PREVIEW - T20 BLAST FINALS DAY 20/8/16


Friday 19th, August 2016.

Purists may disagree with me, but the T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston (Birmingham) tomorrow is arguably the pinnacle of the English domestic game and with three matches scheduled for one day, it is a long day for the players, fans, and traders alike.

All matches will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports 2, with the first match starting at 11am UK time, with the final likely to conclude just before 10pm, assuming there is no rain.

Sadly that assumption is far from a given, with the radar I use showing rain for large chunks of Saturday, and it is likely we will see delayed/shortened matches.  Sunday is the reserve day and it may well come into use, particularly considering that the drainage around the Midlands grounds is usually poor - as highlighted in this article.

Ground data is always useful for pre-match analysis and trading plans, and my ground database has a decent sample of T20 matches at Edgbaston from 2014 onwards.  

1st Innings Scores:-

Highest Score: 242
Lowest Score: 86
Mean Score: 158 
Mean 1st Innings Runs Per Over:- 7.97

The above stats indicate that in the first innings, the venue has a very marginal edge to bowlers, with the mean first innings score almost identical (0.6 below) to the T20 first innings mean, and the runs per over around 0.09 runs per over below the T20 first innings mean.

Chasing Teams:-

65% of chasing teams in the sample at Edgbaston have won or got within 10 runs of the 1st innings totals - this is almost exactly the mean percentage for chasing teams around the world from 2014 onwards.

Overall Venue Data:-

Mean Runs Per Over: 7.98
Mean Runs Per Wicket: 25.11

The overall venue data shows that the runs per over is a touch below the 8.08 worldwide T20 sample mean, and the runs per wicket of 25.11 is almost identical to the 25.10 worldwide mean.  There really isn't much to suggest that this is venue which favours either bowlers or batsmen.

It is also useful to look at the Edgbaston Finals Day data in isolation, with the table below showing data from the seven years that the Finals Day has been held at the venue:-

Year

Match 1





Match 2





Match 3






Balls

Runs 

Wickets

RPO

RPW

Balls

Runs 

Wickets

RPO

RPW

Balls

Runs 

Wickets

RPO

RPW

















Overall

1570

2026

77

7.74

26.31

1522

1895

92

7.47

20.60

1605

2146

93

8.02

23.08

2013- 2015

697

977

30

8.41

32.57

667

782

44

7.03

17.77

669

963

38

8.64

25.34


The data suggests that there is a slight increase in runs per over from 2013-2015 as opposed to the overall data, which is fairly understandable given that there has been a huge increase in run scoring in this more recent period.  

What is more interesting to look at is that the runs per wicket has decreased from match one, in both the overall and more recent data.  Considering this, it's reasonable to say that the pitch becomes more difficult to bat on, particularly in match 2 for some reason.  This would definitely be something to think about when making trading decisions.

Furthermore, the average Edgbaston Finals Day runs per wicket is 23.16, and runs per over 7.75 - well below the T20 mean.  If we look at the more recent 2013-2015 data (as older data is less relevant as the T20 format has evolved) then it rises to 24.30 runs per wicket and 8.03 runs per over, a little below the T20 worldwide mean.  All told, there is very little cause to think that the venue will be hugely batsman friendly.

Before I look at the teams competing in Finals Day, it's worth looking at the odds for the two semi-finals, with this link showing the latest Oddschecker page for Finals Day odds.

At the time of writing, on Betfair, Notts are around 1.64 best price to beat Northants, and Yorkshire a similar price to beat Durham.  
To win the event outright, Yorkshire are currently favourites at just under 3.00, with Durham, at 6.60, the underdogs of the four teams.

Semi-Final Fixture Squad Information:-
Please note that the Adjusted T20 Blast average takes into account innings difficulty from players' matches around the world, and relates them to the standard of the T20 Blast.  Generally speaking, it is easier to bat in the T20 Blast than most domestic T20 leagues around the world.  For example, Jonny Bairstow would not have an adjusted batting average of 35.87 if he was playing in the Caribbean Premier League, where batting conditions and bowler quality would be different.

Match 1:-

Notts Outlaws vs Northamptonshire Steelbacks:-

The Squads:-

Notts

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Strike Rate

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Economy






Jake Ball

N/A

N/A

27.13

8.67

Stuart Broad

7.97

101.21

26.75

8.15

Dan Christian

28.53

146.05

40.69

8.82

Luke Fletcher

8.97

114.10

25.56

7.99

Harry Gurney

3.75

76.32

26.26

8.00

Alex Hales

27.88

141.08

N/A

N/A

Michael Lumb

26.20

134.66

N/A

N/A

Steven Mullaney

16.00

142.37

26.64

7.71

Samit Patel

30.59

126.53

25.97

7.16

Chris Read

16.20

142.11

N/A

N/A

Andre Russell

28.64

172.84

22.57

7.97

Greg Smith

28.56

123.10

N/A

N/A

Imran Tahir

N/A

N/A

17.49

7.57

Riki Wessels

35.23

136.83

N/A

N/A


Northants

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Strike Rate

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Economy






Alex Wakely

30.36

122.83

N/A

N/A

Azharullah

N/A

N/A

28.29

8.99

Moin Ashraf

N/A

N/A

24.85

7.69

Josh Cobb

29.38

129.18

27.38

8.09

Steven Crook

23.54

125.84

30.59

8.43

Ben Duckett

27.30

126.00

N/A

N/A

Richard Gleeson

N/A

N/A

17.00

6.08

Rob Keogh

16.44

124.37

N/A

N/A

Adam Rossington

22.15

141.18

N/A

N/A

Rory Kleinveldt

17.78

172.04

31.52

7.99

Richard Levi

34.50

145.10

N/A

N/A

Graeme White

14.63

156.00

31.32

8.51

Ben Sanderson

N/A

N/A

22.64

8.00

Rob Newton

18.67

124.06

N/A

N/A

* All N/A batsmen have little batting data, mainly due to being out and out tail enders

1st Innings Model Predicted Scores:-
Notts: 170
Northants: 163

Best teams, as selected by data (batting order subject to game state):- 

Notts: Hales, Lumb, Wessels (wk), Christian, Russell, Patel, Smith, Mullaney, Fletcher/Ball, Broad, Gurney

Northants: Cobb, Rossington (wk), Duckett, Wakely, Levi, Crook, Kleinveldt, White, Sanderson, Gleeson, Ashraf 

Betting market prices on Notts and Yorkshire are similar yet Notts only enjoy a projected 7 run advantage over Northants, as opposed to the 14 run advantage that Yorkshire are predicted to have over Durham.  On that basis, Yorkshire look to be a much better betting proposition than Notts.

Notts have a difficult decision with their overseas players - only two of Dan Christian, Andre Russell and Imran Tahir are allowed to play, and basically the decision is Russell - one of the premier all rounders in the world - and one other.  Conditions are likely to dictate whether Christian or Tahir play, and with rain predicted, it is likely that the Aussie batting all-rounder Christian will get the nod.

Andre Russell's inclusion is a huge boost for Notts...

If Christian plays, Notts would do well not to let him touch the ball in the field - his bowling data is horrific and given the depth of bowlers that Notts have, there really is no need for him to bowl.  It is anticipated that Stuart Broad - who has had little T20 experience in recent years - will play and he'd just about get into my preferred Notts XI.  Jake Ball would not, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he was picked.  Russell, Samit Patel, Harry Gurney and Steven Mullaney also provide bowling depth, whilst Luke Fletcher has reasonable three year data despite not recording good numbers this year.

Notts have superb batting strength, indicated by their 170 being the highest projected first innings of the four semi-finalist scores by my model.  With six likely starters at or above the 134.5 average strike rate, there really is no excuse for them not to be able to either post a challenging target or to chase a decent score.

Northants basically look like the cricket equivalent to a 'Moneyball' team.  None of their batsmen have strike rates below 122 and this reduces the chances that one of their batsmen will play a 40 (40) style match losing innings by wasting too many deliveries.  I also like the fact - as Notts also do in Riki Wessels - that they have a wicket keeper batsman in Adam Rossington capable of playing high up the order, which enables them to squeeze in further batting or bowling depth, or both.  It wouldn't be a surprise if these positives were by design as opposed to by accident.  Statistically, Richard Levi is their key batsmen but Rory Kleinveldt has a fearsome strike rate and could be a very useful lower order hitter.

Rory Kleinveldt has a very high strike rate with the bat...

Richard Gleeson is a new name this year but the paceman has recorded some amazing numbers.  However he got injured on Thursday in the Royal London defeat to Surrey and his fitness has got to be in question.  He would be a massive loss with no other Northants bowler capable of having much better than average numbers.  

The data in the squad details also provide plenty of in-play trading options for taking on various batsmen or bowlers, depending on game state.


Match 2:-

Durham Jets vs Yorkshire Vikings:-

The Squads:-

Durham

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Strike Rate

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Economy






Mark Stoneman

22.49

127.76

N/A

N/A

Keaton Jennings

28.00

121.15

27.50

7.50

Jack Burnham

18.56

109.16

N/A

N/A

Gordon Muchall

39.38

119.77

N/A

N/A

Michael Richardson

15.77

110.22

N/A

N/A

Ryan Pringle

10.33

125.25

79.00

9.12

Paul Collingwood

22.39

118.12

26.95

6.52

Scott Borthwick

11.54

89.82

20.47

7.68

Usman Arshad

13.36

121.49

21.56

8.58

Mark Wood

7.73

112.77

26.50

6.63

Chris Rushworth

6.21

85.08

26.52

7.54

Ben Stokes

19.05

146.60

38.32

9.47






Paul Coughlin

12.64

132.43

21.19

8.90



Yorkshire

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Batting Strike Rate

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Average

T20 Blast Adjusted Bowling Economy






Jonny Bairstow

35.87

131.65

N/A

N/A

Gary Ballance

16.40

117.99

N/A

N/A

Tim Bresnan

27.61

142.06

32.83

8.65

Andrew Hodd

11.80

110.28

N/A

N/A

Jack Leaning

34.76

140.71

N/A

N/A

Alex Lees

26.28

122.90

N/A

N/A

Adam Lyth

18.47

144.04

N/A

N/A

Steven Patterson

11.50

87.34

25.18

8.15

Liam Plunkett

16.84

148.52

21.96

7.70

Azeem Rafiq

13.05

112.19

15.92

6.68

Adil Rashid

16.61

113.02

23.73

7.20

Will Rhodes

10.45

113.86

20.69

8.97

Joe Root

45.80

142.43

50.21

9.72

Matthew Waite *

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

David Willey

25.90

153.83

22.82

7.97

* Not enough data on Waite

1st Innings Model Predicted Scores:-
Durham: 152
Yorkshire: 166

Best teams, as selected by data (batting order subject to game state):- 

Durham: Stoneman, Jennings, Burnham, Muchall, Collingwood, Stokes, Richardson (wk), Coughlin, Borthwick, Wood, Rushworth

Yorkshire: Lyth, Willey, Bairstow (wk), Root, Leaning, Bresnan, Lees, Plunkett, Rashid, Rhodes, Rafiq

Yorkshire enjoy superiority with a predicted 14 run advantage over Durham, and it would be a big surprise if the Vikings failed to advance to the final.  Much has been made of their mediocre performances this year, but it's not a huge surprise that they've struggled to impress, but are fancied to do well tomorrow, given the absences of England key men Bairstow, Plunkett, Rashid, Root and Willey at various points.  

For example, consider the impact that picking Andrew Hodd (11.80 adjusted average, 110.28 adjusted strike rate) would have over picking Jonny Bairstow (35.87 & 131.65) when Bairstow is on international duty.  There is so much more to consider than Bairstow being just a better batsmen - Hodd has to get hidden down the order which puts more pressure on the batsmen to perform/shoves Bresnan and Plunkett a space further up the batting order, as well as reducing bowling options with the need to pick another batsman.  Bairstow picked up a finger injury against Kent yesterday in the Royal London Cup quarter-final and if he is ruled out, Hodd's inclusion would dramatically reduce the difference between the two sides.

Jonny Bairstow's absence would be badly felt by Yorkshire...

Yorkshire welcome back England star Joe Root, and his batting expectation numbers are phenomenal for this competition.  Bairstow - from an average perspective - would also be a boost, and it will be interesting to see whether David Willey retains the opener role he has performed with aplomb in recent matches.  Jack Leaning also has really decent numbers for the competition.  Captain Alex Lees, less so - he doesn't even look an average T20 Blast batsman, which is a pretty damning indictment of his abilities given the poor level of this competition compared to foreign T20 domestic leagues.

Bowling wise, Yorkshire have depth and boast players much better than Tim Bresnan currently.  Whilst Bresnan isn't quite in the Dan Christian bracket, he shouldn't be bowling much with the depth Yorkshire have.  England players David Willey and Liam Plunkett are the big name bowlers, whilst Azeem Rafiq has magnificent T20 Blast numbers.  Joe Root is another player who shouldn't be anywhere near bowling.

Durham's batting is very poor indeed from an adjusted strike rate perspective.  Of their likely top/middle order batsmen, only Ben Stokes can boast a rate over 130, and this had a big impact on their modelled first innings predicted score.  For Durham to post a big target, or to chase one, Stokes is going to have to hit a superb knock, and statistically in T20, that happens pretty much never...

Stokes also has injury issues and apparently will not bowl.  Based on his bowling expectation numbers, that will do Durham a favour as he would be likely to go for plenty.  Paul Collingwood is in decline but has been economical, even this year,  whilst Mark Wood and Scott Borthwick are better than the average bowler in this competition.  Ryan Pringle is someone that should be prevented from having a bowl.

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