Exploring Tactical Agility in #BBL06


ESPNCricinfo published an interview with Paddy Upton in March 2016.
Paddy discusses decision-making in cricket and harnessing “the collective intelligence that sits within the group”.
He observes:

In T20 there are far more mistakes and far more errors that happen primarily because people need to take far greater risks than they had taken before. So we need to relate fundamentally differently to players and teams making mistakes.

He adds:

We don’t really give people that much experience and opportunity around making decisions because when they make the first mistake, we withdraw that privilege from them.


I know that in real high-pressure moments in a game, seldom is it the player’s skill that is going to be the thing that is going to prevail. It is normally the quality of the decision they make under pressure.


I have been following the #BBL06 season in Australia and reflecting on whether we can identify tipping moments in games when the quality of decision-making under pressure is observable … either in batting or bowling performances.
I use secondary data provided by ESPNCricinfo.
To date my Median run profile for winners and losers after 23 games is:

These data exclude runs scored in the rain (and Duckworth -Lewis) affected game 12 between  the Renegades and the Stars.

Heat v Strikers

Game 23 of the tournament, Heat v Scorchers, was played in Brisbane. The Heat, the home team, won the toss and chose to field. Eight of the previous ten #BBL06 games had been won by the team batting second.
My data from the game are:
Runs Per Over

Scorchers” Performance Compared to Winners’ Median

Heat’s Performance Compared To Losers’ Median


The co-active relationship between players and teams in cricket makes for fascinating observations. The data from one game exemplify this relationship.
Without over-reading a single game example, I do compare a team’s progress in #BBL06 against two benchmark moments: runs scored at the end of over 4; runs scored at end of over 13. These two points are personal choices. I understand there will be various milestone markers that people use.
At over 4, winners have a median run score of 32 and losers 31. By the end of over 13, winners have accumulated a median score of 100 and losers of 89.
At present, the median winning score in #BBL06 is 168 and losing score 147.
In the Heat v Scorchers game:
Scorchers batted first: 28 runs after 4, 100 after 13 with a final score of 156.
Heat: 26 runs after 4, 87 after 13, all out for 129.
The Scorchers scored 14 runs in over 9 to build their score (Ben Cutting bowled the over). Brisbane’s bowling responded and in overs 14 to 18 took the Scorchers below the median winning profile. 14 runs in the 19th over (bowled by Mark Steketee) lifted the Scorchers to a total 12 runs below the median winning total.
In their reply, the Heat conceded a wicket maiden in over 3 (bowled by Mitchell Johnson). They stabilised their innings and were tracking the median losers’ profile through to over 10. Then over 11 produced 13 runs (bowled by Andrew Tye) and they own the game at this moment.
The Scorchers’ bowling dampens the Heat’s momentum thereafter and the Heat’s profile falls below the median for losers for 7 of the remaining nine overs. The game ends with an Andrew Tye hat trick.

Leading and Following

Both teams in this game are coached by very experienced coaches (Daniel Vettori and Justin Langer) and led by very experienced captains (Brendan McCullum and Michael Klinger).
In his interview, Paddy said of his coaching:

We are starting in the cricket world to understand that coaching is not telling people what to do. It is actually having a two-way dialogue and discovering what is going to work best for the other person and work best for the environment and creatively coming up with the way that works best for everyone. With an approach like that, you end up with a very good chance of getting the best out of everyone.

The availability of live audio from Brendan and Michael on-field during each innings gives a privileged insight into some of the ways in which leading and following, coaching and captaincy are entangled.
There is very little time in T20 cricket to act upon actionable insights. I am hopeful that my exploration of performance profiles will contribute to conversations about creating ‘authentic’ training environments and the tactical responses (premeditated and agile variants) required to tip games.
Just 9 games left in the regular season to monitor performance.

Photo Credit

IMG_4168 (Sheila Dee, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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