A Response to David 'Bumble' Lloyd re: Eoin Morgan


5th September, 2016.

Yesterday on Twitter I ended up in a discussion of sorts with David 'Bumble' Lloyd, about the England captain, Eoin Morgan.  I also promised Lloyd a response in the shape of an article, as 140 characters on Twitter is far from enough to illustrate a valid point.

Lloyd, a former England cricketer, as well as England coach and Sky Sports commentator, replied to a Tweet from a member of Twitter which questioned that Morgan can't have long left [in the England team].  Lloyd, as is usual, quoted the tweet with a brief reply, of Morgan's scores this series against Pakistan.  '33no, 68, 57no, 11, 10'.  It's difficult to assume that this was anything other than justification for Morgan to remain in the side.  

I assume that most readers (and I'd hope, Lloyd) are aware of the concept of variance, where small samples of data don't prove a great deal.

Lloyd then replied to another tweet on the same lines stating '30 years old, 8 centuries, SR 88' - again clearly putting his weight behind Morgan's retention in the side.

I then replied with 'SR [Strike Rate] of 88 certainly isn't justification to keep someone in team - if all players scored at rate -> 264' [50 over total], to which Lloyd then replied with numerous tweets such as 'Rohit Sharma SR 84', 'Sachin Tendulkar SR 86', 'David Warner SR 91', 'Virat Kohli SR 90', with further discussion about Warner's role in particular as opener.

At this point, I would like to say that other team's players, particularly historical ones like Tendulkar, are absolutely irrelevant to Morgan's position in the England side.  It adds no context whatsoever to the argument. The only comparison to Morgan's position should be whether he is the best English player suitable for his role in the side.  Performances of Indian and Australian players - who may also be nations of different quality batting depths - are irrelevant.  

Eoin Morgan's position in the England side should be based upon English alternatives, not foreign batsmen...

In my preview of the first England vs Pakistan ODI, my adjusted strike rate expectation data [2014-2016] gave Morgan the fourth worst adjusted strike rate of the England squad.  Only Joe Root (who had a much better average), all-rounder Chris Woakes and bowler Mark Wood had worse.  This adjusted strike rate was also boosted for home advantage.  Whilst his adjusted strike rate of 95.12 certainly wasn't poor, his adjusted expected average of 33.04 (again, including home advantage) was significantly below what should be expected of a front-line batsman, let alone international captain.

Looking at Morgan's one day international data, he has scored 4276 runs from 114 career innings, from 4713 balls faced.  This gives him a career average of 37.51, and a strike rate of 90.73 - pretty solid numbers although, as we will find out later, certainly nothing spectacular.

However, if we break down Morgan's ODI batting data into the last three years - from 2014 to today - Morgan's numbers look somewhat different:-

Year

Completed Innings

Runs

Balls Faced





2014

22

560

666

2015

22

967

1031

2016

11

328

377

Overall

55

1855

2074


This data indicates that Morgan has declined since 2014 - in this time period his average has dropped to 33.73 and strike rate to 89.44.  

Furthermore, if we look at Morgan's ODI record pre-2014, we can work out that he played 59 career innings, scoring 2421 runs from 2639 balls faced.  This gives him a pre-2014 average of 41.03 and pre-2014 strike rate of 91.74.

Consequently, we can work out that Morgan, from 2014 onwards, has dropped his average by 7.30 (41.03-33.73) and strike rate by 2.30 (91.74-89.44).  

This shows the obvious danger of using career records, or indeed, short term series records, to justify a player's inclusion in the side.  A sample size of 2074 balls faced post 2014 should indicate a decent sized sample, so the numbers clearly indicate that Morgan's batting has declined from 2014.

Morgan does most of his batting at number four, so I thought it would be interesting to run some numbers to see the average performance of a number four batsman in ODI cricket.

From 2014 to today, number four batsmen played 551 innings, scoring 22323 runs from 26420 balls faced.  This gives a mean batting average of 40.51, and a mean strike rate of 84.49.

Situation

Average

Strike Rate

Mean Average Deviation

Mean SR Deviation






ODI Position 4, 2014-2016

40.51

84.49



Morgan, Career

37.51

90.73

0.93

1.07

Morgan, Career to 31/12/13

41.03

91.74

1.01

1.09

Morgan, 1/1/14 onwards

33.73

89.44

0.83

1.06


If we look at Morgan's data, we can see that in his career he has an average of 0.93x the 2014-2016 batting position four batting average, and 1.07x the 2014-2016 batting position four strike rate.  This would make him a solid, but unspectacular, international batsman.

His data up to the end of 2013 was better, running at 1.01x the 2014-2016 average and 1.09x the strike rate.  He'd have been a useful asset to any ODI team at this level.

However, we can see that Morgan, from the start of 2014 onwards, has achieved a batting average of 0.83x the position four average in the same time period.  His strike rate is still a little better than average, at 1.06x, but it is incredibly difficult to justify Morgan's inclusion in the side on his batting data alone.  If he was a captaincy genius, similar to Mike Brearley, for example, that may be justification enough in keeping him in the side, but that is very difficult indeed to quantify, and captains of this ilk are very few and far between.  It could also be argued that if Morgan was a genius captain, he'd also be in charge of the Test team, instead of Alastair Cook.

Finally, Lloyd also used David Warner as a comparison (despite the fact that he is an Australian opener), so I thought it would be interesting to run some numbers of the Australian's batting expectation, compared to international openers.

David Warner's data showed that comparing him to Morgan was like comparing chalk to cheese...

From 2014 onwards, international openers in ODIs completed 1239 innings, scoring 44117 runs from 51847 balls faced.  This gives a mean average of 35.61 and a mean strike rate of 85.09.  Just by looking at this we can see that openers score a lower average (35.61) than number four position batsmen (40.51) and score at an almost identical strike rate (85.09 compared to 84.49).

Here is Warner's ODI data for that time period:-

Year

Completed Innings

Runs 

Balls Faced





2014

11

406

437

2015

12

652

590

2016

13

655

674

Overall

36

1713

1701


We can see that from 36 completed innings (19 fewer than Morgan), Warner scored just 142 fewer runs than the England captain.  In this period, Warner has averaged 47.58 at a strike rate of 100.71.

Let me remind readers that the mean batting average of openers in this time period is 35.61 and mean strike rate 85.09.  Warner has achieved an average of 11.97 more than the opener mean, at a strike rate of 15.62 greater than the opener mean.  Indeed, Warner's 2014-2016 average is 1.34x the mean opener average, and his strike rate is 1.18x the mean opener strike rate.

Given this, it is patently obvious that the 2014-2016 version of Warner is a world class ODI opener.  It is utterly unrealistic to compare him to Morgan, a middle order batsman whose average in this time period is 0.83x the average of a number four ODI batsman.


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