So we’re about to start our 11th season in the Surrey Championship, and our first in Division 2 after three successive promotions.
Whilst our progress through the divisions has relied on a combination of batting, bowling, fielding and keeping excellences, not to mention tremendous team spirit and the support network behind the scenes; an article on CricInfo appeared in the off-season penned by Anantha Narayanan who chose to look at the role played by the bowlers in the success of any team. It would be remiss of us not to look at how our bowlers have done in comparison!
Narayanan tested a number of factors; but the one that is most comparable for us is the balance between economy and strike rate.
In the Surrey Championship we play a ‘split format’ of nine limited overs matches and nine timed/declaration/100 over matches.
The 50:50 matches potentially place more of an emphasis on economy rate than strike rate; in the timed/declaration/100 over matches it is arguable that the reverse applies with the need to force a result or dismiss a side as quickly as possible to enable the batting line up to get more overs back; but both factors come into play at various points in each format.
Narayanan’s conclusion was that, statistically, Rashid Khan, Joel Garner and Mitchell Starc were the three best ODI bowlers in history when looking at his various tests. (Minimum 100 ODI wickets.) Not a bad trio.
So using the same ‘economy & strike rate’ methodology, we took a look at our first decade in the Surrey Championship to see how our bowlers compared, and here they all are on a graph. The horizontal axis is strike rate, the vertical economy rate.
To recognise the contribution of all the bowlers used over the last decade – and to get more interested parties looking at this! – a bowler has only had to take a minimum of nine wickets to make it.
The diagonal line is referred to by Narayanan as the ‘Line of Excellence’ – any players to the right of the line have a better combination of economy and strike rate; the further away you go, the better you are statistically.
Good news for Captain Trower is that all the bowlers expected to feature for him this year appear above the line. Dare we suggest that our best ever five man attack would be Douthwaite, Miller, Dyson, Spreeth and Zander? Not a bad combination – but of course only one of Miller and Dyson would be eligible to play at any one time; so who would you choose in place of one of those two, or indeed who would be your best ever Stoke bowlers in the Surrey Championship?
Let the debate – and the banter – begin!
For the record, here are the bowlers’ stats from 2009 to 2018 inclusive : 1st XI Runs Per Over Strike Rate and Average 2009 to 2018
(We’ll run Narayanan’s ‘economy & strike rate’ methodology against Stoke’s all-time leading wicket-takers and publish a separate article, but for now we’ll let you – and opposing batsmen agonising the prospect of facing any of our excellent bowlers – digest this one first!)