"...was dismissed just before the close of play"
Russell Degnan

Very few statements carry the sense of irresponsibility quite as much as being dismissed right on the close of play. A new player needed at the crease, perhaps in failing light, the opposition with their tails up. The night-watchmen exists purely to shield batsmen from that eventuality, should it be necessary. Which begs the question, who is the most irresponsible batsman?

To work this out I counted the number of times a batsmen was not out at the close of play, and the number of times there were dismissed within 10 runs of the score at the close of play, to find a percentage. The overall percentage amongst players surveyed is 18.9%. If this seems high, note that the expected average partnership is around 30, and therefore, all things being equal, a batsman will be dismissed within 10 runs of an average partnership 1/6 (or 16.7%) of the time.

Let's start with the dependable batsmen:

Set BatsmenNot OutDismissedTotal 

This is filtered by batsman well set (had scored 20 runs already) and more than 20 instances of being around at the close. As you'd expect it consists mostly of players with exemplary techniques and a willingness to come back tomorrow to score more.

At the other end of the table are some surprises:

Set BatsmenNot OutDismissedTotal 
de SilvaPA2383125.8%

A few of these players could be described as lazy or overly aggressive, but it is nevertheless a surprise to see greats such as Weekes, Lloyd and Miandad, or a batsman as consistent as Richardson, getting out 30 of the time they are present at the close of play. Perhaps more surprising is the presence of two current England players in Pietersen and Strauss, and Cook (31.6% off 19 innings). You can never rule out pure bad luck in this type of statistic, but "declared half an hour before the close of play" might be worth considering for the Australians this summer.

Turning to the benefits of night-watchmen, the percentage of dismissals overall climbs to 29.9% for all players not set (less than 20) dismissed before the close. That is, a batsman is 50% more likely to be dismissed before the close if they are new to the crease. The players being dismissed the most aren't too surprising, though perhaps their level of vulnerability is:

Unset BatsmenNot OutDismissedTotal 

Shane Warne was perhaps not the best choice as a night-watchman. Other notably high players, batsmen, include openers Greenidge (33.3% off 27 innings) and Gooch (30.3% off 33), and candidates for a night-watchman: Thorpe (30.8% off 26), Ponting (30.4% off 23) and Lara (27.3% off 22). At the reliable end:

Unset BatsmenNot OutDismissedTotal 

Thus saving me the ire of the Indian blogging mafia. Surprisingly, Clive Lloyd almost made this table at 10.0%. Note the high position of potential night-watchmen Anderson and Russell.

Finally, there is a perception that Michael Clarke ought to be in these lists on the negative side. Perception is easily influenced by specific events. In this case, Clakre is no worse than most, being dismissed 4 times in 23 (or 17.4%) of the time when set, and 3 in 11 when not (27.3%). What mattered, is that those four times came in important games, twice in the 2005 Ashes at crucial times in games that were lost; again crucially, in a loss to India in Mohali in 2008; and once in 2009 in the draw in Cardiff. Like scoring runs, sometimes context counts.

Cricket - Analysis 21st November, 2010 14:18:29   [#] 


"...was dismissed just before the close of play"
You can never rule out pure bad luck in this type of statistic

You can get a gauge on this by looking at the p-values (how many batsmen made the sample?), or finding the standard deviation of z-scores.

I'd also suggest regressing all the values to the mean to get a better estimate, but in a sample that includes both Tendulkar and Danny Morrison, that idea probably needs a bit of work. Each batsman would need his own mean, perhaps modelled on their average and an associated hazard function or something.
David Barry  24th November, 2010 16:12:45  

"...was dismissed just before the close of play"
thanks David, there were 101 batsmen in the first sample (>= 20 closing innings while set) - avg: 16.57%, stdev: 6.35%. And 130 in the second (>= 15 closing innings while not set) - avg: 22.02%, stdev: 10.28%. It is interesting to look at who has or hasn't performed well, but I'd be very hesitant to ascribe batsmen with numerous failures to something other than luck, given the limits of the data set.
Russ  24th November, 2010 21:39:25  

"...was dismissed just before the close of play"
Those stdev's look very close to what the binomial distribution would give. Just taking the average number of innings in each pair of tables, the set batsmen should have a standard deviation of 7% (0.189*0.811/31), and the non-set batsmen about 10% (0.3*0.7/20). The numbers change a bit if you replace 0.189 and 0.3 by 0.1657 and 0.2202 respectively, but basically it looks like most of it is down to chance.
David Barry  24th November, 2010 23:06:24  

"...was dismissed just before the close of play"
Something else to chew on: the correlation between the two sets is negative (-0.14), with an R^2 of 0.01. Neither set correlates with average either (R^2: 0.00 and 0.01). I wouldn't say it is 100% luck whether a batsman is dismissed right on the close of play (surely there must be some skill?), but it is pretty close to it.
Russ  25th November, 2010 19:04:43