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Our CSW database has the capacity to analyse data by age, so I decided to use it to investigate what age(s), if any, provided significantly better performances.
My sample was Sheffield Shield data since 1977, when the newest state, Tasmania, entered the competition. This provided reasonably homogenous data, with little of the cultural variation that might be obtained using Test match data. The sample thus analysed over nearly 950 matches, involving 800 players.
The results are in the table below:
What, if anything, can be deduced from the results? Well, clearly, both batting and bowling averages improve as one gets older, but the extent to which this happens after the age of 30 surprises me. The picture of the young, virile cricketer in his early-20s emerging triumphant over the aging has-been is not sustained by this data, and it would seem that experience outweighs youthful exuberance more times than it doesn't. For both batsmen and bowlers, the ages of 32 - 33 are the vintage years, and perhaps we are too keen to write players off as they move through their early-30s.
I would be most interested to read of the comments by others in relation to this data, and data from other spheres of cricket.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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