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Perth Scorchers - a Batting Order Dilemma

After 17 overs of the second innings, this morning's Big Bash match looked to be all but over. Perth Scorchers required 18 runs off 17 balls and knew that one of the remaining overs would have to be bowled by Aaron Finch due to an injury to Dwayne Bravo. However, after the wicket of Michael Klinger, the Scorchers would somehow leave themselves needing 7 off the final 3 balls and ended up winning it with a six off the final delivery.

The almost choke from Perth Scorchers led Dan Weston of CricketRatings.co.uk to tweet the following:
This led me to wonder how the various options looked in the stats and what arguments we could make for each of the batsmen.


Firstly, here is a quick overview of the situation. Michael Klinger's dismissal on the second ball of Sunil Narine's final over meant that the Scorchers required 18 runs off the final 16 deliveries. They had Mitchell Marsh at the other end on 25 off 16 balls. In terms of the remaining bowling, Sunil Narine had four balls left, Nathan Rimmington had one over remaining and either Aaron Finch or Tom Cooper were expected to bowl the final over in the absence of Dwayne Bravo.
Which batsman should have replaced Klinger following his dismissal?

Perth Scorchers effectively had five options in terms of who they brought in to replace Michael Klinger - Ashton Turner, Adam Voges, Ashton Agar, David Willey or Sam Whiteman. Let us look at each of them individually before we derives potential strategies.

Batting Options

Ashton Turner
  • Batting rating of 0.91
  • 7.79 balls per boundary hit
  • 18.6% dot balls faced
  • 9 runs off 12 balls with 0 boundaries in 7 innings when coming in during 18th over or later
  • SR of 97.8, 38.0% dot balls and 18.4 balls per boundary during first 5 balls faced
  • Explosive potential with SR of 160.7 in balls 6-10

Adam Voges
  • Batting rating of 0.99 (but drops to 0.82 when chasing)
  • 8.62 balls per boundary hit
  • 22.4% dot balls faced
  • 6 off 4 (2012) and 19 off 9 (2014) when coming in during 18th over or later
  • SR of 106.1, 37.4% dot balls and 10.3 balls per boundary during first 5 balls faced

Ashton Agar
  • Batting rating of 0.83
  • 6.73 balls per boundary hit
  • 33.3% dot balls faced
  • 6 off 4 and 7 off 6 when coming in during 18th over or later
  • SR of 86.3, 53.7% dot balls and 10.6 balls per boundary during first 5 balls faced

David Willey
  • Batting rating of 1.16
  • 5.05 balls per boundary hit
  • 29.8% dot balls faced
  • 44 off 26 balls when coming in during 18th over or later (although skewed by 25 off 9 in one innings)
  • SR of 80.9, 50.8% dot balls and 13.8 balls per boundary during first 5 balls faced
  • Much lower SR against pace than against spin
  • Explosive potential with SR of 166.1 in balls 6-10

Sam Whiteman
  • Batting rating of 0.86
  • 7.98 balls per boundary hit
  • 26.6% dot balls faced
  • 9 off 4, 10 off 8 and 0 off 1 when coming in during 18th over or later
  • SR of 76.0, 47.9% dot balls and 16.0 balls per boundary during first 5 balls faced

Potential Strategies

The advantage that Perth Scorchers had in this situation was the fact that they had Mitchell Marsh settled at the other end with 25 off 16 balls. Marsh is a decent batsman and also a reasonably fast scorer once he is in. Needing just 18 off 16 balls also meant that they didn't necessarily need to do much other than keep the score ticking over with the odd boundary.

Based on this, one potential strategy would be to look for a player to simply get singles to give Marsh the strike straight away. In this situation, we might look at Adam Voges and Ashton Turner as options given their 22.4% and 18.6% of dot balls faced, especially when you consider that this only goes up to 37.4% and 38.0% in their first 5 balls faced. Linked to this, they also have the highest strike rate during their first few balls. However, a concern around Ashton Turner might be the fact that he has struggled in the past when it comes to starting his innings in the closing overs with just 9 runs off 12 balls across 7 innings.

Another strategy might be to look for a big hitter to come in and effectively look to end the match as soon as possible. David Willey (5.05) and Ashton Agar (6.73) are the two options with the lowest balls per boundary stats, although one might also look at Adam Voges who, despite the worst balls per boundary stat overall, actually has the best balls per boundary early in his innings.

A third strategy could be to look for a player with explosive potential, particularly knowing that Nathan Rimmington is far from the best death bowler in the competition and that Aaron Finch or Tom Cooper would have to bowl the final over. In this situation, David Willey and Ashton Turner are the clear standouts - both have strike rates of over 160.0 for balls 6-10 once they have had a few balls to get their eye in.

I would suggest that we can rule out Sam Whiteman as an option in this situation. He is not the fastest starter, does not rotate the strike that effectively early on and does not have the explosive acceleration. Ashton Agar could have been an option, but I feel that even if you were looking for a hitter to end it quickly, there were better options.

This leaves David Willey, Adam Voges and Ashton Turner. With Mitchell Marsh at the other end, Ashton Turner seems like a reasonable option. The stats suggest that he is able to effectively rotate the strike from the start of his innings and he has done this against spinners in the past as well. He also has the benefit of being able to provide the acceleration in the last over or two if Mitchell Marsh falls. The major concern would be that he has struggled coming in late in the past.

David Willey gives the same potential acceleration as Turner, but may have run the risk of getting bogged down facing dot balls early on. This downside also means that if you do not bring him in at this stage, there might not be an optimal opportunity to use him. However, with Marsh at the other end and the upside once he gets his eye in, he is a solid option. Adam Voges brings plenty of experience and has performed well in this situation in the past and with what should be an easy chase from this point, his lack of explosive scoring was unlikely to be a real issue.

There is no obvious correct decision here from the basic stats, but it would be difficult to argue against any of Willey, Turner or Voges. It all really depends on what strategy you feel would give yourself the best chance of winning.

The results of a quick poll on Twitter suggested that people felt that Willey would have been the best option over Voges with just 10% agreeing on Ashton Turner, but that could potentially be affected by the actual outcome.

What actually happened?

Perth Scorchers decided on Ashton Turner, who actually struggled to get off strike against Narine or Rimmington and was dismissed for a very disappointing 1 off 5. As it happened, it should not really have gotten to the 7 off 3 balls as Mitchell Marsh should have hit the ball on which he was dismissed for 6, but it was interesting that it was Voges, then Agar, then Whiteman that the Scorchers opted for as the wickets fell, ignoring David Willey.

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