewarding. Although I have to admit the data entry has been a slight pain. If there are any good data base programs that can work well with excel then I will be grateful if you let me know.
This was a great series. It was extremely well fought. Sadly the final margin of victory does not reflect how close the series was. South Africa was 7.6% ahead after they levelled the series. This increased to 18.1% for the third test where both England and South Africa made changes. After the third test England was ahead by 9.3% and they ended with a lead of 31.4%. In comparison the West Indies and Pakistan series ended up with Pakistan leading the series by 9.5%. This should generally indicate that the test matches were closely fought. There may be some truth to this. The margins of victory were smaller. All of the matches were won on the fifth day. Apart from this the extra test and the margin of victory would have greatly contributed to the differential. I am not entirely convinced that the difference should be so great. The best way to check this is to create a benchmark or to average the scores.
The player of the series for England was Moeen Ali and for South Africa was Morne Morkel. This is where things get interesting. Root has the most points in the series. He leads Moeen by 1%. The question is whether the all round performance by Moeen Ali is better than the fairly consistent performance by Root with the bat and his captaincy. In my view the role of the captain is vital in cricket. Further this is Root’s first test as a captain. When tests go badly the captain is usually the first head to roll and get criticised . Before Cook and Strauss; you had Freddie Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen who lost their captaincy because of the bad performance of the team. Overall I would be tempted to give the Man of the series to Root. The performance of both Moeen and Root are too close to call.
The numbers do not support giving Morne Morkel the player of the series for South Africa. Yes he bowled beautifully and was unlucky not to have picked more wickets but a millimetre is the difference between not getting any wickets and getting five wickets just like a snick off the bat that could get a batsman out for a duck or the one that leads to a double hundred. For me it is clear that Hashim Amla is the man of the series for South Africa. After Amla the next best performer was Quinton De Kock. However a good portion of his score came from his wicket keeping role.
The top five performers are below
1) Joe Root
2) Moeen Ali
4) Ben Stokes
5) Hashim Amla
The best batsmen are below
1) Joe Root
2) Hashim Amla
5) Dean Elgar
The best bowlers are
1) Moeen Ali
2) James Anderson
5) Kagiso Rabada
De Kock has got more points for wicket keeping than Baristow. Both of them are pretty close for their wicket keeping. The role of the wicket keeper has changed. Your wicket keeper must be able to bat really well. It is in this department where Baristow excelled.
My playing eleven for this series would be as follows.
1) Alastair Cook
2) Dean Elgar
3) Hashim Amla
4) Joe Root (Captain)
5) Faf Du Plesis
6) Ben Stokes
7) Johny Baristow (Wicket Keeper)
8) Moeen Ali
9) Toby Roland-Jones
10) Morne Morkel
11) James Anderson
The only spot that could be up for debate is whether the number Rabada should be played instead of Rabada. You have experience with Rabada. Roland-Jones just started his international career. Rabada did get more points than Roland-Jones but Toby got more average points than Rabada. It would have been nice to have Bavuma in the mix but you can’t pick him over Du Plesis and Ben Stokes has to be in the side.
South Africa did a straight swap where they replaced Duanne Olivier for Kagiso Rabada. Olivier’s performance was well below standard. His economy rate was very high. His strike rate was good but you would expect it to be significantly lower. He just gave too many runs. Of course it can be argued that it really did not matter at the end of the day because South Africa had a big lead. While this could be justified for the second innings where he gave 7.5 runs per over; you really can’t justify his first innings economy rate where he gave 5.57 runs per over. These are closer to what would be acceptable in One Day Internationals and T20’s and not in tests. The result was that South Africa started 4.1% higher than where they finished.
England made a few changes. Gary Ballance was dropped and Tom Westley was brought in at number three. Michael Wood got injured so Toby Roland-Jones was brought in to replace him. Liam Dawson was dropped and interestingly Dawid Malan was brought in to replace him. These changes made the English team look better. It also removed the illusion that Moeen Ali was their second spinner. I was sceptical about Moeen Ali wearing the hat of a spinner early on in his career. However he has improved heavily over the years and definitely deserves the title of the main spinner. These changes meant that England started 22% lower than South Africa.
The headlines may have been about Moeen Ali’s hat trick but this was definitely Ben Stokes games. A fast century and a quick fire 30 along with wickets in both the innings made sure that the deal was sealed. England excelled in their batting and bowling. Westley did reasonably well. I did wish that Malan would have done better. His performance with the white ball recently has been magnificent to say the least. I do hope he is given more chances. For the bug scores England are largely dependent on Cook, Root, Stokes, Baristow and Ali. There are still problems with the opening pair. There is no serious middle order that can be spoken of. Due to the weakness in the batting, the partnership that are essential are Root and Stokes, Stokes and Baristow and finally Moeen Ali with the tail and either Stokes or Baristow.
With this victory we have another all rounder playing an instrumental role and England regain their lead and are 9.3% ahead.
Cricket at the end of the day is a game analysed by numbers and stats but lives because of passion. Moeen Ali’s hat trick was the first in the Oval. It was the third hat trick to finish a test match in the history of test cricket. The last being in 1902. It was the first where all the batsmen who got out were left handlers. History was made. This hat trick will probably be excellent of spin bowling in England because it was done by a person who has come from the Indian subcontinent. The fact that the hat trick was achieved by a spinner in England makes it more valuable than if a seamer would have achieved it.
As expected England played with an unchanged side and South Africa made quite a few changes. Du Plesis was back and captaining the side. Rabada was left out because he was banned for one test. South Africa also made one strategic choice by replacing de Bruyn who is more of a pseudo all rounder with Chris Morris who fits the term all rounder more suitably.
The result was that South Africa started 62% weaker than the English team. This compares to them underperforming England by 32.2% in the first test match. By the end of the test match South Africa was was in front by 7.6%.
Hashim Amla performed extremelly well with the bat. However once again it was an all round performance by Vernon Philander that sealed the match. Hashim Amla scored more runs than Philander. Chris Morris got more wickets than him. Philander's batting strike rate was much better than Amla's which meant that it was worth more. Morris had a better bowling strike rate but his economy rate was bad. Philander had a better bowling average. Faster runs combined with a better economy rate and a bowling average was too much for England. He seemed to be batting and bowling on a different wicket altogether.
My numbers indicate that England bowled better than South Africa. This is definetly because there were better individual performances from England but you had all of the South African Bowlers contributing. I am not too concerned about this because this actually shows the system is working. The match was won and lost in the batting department. The batting of South Africa was 3% better than the last test match. However England was 50% worse.
I am looking forward to the next match. South Africa will definetly bring back Rabada. England will most likely make changes.
The tube strike is on. Waiting for transportation is crazy. LI guess the strike is partially justified. Demanding that the employees that made mistakes be given their jobs back does not make sense. Asking for a rise in pay is acceptable. They are doing a much better job than the bankers. If they can get bonuses then why can’t the tube employees? Besides in my opinion the tube workers provide a more essential service. I should make it clear that I support giving of bonuses to people who perform well in the financial sector. However I think it should be based on a risk reward basis. Possibly more related to the Sortino ratio than Sharpe. The sledging of the Ashes has gone political. Gordon Ramsay called a leading Australian TV presenter a lesbian and “pig woman”. He also recommended that she use Simon Cowell’s Botox doctor. The Australian PM said “I think I can describe his remarks as reflecting a new form of low life. Good on Tracy Grimshaw for coming out and giving him a left uppercut.” Politicians should do what they do best. Let them continue making empty electoral promises and fleecing the tax payers money. I am not only referring to what has been happening in the UK. The rule in politics, finance and to a certain extent in life is”Do what you want to as long as you don’t get caught.” If you do get caught then you have to be ready to face the repercussions. These don’t only hurt the person who caused the mistake and cheated but also other people around. This should be a lesson that we have to learn from the financial crisis and the current political situation in the United Kingdom. I do not know whether the head of Gordon Brown will role. However I am sure that the public has lost faith in the political leaders.