An Assessment of English County Signings for 2019

9th October, 2018.



If this article has given you insight into the data that Sports Analytics Advantage can offer cricket teams around the world in formulating recruitment/selection strategies or tactics, please get in touch at sportsanalyticsadvantage@gmail.com.


Now that the English county season is over, recruitment from counties has accelerated.  By my count, 27 new signings (either from other counties, or Kolpak) have been announced among the 18 teams.  It is highly likely that there will be a substantial amount of additional signings over the coming months, in advance of the 2019 season.

As would be expected when recruiting, some candidates will offer greater potential than others. The benefit that sport has over an office-based job, for example, is that an astute club can use historical role-performance data to assess potential recruits.

This enables the identification of:-

1) Players good enough to compete for a first-team position in the current squad
2) Players currently better than their positional rivals
3) Players that have the future potential to be better than the current squad

During my contacts with a number of clubs’ Directors of Cricket, I have been able to demonstrate the likely benefits of utilising data in player recruitment and retention.  Some counties are certainly beginning to see the value that actionable data brings, even if only as a second opinion or in some cases, a third opinion when two decision-makers have different views.   As can be seen, the goal is to steal a considerable competitive advantage over rivals. While nothing is certain in life, it makes total sense for teams to include the analysis of data, if only to reduce the likelihood (and expense) of a bad acquisition.

Increasingly, I am being asked to prepare reports for counties for either specific players, or a group of players in a particular category, such as the following:-

- Qualifying Kolpak signings
- Potential overseas signings
- The preparation of database of players who are on ‘out of contract’ lists circulated to clubs in advance of their expiry

My work enables teams to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of various players across all three formats. In addition, it provides an indication of how a particular new signing might fit in among the current squad.  Below, I have included some examples. It should be noted that the reports I have provided to counties are much more detailed than the ones seen below, but the examples should give some insight into what I can provide for cricket teams, both in England and throughout the world.

Furthermore, by taking this data-driven approach, a forward-thinking county can steal a march on their rivals from a time perspective.  The out of contract lists are circulated in April, with players contracts expiring at the end of September.  Therefore, even in April, counties can have a complete actionable database of players who they can either immediately target, or do further due diligence on, throughout the season.  This is also the case for overseas players - with the IPL and World Cup taking place at the start of the English 2019 season, quality overseas players are in short supply, and a team who doesn't act quickly in this regard will suddenly realise that the majority of decent, available, overseas players have been signed by their rivals.

However, the purpose of this article is to discuss each of the 27 new signings in detail, using data to discuss the players' varying abilities.  Not only is data useful to target viable players to improve a team's current squad, it also helps teams to avoid wasting money on bad signings.   Of the 27 new signings, the average contract duration is 2.74 years (according to media reports), so it's probably reasonable to assume that many of the contracts given have a value in excess of £100,000.  

A bad signing can be very expensive...


Division One:-

Aneurin Donald (Batsman, Glamorgan to Hampshire) - Age 21.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 25.48
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 21.32
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 146.24
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 144.3
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 130.1

Aneurin Donald is a 21 year old batsman, who has seen his career stagnate a little in Wales over the last couple of season, particularly from a red-ball perspective, and with this in mind, some may have been surprised at this move from Division Two to a Division One.

Certainly, Donald's current Division One expected batting data, based on our algorithm, isn't particularly impressive, but this only tells part of the story.  At 18 years of age, he averaged 32 in Division Two, and at 19, he averaged just over 36.  If I put this into my age curve predictive tool, this data from a younger age would have given him future England potential, and he frequently cropped up in my previous analysis of worldwide top performers at a young age. 

Even if we disregard Donald's recent troubles with the red ball (and he's far from unique among batsmen in the English county game in experiencing this), his white-ball data also has decent potential.  While his current Blast expected average, at just over 21, isn't the best, his expected strike rate is pretty strong, and he has solid numbers against both pace and spin.  For the last two years in the T20 Blast, he has hit around 20% of deliveries faced for boundaries, and this year in the Second XI, his boundary hitting prowess was even more impressive.  Astute readers may be wondering why his expected strike rate is higher than his major T20 league strike rate against either pace or spin, and this is because the expected strike rate also takes into account Second XI data, while the pace/spin data does not.  With this boundary-hitting ability, and slight bias towards pace bowling, Donald can have a real impact opening in the PowerPlay, where he can take advantage of the fielding restrictions.

I also like this signing given my doubts over a number of Hampshire batsmen, and the retirement of Jimmy Adams.  All things considered, plus the fact that he should have a fair amount of improvement left in him at his age, this looks like a pretty reasonable calculated gamble by Hampshire, and one which could quite conceivably yield plenty of upside.  

James Fuller (Pace All-Rounder, Middlesex to Hampshire) - Age 28.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 21.70
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 39.16
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 25.56
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 149.35
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 181.1
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 28.53
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 9.49
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 10.43
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 9.97

James Fuller is a 28-year old all-rounder, originally from New Zealand, and is another player who has joined Division One Hampshire from a Division Two team in advance of the 2019 season.  

Based on my expectations, it would take a fair degree of improvement to see Fuller have much of an impact on the Hampshire squad in the four-day format, given that his batting and bowling expected numbers are below average.  He's played the vast majority of his county matches in Division Two, and we have to go back to 2012 to see him average below 30 with the ball - not to mention that this was in the Division below where Hampshire are playing next season.

Moving onto T20, things are looking more positive for Fuller.  He has excellent expected batting numbers, particularly from a strike rate and boundary perspective (this year in the Blast, he boundaries in around 20% of balls faced, and just under 9% for six) and also of interest is his elite-level 181.1 strike rate against pace from 2016 onwards (although from a small sample, his strike rate against spin was much less impressive).  With this in mind, Fuller looks capable of playing several batting roles in the Hampshire team - either as a pinch-hitter at the top of the innings, or as an end of innings death batsman, and his signing should bolster what was a misfiring T20 batting unit this year.

Bowling-wise in T20, I feel that Fuller will need to be used in very carefully profiled roles in order to maximise his output.  His overs 1-6 economy rate isn't impressive at all, while his overs 17-20 economy isn't great, it is definitely not as much of an issue.  In the middle overs, Fuller's economy was a much more reasonable 8.30, so it seems sensible to avoid bowling Fuller in the PowerPlay, and instead, using his overs during the middle overs and in some cases, at the death.  

Fuller's bowling data also invokes an interesting debate as to how a player's role in their team can influence their career.  An all-rounder with Fuller's batting expectations, in conjunction with an economy rate of 8.30, would surely be on the radar of T20 franchises around the world.  However, he's bowled 42% of his overs in the PowerPlay for Middlesex in the last two years, which has caused his basic data to arguably make his bowling look worse than it actually is.  Players also need to be acutely aware of their own detailed data so that they can push team management to be used in their best roles - their future earning power can often depend on it.

Keith Barker (Pace All-Rounder, Warwickshire to Hampshire) - Age 31.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 26.36
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 25.01
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 14.51
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 134.63
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 30.97
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.70
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 7.94
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 10.00

Hampshire's signing of two pace all-rounders, who have differing abilities, is interesting.  The aforementioned Fuller is more of a white-ball specialist, while the 31 year old Barker's talents are perhaps a little more focused towards the red-ball format.  Perhaps they have signed the duo to complement each other, as opposed to be direct positional rivals.

It appears that the decision-makers at Warwickshire/Birmingham felt this about Barker, at least.  Barker didn't play in the T20 Blast this year, and from 2015 onwards, made just 11 first-team appearances in the game's shortest format, and while he played more in the 50 over competition, he still averaged less than five appearances per season for them in the Royal London Cup, from 2015 onwards.

I actually think that Barker has something to offer in T20, certainly from an economy perspective.  His overall Blast economy expectation of 8.70 isn't a disaster at all, and his 2016+ overs 1-6 economy rate of 7.94 is quite acceptable.  If Hampshire are to use Barker's bowling in T20, it would make sense to do so earlier in the innings, which rather conveniently is where I wouldn't recommend they bowled Fuller - perhaps they can both play different roles in the same T20 team.

Without doubt though, based on my algorithm's expectations, Barker should be a big boost for Hampshire's bowling stocks in the County Championship next season, as well as being a more than capable lower-order batsman.  A two year contract (from media reports) makes a lot of sense given that he will turn 32 during the winter, and given that his 40 wickets this season cost less than 17 runs per wicket in Division Two, he certainly seems to be far from any age-related decline currently.

Fred Klaassen (Pace Bowler, to Kent) - Age 25.

I don't have a great deal of data on Fred Klaassen but from what I can see, he looks a very interesting prospect indeed.

Klaassen qualifies as a non-overseas player due to being a Dutch national, and possibly also due to being born in Sussex, and from the data I have, looks to have a great deal of white-ball potential, in particular.  From a fairly small sample, he's had huge success for the Netherlands in the 50-over format, taking wickets at below 20, with excellent economy, and this data compares very well to previous Dutch players who have played English county cricket.

In addition, Klaassen was the leading wicket-taker in the Dutch 50 over domestic competition this year, and will bolster a rapidly improving Kent squad which did have a need to address some pace bowling economy issues in white-ball cricket - he, and Matt Milnes (below) can address these issues nicely.

This looks like a very astute signing from Kent, recruiting a player at a good age with further improvement likely - plenty of upside here.

Matt Milnes (Pace Bowler, Nottinghamshire to Kent) - Age 24.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 12.77
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 29.82
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 12.95
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 118.24
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 22.96
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 6.57


Until the mid-point of this season, the 24 year old Milnes was yet to make his debut for Nottinghamshire in any format, his pathway to the first team blocked by a plethora of other pace bowling options.  The unfortunate Ben Kitt, who has suffered from injury, was in a similar position.  Despite this, Milnes was quietly putting in some superb performances in the Second XI across the various formats.

In the last two years for Nottinghamshire in the Second XI, Milnes has taken 34 Championship wickets at around 22, at an economy rate of just over 3.  In the Second XI T20, he's taken 13 wickets at 15.69 and at an economy rate of 6.38.  There are very few bowlers - if any - who can boast these numbers in the Second XI across multiple formats in recent years, leading to my surprise that it took Nottinghamshire this long to give him a chance in the first team.

With Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores a noted devotee of statistics and data, I'm surprised he let Milnes slip the net until June this year.  However, Nottinghamshire's loss is Kent's gain, and they've recruited a bowler with high potential at a good age, with a great deal of upside across all formats.

Ben Duckett (Batsman, Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire) - Age 23.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 36.99
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 32.78
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 138.17
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 132.3
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 147.8

Duckett, along with Ben Slater, made their move towards Nottinghamshire near the end of the current season, joining on loan for the last few matches before signing a three-year contract, according to media reports.

There's not a lot of discussion needed here - Duckett should have been a popular choice among numerous Division One counties, with obvious ability across formats.  I particularly like his T20 data, which shows a rare (for English players) slight preference towards spin bowling - something which should stand him in good stead for potential franchise league contracts in the subcontinent in the future.

Before moving on, one further area that I want to discuss is Duckett's future potential level.  I mentioned earlier that Aneurin Donald's data when younger gave him England potential - Duckett's younger data gave him world-class potential, and it would be a real disappointment if he didn't kick on in his career to be an England regular for many years.  There's quite a big gap between an expected Division One average of around 37, and being a mainstay of the England team, so Duckett should be looking to use this move to Nottinghamshire propel himself to being a regular Division One 1,000+ run scorer in county cricket.

Ben Slater (Batsman, Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire) - Age 26.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 33.05
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 20.50
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 128.00
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 113.0
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A

Having discussed Duckett's signing for Notts as an absolute no-brainer, Derbyshire opener Slater's recruitment is worthy of deeper discussion.  While Duckett, so far in his career from a red-ball perspective, peaked in 2016 (1,338 runs from 22 completed innings), and hasn't been able to come close to those numbers again, Slater has shown consistent improvement over the last few years and statistically, looks a much better batsman than he did several years ago in the four-day format.  If he carries on this improvement, I'd anticipate Slater being able to nicely improve on these expected Division One average figures, and if he can do so, may even put himself into the frame for an England call-up in a position where the national team currently have positional upheaval.

Slater's first XI T20 data in recent years, however, has been unimpressive.  He's not been an automatic choice for Derbyshire, and has scored 75 runs in 7 completed innings in the last two years in the T20 Blast, with a strike rate barely over 100.  However, it would be easy just to look at this surface data and write him off, and a deeper look at his data gives me an indication that he could be a better T20 batsman than these basic numbers suggest.

Firstly, his 2017+ Second XI T20 data is good, particularly from a strike rate perspective, although he also has a solid boundary percentage in these matches as well.  This shows that he does have a decent strike rate in his locker, which is far from guaranteed for all T20 batsmen.  In addition, he's got excellent 50-over batting data in the last three years, demonstrating that he's a more than capable white-ball batsman.  It will be interesting to see if Notts give him opportunities in white-ball cricket next season.

Joe Clarke (Batsman, Worcestershire to Nottinghamshire) - Age 22.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 39.52
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 25.93
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 158.45
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 156.4
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 143.8

Clarke is the third batsman recruited by Nottinghamshire, joining the Midlands outfit following Worcestershire's Finals Day triumph, and relegation.  Based on my current expectations, Clarke should be slightly ahead of Duckett in the England Test conversation, with a higher expected Division One average than the ex-Northants man.  Furthermore, Clarke's T20 strike rates have really kicked on in the last two years, and he surely has to be in the thoughts of overseas franchises looking to recruit a batsman adept at facing both pace and spin.

With Duckett's signature rumoured to be coveted by counties, Clarke's was equally so, and Nottinghamshire have gained an excellent all-format batsman at an age where further improvement is highly likely.  Should such improvement continue, perhaps Notts' primary worry will be how long it will take before they lose him to England.

Zak Chappell (Pace-Bowling All-Rounder, Leicestershire to Nottinghamshire) - Age 22.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 29.52
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 25.25
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 9.60
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 128.03
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 30.58
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 9.73
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 10.21
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: N/A

The fourth signing for Nottinghamshire - the most active team in the player market at the time of writing - is Zak Chappell, another player rumoured to have attracted interest from numerous counties.

Chappell has been discussed by the media as having future England potential for some time, so this competition for his signature wasn't unexpected, whatsoever.  However, until this season - save for some strong performances in red-ball Second XI matches, Chappell hadn't done a great deal to justify the hype.

It's fair to suggest that the recent season has changed a great deal.  He took 16 Second Division wickets at around 16 runs per wicket, and from limited activity, also performed well with the bat as well.  He could quite conceivably slot into their team as a genuine all-rounder in red-ball cricket.  If he can continue such progress, it wouldn't take great imagination to think that he will be another player that Nottinghamshire lose to England eventually.

With the white-ball, however, I'm less convinced, at least currently.  Chappell is yet to make an impression with the bat in T20, and went at almost 10 an over in the T20 Blast this season.  In addition, he was very expensive when bowling in the first six overs.  Despite this, he was bowled in the first six overs in just under 40% of his Blast overs.  He was more economical in other areas of opposition innings, going for 9.30 runs per over during the middle overs, and from a small sample, a very respectable 8.93 runs per over in overs 17-20.  

Overall sample sizes of data in these bowling phase splits for Chappell are still quite small, so there is an element of danger in assuming that they are quite stable numbers, but certainly, Nottinghamshire may want to bear these in mind initially when looking at potential bowling roles for Chappell in T20 matches next season - if he can continue, or even slightly improve, these death bowling numbers, then they could uncover a very valuable death bowler.  

Jack Brooks (Pace Bowler, Yorkshire to Somerset) - Age 34.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 20.06
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 30.38
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): N/A
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): N/A
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 31.83
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 7.48
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 7.87
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: N/A

Jack Brooks turned 34 in June, and according to media reports, has signed a three-year contract with Somerset.  Given that he will turn 35 during the early stages of next season, I feel that there is an element of risk in such a long contract for a player of Brooks' age, despite his wholehearted performances for Yorkshire, particularly at the end of the current season.

If we look at Brooks' County Championship Division One data over the last few years since he signed for Yorkshire, there is a slight worsening of his bowling data as he gets older:-

Year

Overs

Runs

Wickets

Average 

Economy







2013

241.0

859

34

25.26

3.56

2014

523.3

1906

68

28.03

3.64

2015

420.8

1480

65

22.77

3.52

2016

432.3

1501

60

25.02

3.47

2017

205.0

865

23

37.61

4.22

2018

346.5

1430

51

28.04

4.13


There has been a big jump in his bowling economy rate since 2016, as well as the last two years producing his worst bowling averages.  Indeed, by the 28th August this season, when it was announced that he was signing for Somerset, he had taken 28 wickets in Division One for Yorkshire at an average of 30.93 - his 2018 season numbers actually improved for Yorkshire having announced he was leaving them.

It is, of course, impossible to know the reasons for the drop-off in Brooks' numbers over 2017 and 2018, and it is more than possible that a move to Somerset can re-invigorate his career.  However, given his age, it is also prudent to point out that awarding a three-year contract for a player in their mid-30s is also a risk.

In addition, Brooks, in recent years, has almost solely been used by Yorkshire as a red-ball bowler.   He hasn't played List A cricket since 2016, and until this season, hadn't played in the T20 Blast since 2015.  Ironically, he actually performed reasonably well for Yorkshire in the Blast, averaging a touch below 30 with the ball, and with decent economy both in the PowerPlay and the middle overs, and this might provide Somerset with a further option next season in T20.

Jordan Clark (Pace All-Rounder, Lancashire to Surrey) - Age 27.

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 28.95
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 31.42
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 26.83
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 135.71
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 148.4
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 112.5
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 29.06
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.60
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 9.45
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 10.12

Jordan Clark was a smart acquisition by Surrey, with the ability to add quality throughout both red and white ball formats.

Looking at his expected red-ball data, he looks a pretty capable batsman and bowler who will definitely add depth to a Surrey squad frequently having issues with losing players to England duty, and it seems likely that the current county champions were not the only county keen on the ex-Lancashire man.

Clark's T20 data is a little more complicated, primarily because he's been used in so many batting roles.  He's opened five times and hasn't fared superbly (averaged 15.50 at a strike rate of 124), with most of his outings coming in the 5-7 batting position (average of just over 24, strike rate just over 130).  

I'm not a fan of assigning a player a batting position, or even judging a player necessarily by batting position, because the required roles and skill-sets for the same batting position can be considerably different.  For example, a number five coming at 30-3 after six overs will almost certainly play a different type of innings to a number five coming in at 130-3 after 16 overs, but both get lumped into the same batting position data.  I feel assigning a general role, or several general roles, for a given player - having suitably assessed their data - makes a lot more sense, and my clear position is that teams with an inflexible batting order in T20 are giving up so much expected value.

What skills does Clark have as a T20 batsman?  From the data above, it appears that he has a considerable preference to pace bowling from a strike-rate perspective, so it seems logical to bat him either at the start or the end of an innings where pace bowlers tend to bowl more.  

What I've also noticed is that despite having a boundary percentage of around 13% across the last three years in the T20 Blast - a pretty unimpressive figure - he has a very similar percentage of sixes and fours, which is quite unusual.  Most players will hit many more fours than sixes (the worldwide split in recent years is around 70-30), so his six-hitting figure is strong, and his four-hitting figure is weak - a very rare dynamic for a player.

Perhaps a possible area of improvement for Clark would be to dial up the aggression a little, keep this six-hitting percentage stable, but to look to double his four-hitting percentage - a natural increase in his strike rate which would come from this would likely propel him into franchise league consideration, given his contributions with the ball as well.

I'm a little torn about Clarks' bowling data.  His second XI T20 data, both from 2016 and 2017, indicates he can bowl with decent economy, and that data in isolation translates well to good economy in the T20 Blast.  However, he's gone at around nine runs an over in the Blast, with worse economy than this both in the PowerPlay and at the death.  Clark's middle-over economy - around the 7.60 mark - is much more acceptable and, as with Fuller, perhaps hasn't been used in a T20 bowling role by his former county which best suits his talents.

Liam Plunkett (Pace Bowling All-Rounder, Yorkshire to Surrey) - Age 33

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 26.92
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 33.91
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 12.57
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 147.2
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 158.7
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 33.23
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.61
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 8.83
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 9.00

Plunkett turns 34 at the start of the 2019 season, and with this in mind, has to be given the same caution as the aforementioned Brooks regarding the three-year contract which was awarded, based on media reports.

With assignments for England and T20 franchise teams, Plunkett's availability for Yorkshire was far from guaranteed, and I do have some sympathy for counties who prefer to focus their efforts on players who are more likely to be consistently available for selection.  In reality, it is extremely difficult (some may even go as far as saying it is a mutually exclusive proposition) for counties to be successful (both financially and on the pitch) as well as being effectively a feeder team for England.

It will be interesting to see how often Surrey have the opportunity to pick Plunkett.  He played IPL for Delhi last season, and is likely to also be in the England World Cup squad, so it would seem probable that early-season appearances will be constrained, at the very least.

When Surrey do get to pick Plunkett, they are likely to benefit from his lower-order hitting ability in white-ball cricket - he can devour pace bowling late in an innings - and also his death bowling, a talent which hasn't always been used by previous club Yorkshire.

Yorkshire have used nine different bowlers in overs 17-20 in the last two seasons of the T20 Blast, with Plunkett actually being used extremely infrequently.  Steven Patterson, Tim Bresnan and from a smaller sample size, David Willey, have been their main death bowlers - in the last two years, Patterson is the only bowler of this trio with a single-figure death economy rate.  

It's difficult to ascertain why Plunkett wasn't used at the death much by Yorkshire, but given that their mean death over in these two years cost just short of 10 runs, and they took wickets at an average of around 25 in death overs, perhaps he should have been.

However, it is also interesting to note that Plunkett has played just two County Championship matches across 2017 and 2018, while this year, Plunkett has averaged 48.27 in T20s in 2018, taking just 11 wickets at an economy rate of 8.61.  For me, given his age, these would be a worry for the future, although his ODI wicket-taking data for England this year is solid enough. 

Craig Miles (Pace Bowler, Gloucestershire to Warwickshire) - Age 24

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 15.89
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 31.25
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 11.72
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 103.25
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 21.38
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 6.95

Miles, along with Liam Norwell (below), are two pace bowlers who are moving from Gloucestershire to Warwickshire during the off-season.

As mentioned with some previous players, it is always worth factoring in the move to a higher division when looking at red-ball expectations, and Miles' expected Division One bowling average is solid enough, and he's at an age where further improvement is possible.

A quick assessment of Miles' bowling numbers in T20 cricket is also useful.  He's got incredibly good second XI T20 data, averaging around 15 with the ball across the last two seasons, and given that his 2015+ Blast data reads 15 wickets at just over 18 and at an economy rate of around 7.5, it is perplexing that he wasn't used much by Gloucestershire in the game's shortest format.

This looks a pretty smart acquisition by Warwickshire - they've picked up a bowler who can contribute across all three formats, and who is at an age where he can still improve.  

Liam Norwell (Pace Bowler, Gloucestershire to Warwickshire) - Age 26

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 13.15
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 25.34
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): N/A
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 35.23
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.06
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 9.24
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: N/A

Liam Norwell is the second Gloucestershire pace bowler to move to Warwickshire, and its worth noting that Norwell missed the second half of the season with injury, prior to announcing his switch to the Midlands club.

However, Norwell is at a good age and has produced excellent numbers with the ball for Gloucestershire in red-ball cricket, showing improvement from the mediocre figures recorded in 2013 and 2014 - he's taken over 170 wickets in first-class cricket across the last three seasons, at around 23 runs per wicket.

These numbers, plus continued improvement, translates very well to future Division One success, so assuming full fitness, Warwickshire should have high expectations for Norwell in the future, in red-ball cricket.

Norwell hasn't nearly impressed as much with the white ball, at least in first-team cricket.  He's struggled to take wickets in both List A cricket and the T20 Blast in recent years, but I do feel that there is a decent short-format bowler in there, at the very least.

A glance at his Second XI T20 data would suggest so, at the very least - he's taken wickets at around 15, at an economy rate of around 6, in the last three seasons for Gloucestershire 2nd XI in the T20 competition, a complete difference from his expensive T20 Blast data.  It is difficult to know why he's been unable to translate this excellent Second XI data to the first team, but if he can, then he could well be an asset for Warwickshire in more than one format.

Josh Poysden (Spin Bowler, Warwickshire to Yorkshire) - Age 27

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 7.58
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 33.31
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.36
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 123.86
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 34.45
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 7.78

Poysden, a 27 year old leg break bowler, moved to Yorkshire towards the end of the 2018 season, initially on loan, prior to a permanent deal.

While it's probably fair to suggest that my algorithm data puts him in the solid, as opposed to unspectacular, bracket, I do feel that there is some cause for optimism for Yorkshire supporters here.

Poysden showed considerable red-ball improvement this year in the Midlands, with great numbers in the Second XI Championship, and it's also worth noting that he took 15 wickets at just over 20 in Division One just two years ago.  

In addition, Poysden's numbers in the Second XI T20 competition in 2016 and 2017 were great, showing a wicket-taking threat, in conjunction with good economy, so he evidently has the potential to perform well for Yorkshire in the future.  Certainly from an economy perspective, he should be a boost for Yorkshire's spin bowling attack in T20 cricket.

Mat Pillans (Pace Bowler, Surrey to Yorkshire) - Age 27

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 19.70
Expected Division One Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 30.35
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 16.07
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 102.13
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 29.86
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 9.06
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 8.89
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 8.15

If you found a bowler who cost just over eight runs an over at the death, while taking wickets at around 15 runs per wicket, he'd be considered to be in the upper echelons of T20 bowlers.  This is Mat Pillans' data in overs 17-20 in the last three years (in one of the highest scoring leagues in the world, as well), and yet one gets the suspicion that this has completely flown under the radar.

Certainly, given Yorkshire's death bowling numbers detailed above, it would look almost mandatory that they saved Pillans two of the four death overs from next season in T20, and if he can continue with such data in this role, would make him a real asset for his new county.

In a similar vein to Norwell in white-ball cricket, Pillans hasn't been hugely successful in the first team in red-ball cricket, but there's evidently a good bowler there, based on red-ball Second XI numbers.  

Given the depth of pace bowling talent that Yorkshire have, it might be a tough task for Pillans to feature regularly in the four-day format, but if he can convert these good Second XI numbers to the first team, he should be a useful acquisition.

Will Fraine (Batsman, Nottinghamshire to Yorkshire) - Age 22

Expected Division One Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 27.19
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 27.62
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 131.46

It's certainly important not to judge Fraine on what is pretty mediocre first-team data currently, from a small sample size.  Even including the Second XI, data still isn't plentiful on the 22 year old Fraine, but from what I have, he looks a better white-ball batsman than red-ball, albeit at a good age where he is open to further improvement.

His Second XI batting data, particularly in white-ball cricket, is decent, and he hit just over 20% of balls faced for boundaries in this year's Second XI T20 matches that he played in.  Interestingly, for Notts' first team this year, he also wasn't far off hitting one in five balls for boundaries, but had a low strike rate, indicating that he almost certainly had a very high dot-ball percentage.

For some reason, he had three innings batting in the latter stages of the innings (at 7&8) for Notts this year in the T20 Blast, which is a perplexing move - he looks more like a conventional opener (where he performed very well for the Second XI this year).  On a side note, I'm not a fan of shoehorning young batsmen into batting line-up low down the order as is often the decision of T20 teams - a team needs to put as many round pegs in round holes as possible, and in many of these cases, this is clearly not doing so.  If a young player is perceived to be good enough to be picked for the first team, at least play him in the role where he has succeeded for the Second XI.

Fraine's potential problem at Yorkshire is that their top three in white-ball cricket is relatively settled - it will be interesting to see his role next season, and it could well be that he's one who has been signed with an eye on the future.

Division Two:-

Alex Lees (Batsman, Yorkshire to Durham) - Age 25

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 32.13
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 44.95
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 142.16
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 116.3
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 141.9

Previously, I mentioned that Aneurin Donald and Ben Duckett featured prominently as players who were far ahead of the average player at an earlier stage of their age curve, and Alex Lees completes the hat-trick of players in this regard - he's another one who showed definite England potential from an early age.

It is difficult to envisage how a 21 year old who hit almost 1,000 Division One runs at an average of over 40, and who hit over 1,000 runs at the age of 23 at a similar average, can have red-ball numbers which have dropped so markedly, but this has happened to Lees, whose expectations - based on my algorithm - have now dropped to an average of just over 30 in Division Two.

However, I still feel that this is an excellent signing for Durham - Lees will strengthen their first XI across formats.  His T20 expected data is excellent, and strangely for an English player, shows a preference towards spin bowling from a strike-rate perspective.  Could he be most useful for Durham in the middle overs, in T20?

It's impossible to know why Lees' career went wrong in the latter years at Yorkshire, but Durham have a huge upside that they clearly signed have a player who has, at one point in his career, shown top-level potential.  

Ben Raine (Pace Bowling All Rounder, Leicestershire to Durham) - Age 26

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 20.16
Expected Division Two Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 24.67
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 24.88
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 144.34
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 140.9
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 154.9
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 32.67
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 9.77
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 8.33
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 11.94

Durham's second acquisition of the off-season so far is Ben Raine, who has returned to his native North-East, ready for the 2019 season, and this signing will be perceived as a real coup - I am sure Division One teams will have also been interested in Raine.

Looking at his red-ball expectations, his expected batting average is a little lower than perhaps some will anticipate, but his expected bowling average for Division Two is very strong, and any bowler who can be expected to average sub-25 with the ball who can bat as well, is obviously an asset for any team.

From a T20 perspective, it's worth discussing Raine in a little more detail.  His expected batting data is excellent for an all-rounder, with strong strike rates against both pace and spin, and he looks to have performed better, historically, when coming in earlier during an innings than later, as a finisher.  Given his adeptness from a strike-rate perspective against pace and spin, using Raine as a finisher would look like being a waste of his talents.

Raine's T20 bowling data is fascinating.  His overs 1-6 economy is solid, but his overs 17-20 bowling economy hasn't been impressive at all in recent years, and nor has his middle-over economy either.  It would be recommended to bowl Raine as much in the PowerPlay, as possible.  

Richard Gleeson (Pace Bowler, Northants to Lancashire) - Age 30

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 13.67
Expected Division Two Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 26.76
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.84
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 102.04
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 30.67
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.40
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 7.16
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 7.79

Richard Gleeson has made the move back to his native North-West following a quality, but injury-affected time at Northants, and if he can avoid injuries and perform towards his peak level, will be a real asset for Lancashire.

Gleeson's Division Two expected bowling average is strong, and will boost Lancashire in their quest to return to Division One, but perhaps worth discussing more is his ability to contribute in T20.

Gleeson broke through in 2016 with a stunning season in T20 cricket, which immediately led to a BPL contract, but since then, has recorded bowling data which can be described as good, as opposed to top-drawer.  Gleeson still boasts good economy, though, in what is a very high-scoring league - his economy in the PowerPlay during that breakthrough season in 2016 was utterly magnificent.  He will provide Lancashire with a viable bowling option at any stage of their opponent's T20 innings.

Arron Lilley (Spin All-Rounder, Lancashire to Leicestershire) - Age 27

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 22.95
Expected Division Two Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 29.03
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 17.83
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 159.97
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 163.0
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 142.4
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 39.16
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 7.37
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 9.20
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: N/A

I feel Lilley's signing for Leicestershire is a real coup for the Midlands county, and there is certainly an argument for suggesting Lancashire have made a mistake in not retaining him, particularly given their relegation in the County Championship.

Lilley has performed well as an early innings pinch-hitter for Lancashire in T20, with an excellent strike rate against pace in particular.  While his spin strike rate has also been decent, it's worth noting that this was boosted by taking apart a few individual bowlers, as opposed to a consistently strong strike rate against spinners.

This is of interest, particularly as he evidently has also shown a high peak strike rate against spin bowling, and he should be a real boost to Leicestershire in the future in T20 cricket with the bat, either in this pinch-hitting role, or as a finisher.

With the ball, Lilley's T20 data has dropped off, but rather like a few of the bowlers mentioned previously, I'm not convinced he's been used in the best role by his former county.   Spinners tend to be used almost exclusively in the middle overs in T20, with the exception of a few overs in the PowerPlay as situations should dictate, but Lilley's economy in the first six overs isn't great - yet his middle over economy, at around 7.50, isn't bad at all.  Despite this, he has bowled less than 70% of his overs in the middle overs in the last three years, and if Leicestershire use him in the middle overs as much as possible, I do feel Lilley can be an all-round success for them in T20.

In red-ball cricket, my expectations of Lilley are also strong and he should be a decent asset for Leicestershire as they continue their improvement under Paul Nixon.

Chris Wright (Pace Bowler, Warwickshire to Leicestershire) - Age 33

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 19.44
Expected Division Two Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 29.27

Wright has moved across the Midlands following Warwickshire's promotion to Division Two, where he was a regular in their title-winning team in the past season.

According to media reports, he has signed a two-year contract, which is an approach I much prefer clubs to take with players as they move towards their mid-30s, and based on my data, he should be a reasonable signing for an upward-looking Division Two team in the four-day format.

A slight concern is that he hasn't averaged below 30 with the ball in the last two seasons, but both are in the low 30s (when opposition standard analysis is applied to his 2017 Division One data).  He can also be a competent lower-order batsman, and looks a decent short-term replacement for Zak Chappell in Division Two.

It's also worth noting that Wright tends to specialise in red-ball cricket - he has played just two Royal London Cup matches in the last two years, and hasn't played in the T20 Blast since a solitary appearance in 2016.  Given the financial constraints that counties face, they must consider whether a player can contribute across all formats, as opposed to a solitary one.

Will Davis (Pace Bowler, Derbyshire to Leicestershire) - Age 22

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 13.10
Expected Division Two Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 33.28
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 89.74
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 8.82

Will Davis is another bowler who has made the short journey to Leicestershire, who appear to be proactively looking to overhaul their current squad with a view to further improvement.

Rather like Chris Wright, above, Davis looks to provide most utility in red-ball cricket, with an expected Division bowling average in the low 30s, which is likely to be improved as he progresses towards peak age.  

Interestingly, Davis has seen limited opportunity at Derbyshire, and he does look to have the potential to be a solid Division Two bowler - perhaps this is a signing for the future.

However, Davis has plenty to prove in white-ball cricket at this stage of his career.  His 2015+ Second XI data in the Trophy isn't disastrous (17 wickets at around 29) but doesn't stand out either, while his T20 numbers in the Second XI need improvement, both from a wicket-taking and economy perspective - certainly there are a number of young pace bowlers of a similar age who look ahead of him in T20, currently.

It will be interesting if a change of county can help Davis kick on his career, and the level of opportunities he is given next season.

Ben Curran (MCC Young Cricketers to Northants) - Age 22

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 26.13
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 28.85
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 140.11

The lowest profile of the three Curran brothers, Ben still looks to have some decent potential, particularly in white-ball cricket.

In T20 Second XI cricket, Curran has averaged over 35 for the last two seasons, and in 2018, upped his strike rate to over 150, in addition to hitting over 20% of balls faced for boundaries.  These numbers translate very well to future T20 success.  

He's also averaged over 30 in the Second XI Trophy across the last two seasons, at a strike rate in the low 80s - a strike rate that I feel he should able to increase, given his obvious ability in this regard in T20.

While Curran's red-ball expected batting average currently isn't magnificent, it's also worth noting that he is open to a considerable level of future improvement and I expect him to be a solid County Championship batsman.

Blessing Muzarabani (Kolpak Pace Bowler from Zimbabwe to Northants) - Age 21

Rather like Fred Klaassen's move to Kent, it's difficult to establish the potential of Muzarabani, particularly given what looks like a lack of red-ball cricket.

However, the numbers that he has produced in that format is solid, and hasn't performed too badly in ODIs for Zimbabwe either.  It's tough to exactly assess associate player data given widely varying opponent quality, but his ODI data translates to an expected Royal London Cup bowling average in the low 30s, for example.   At just 21 years of age, further improvement - potentially dramatic - is extremely likely and this looks like a smart piece of business from Northants, perhaps with half an eye on the future as well.

Riki Wessels (WicketKeeper/Batsman, Nottinghamshire to Worcestershire) - Age 32

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 37.54
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 31.35
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 148.82
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 153.3
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 116.2

Wessels has moved to Worcestershire on what has been described as a three-year contract, following their relegation, and should be able to boost what is a batting line-up that struggled against the red ball throughout 2018.  None of Worcestershire's regular starters averaged over 40 in the County Championship (Daryl Mitchell, at 36.80, was the highest) and in a division below, Wessels can reinforce this - he's tended to bat at six for Nottinghamshire in recent years in red-ball cricket.  He turns 33 during the off-season, though, and I feel that a three-year contract is a risk given that he didn't average over 35 in any format this season.

However, Wessels can boast above-average data - particularly from a strike rate point of view - in both white-ball formats and is a quality boundary hitter.  He's almost exclusively batted in the top three in white-ball cricket (usually opening) and this makes sense given a strong bias towards pace bowling - asking him to come in as a middle-order batsman in the middle overs, when spinners frequently bowl, is not so recommended.  

With this in mind, he needed to find a club who can make usage of his white-ball talents with a need to improve their top three, and given that the departed Joe Clarke has been used as an opener in both white-ball competitions, it looks logical that Wessels will take his place at the top of the Worcestershire order.

Wayne Parnell (Pace Bowling All-Rounder, Kolpak to Worcestershire) - Age 29

Expected Division Two Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 42.92
Expected Division Two Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 21.68
Expected T20 Blast Batting Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 28.32
Expected T20 Blast Batting Strike Rate (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 125.4
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Pace, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: 144.0
Major T20 League Strike Rate vs Spin, 2016 onwards, Minimum 50 Balls: N/A
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Average (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 26.97
Expected T20 Blast Bowling Economy (Based on the Sports Analytics Advantage algorithm): 7.57
Major T20 League Overs 1-6 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 7.87
Major T20 League Overs 17-20 Economy, 2016 onwards, Minimum 60 Balls: 8.01

Parnell has been signed by Worcestershire as a Kolpak player, and this signing adds so much value.  Obtaining Parnell on a Kolpak deal enables Worcestershire to effectively play another overseas player, as he's easily of the standard of an overseas player (the average overseas player has a big statistical edge over the average domestic player in virtually every league in the world, and teams not playing as many overseas players as possible are losing current expected on-pitch value).

What perhaps is surprising is the batting expectations of Parnell, particularly in red-ball cricket.  His batting sample in red-ball cricket isn't the biggest, but it does look impressive (he averaged 39 from 7 completed innings in Division One this season, for example) and in conjunction with superb Division bowling expectations, he will be a real asset for a Worcestershire team looking to return to the top flight at the first time of asking.  It's impossible to say with any clarity whether any other teams were interested in taking Parnell on a Kolpak, but if they weren't, they should have been.

In T20, Parnell's all-round data is also strong.  Batting-wise, his expected strike rate against pace is decent, but from a small sample against spin, much less so.  Given this, he looks best placed to either pinch-hit (a role he has been used in previously), or more likely, be a finisher in the later overs.  If he could up this pace strike rate a little more, he could be very useful indeed as a finisher.

Bowling wise, he looks strong at any phase of the opposition innings, and provides Worcestershire with numerous options of how to get his four overs in.  Nothing in life is guaranteed, but I anticipate Parnell being an excellent signing.
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