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June 11, 2010

Bowling

Analysing wides and no-balls in Twenty20 internationals

Anantha Narayanan

... © Getty Images
Wides and no-balls are the bane of the bowlers in Twenty20 matches. Not to forget the additional (unrecorded) runs scored off possible free hits. This article analyses the wides and no-balls bowled by bowlers in Twenty20 internationals. I have specifically considered only Twenty20 internationals and excluded IPL matches, which I do not consider as true internationals.

The basic criteria is that the bowlers should have bowled a minimum of 120 balls, which works to no less than 5 Twenty20 International matches.

1. Bowlers who have conceded the most number of wides and no-balls

No Bowler             Ctry Mat  Overs Wides NBs Total
W+Nb

1 Malinga S.L Slk 28 94.0 35 2 37 2 Umar Gul Pak 26 93.2 25 11 36 3 Johnson M.G Aus 21 77.1 32 4 36 4 Sohail Tanvir Pak 15 51.0 26 10 36 5 Steyn D.W Saf 21 78.0 29 2 31 6 Tait S.W Aus 15 55.4 30 1 31 7 Anderson J.M Eng 18 66.2 29 0 29 8 Lee B Aus 16 58.1 13 14 27 9 Roach K.A.J Win 10 35.0 20 5 25 10 Broad S.C.J Eng 26 89.5 17 5 22

Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka has bowled the maximum number of wides and no-balls. with 37. Umar Gul, Johnson and Sohail Tanvir come in next with 36 wides and no-balls. In fifth place in this list is Steyn with 31.

It is not a surprise that all the bowlers in the table are the quicker bowlers. They are all attacking wicket-taking bowlers. The spinner who has conceded the most wides and no-balls is Shoaib Malik with 21.

Now a look at the best performing bowlers in this classification.

2. Bowlers who have conceded the least number of wides and no-balls

No Bowler             Ctry Mat  Overs Wides NBs Total
W+Nb
1 Mudassar Bukhari    Hol   7   25.4    0   0     0
2 Haq R.M             Sco   7   25.0    0   0     0
3 Seelaar P.M         Hol   9   35.0    1   0     1
4 Borren P.W          Hol   9   35.0    1   0     1
5 Dhaniram S          Can  11   33.4    1   0     1
6 Patel J.S           Nzl  11   33.1    0   1     1
7 Vaas WPUJC          Slk   6   22.0    0   1     1
8 McCallan W.K        Ire   8   21.5    1   0     1
9 Collingwood P.D     Eng  30   32.0    2   0     2
Quite a few bowlers from the unfancied teams have conceded one noball or wide. Vaas and Jeetan Patel have also bowled a single wide.

Now for some qualitative assessments. First a table based on the number of wides and no-balls conceded per match.

3. Bowlers who have conceded most numbers of wides & no-balls per match

No Bowler             Ctry Mat  Overs  Total WNb/M
W+Nb

1 Roach K.A.J Win 10 35.0 25 2.50 2 Sohail Tanvir Pak 15 51.0 36 2.40 3 Rampaul R Win 8 30.0 17 2.12 4 Tait S.W Aus 15 55.4 31 2.07 5 Shoaib Akhtar Pak 7 23.0 14 2.00 6 Johnson M.G Aus 21 77.1 36 1.71 7 Lee B Aus 16 58.1 27 1.69 8 Langeveldt C.K Saf 9 35.0 15 1.67 9 Sreesanth S Ind 9 34.0 15 1.67 10 Anderson J.M Eng 18 66.2 29 1.61

Kemar roach, who bowls quite wildly often averages 2.5 wides and no-balls per match. That is something. If you add the runs scored off the free hits, if any, he is quite a liability.

Sohail Tanvir also clocks in at 2.4 wides and no-balls per match. However he is a great match-winner, at least in IPL matches. Rampaul follows next.

Ray Price is the leading (maybe the wrong term) spinner. He has conceded 1.43 wides and no-balls per match.

4. Bowlers who have conceded least numbers of wides & no-balls per match

No Bowler             Ctry Mat  Overs  Total WNb/M
W+Nb

1 Mudassar Bukhari Hol 7 25.4 0 0.00 2 Haq R.M Sco 7 25.0 0 0.00 3 Collingwood P.D Eng 30 32.0 2 0.07 4 Patel J.S Nzl 11 33.1 1 0.09 5 Dhaniram S Can 11 33.4 1 0.09 6 Dilshan T.M Slk 31 20.0 3 0.10 7 Yuvraj Singh Ind 21 20.0 2 0.10 8 Styris S.B Nzl 28 46.3 3 0.11 9 Seelaar P.M Hol 9 35.0 1 0.11

Patel, Yuvraj Singh and Styris have quite low wides and noballs per match.

Now for the frequency of no-balls and wides.

5. Bowlers who have been most frequent with no-balls and wides

No Bowler             Ctry Mat  Overs  Total Balls/WNb
W+Nb

1 Roach K.A.J Win 10 35.0 25 8.4 2 Sohail Tanvir Pak 15 51.0 36 8.5 3 Shoaib Akhtar Pak 7 23.0 14 9.9 4 Rampaul R Win 8 30.0 17 10.6 5 Tait S.W Aus 15 55.4 31 10.8 6 Edwards F.H Win 12 36.3 18 12.2 7 Shoaib Malik Pak 30 43.0 21 12.3 8 Johnson M.G Aus 21 77.1 36 12.9 9 Lee B Aus 16 58.1 27 12.9 10 Bresnan T.T Eng 12 37.0 17 13.1

The usual fast bowling culprits lead this list. One wide or no-ball every 10 balls or so.

Ray Price leads the spinners with a wide or no-ball every 16.8 balls, quite frequent for a spinner.

6. Bowlers who have been least frequent with no-balls and wides

No Bowler             Ctry Mat  Overs  Total Balls/WNb
W+Nb

1 Seelaar P.M Hol 9 35.0 1 210.0 2 Borren P.W Hol 9 35.0 1 210.0 3 Dhaniram S Can 11 33.4 1 202.0 4 Patel J.S Nzl 11 33.1 1 199.0 5 Vaas WPUJC Slk 6 22.0 1 132.0 6 McCallan W.K Ire 8 21.5 1 131.0 7 Mascarenhas A.D Eng 14 42.0 2 126.0 8 Abdul Razzaq Pak 17 39.3 2 118.5 9 O'Brien K.J Ire 16 35.3 2 106.5 10 Collingwood P.D Eng 30 32.0 2 96.0

Three of the bowlers from the lesser teams have bowled a no-ball or wide once in 200 balls or so. That shows a level of accuracy not necessarily present in the more fancied bowlers.

Conclusion:

This started as a simple article. However the results are extremely fascinating. So much so the conclusions are quite speculative and I invite the enlightened readers to come in with their comments.

The tables 1,3,5 are the "negative" tables in this analysis in that these show the bowlers who have bowled more wides/no-balls, more wides/no-balls per match and more frequent wide/no-balls. However these tables are dominated by the genuinely good fast bowlers from top teams who have won more matches for their teams than the other bowlers.

The tables 2,4,6 are the "positive" tables in this analysis in that these show the bowlers who have bowled less wides/no-balls, less wides/no-balls per match and less frequent wide/no-balls. However these tables are dominated by the bowlers from lesser teams and some ordinary spinners. These are not necessarily match-winners. The top spinners, Muralitharan, Mendis, Harbhajan, Vettori, Botha, Swann et al are conspicous by their absence.

What does one conclude.

- That the top fast bowlers go for broke at the cost of control.
- That the top spinners do similarly but exercise more control.
- That the lesser bowlers, especially from the weaker teams, handicapped by their own lack of skills and team strength, show greater discipline and exercise lower levels of variety.
- That the wides/no-balls, especially the wides, because of the unknown free-hit component of the no-balls, are not that negative a trait that a bowler can have.

Note: For some perceptive comments on the conclusion, I must thank Sriram (Ananthanarayanan) who has brought in welcome independent editing skills.

The bottom line is that the really attacking bowlers, especially the fast bowlers, necessarily go for pace and variation and this might lead to more wides and no-balls. Maybe such a measure should be looked into in conjunction with strike rates of bowlers. My gut feel is that it is not possible to derive any conclusion from looking only at wides and no-balls.

To view/down-load the complete table, please click/right-click here.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Posted by Anders Denkend on (June 13, 2010, 20:52 GMT)

Um... Stuart Clark bowled no-balls in these T20Is: http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/287861.html & http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/287874.html, and conceded at least one wide in these: http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/287866.html & http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/287878.html & http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/297800.html.

I make that a total of 7 wides + NBs. [[ Anders You are absolutely correct. Unfortunately the wides and noballs are not captured at the initial point of scorecard parsing and I do special runs later because of inconsistency in some of the earlier scorecards. Unfortunately "Clark" is a complete subset of "Clarke" and the noballs and wides were attributed to the younger part-time bowler. My mistake and my apologies too. The article and the attachment have since been corrected. Many thanks for pointing out the error. Ananth: ]]

Posted by James on (June 12, 2010, 20:45 GMT)

I agree Ananth, Clark is easy to attack and for a long time he had nothing to counter with since his slower ball options were poor or non-existent. As for Bracken, well he's an interesting case. He played with a sore knee in his last year of ODI cricket and didn't do so well. Since his layoff he's only had 4 ODDs for NSW. Perhaps the selectors see him as over the hill, or perhaps they think he bowled badly despite his knee problems ie. he was dropped, or perhaps they are waiting for him to get some more domestic games under his belt before his reselection. It's hard to tell :) Australia does have a few young prospects that may be overtaking him, like young Hazlewood who is expected to be excellent. And the replacements who've come into the side like Bollinger, Harris and even McKay have been excellent too. Not to mention Brett Lee to come back who's always been higher up the tree. I personally think Bracken would be great over in India though, as almost a 2nd spinner in middle overs.

Posted by Asif Rathod on (June 12, 2010, 5:39 GMT)

All, bowlers on the list of wide and no-balls are leading wicket takers and most effective bowlers in this T-20 versions. They have conceded more no of wide and no-balls because of their variation, pace,attacking & wicket taking abilities. All bowlers in that top-list are best in the business in shorter format.

Posted by DIXIT CHAWLA on (June 12, 2010, 5:19 GMT)

We can conclude that in shorten version of cricket most accurate bowlers in line and length is not definition of good or wicket taker bowlers.Is in it?

Posted by James on (June 11, 2010, 22:37 GMT)

Ananth, this is a good compilation of stats. I'm more here to discuss your commments :) I don't Santhana meant that stepping an inch over the line is really 'criminal' compared to your correct example of beamers. But for backyard arm rollers like me, front ball no balls seem so EASY to correct - yet we are subjected to so many of them. Even Nathan Hauritz bowls no balls! That to me is baffling. And as to your aside about how Stuart Clark is not playing for Australia it comes down to a few issues: a) age, b) fitness, c) competition from young quicks, d) in ODIs he tends to be very hittable since he bowls only one length and is not quick enough to make batsmen stay in their crease, e) in Tests he tends to be fairly toothless on flat decks eg. was still good at Headingly though not so much at the Oval, or in India in 2008, f) most of his success came early in his career when the opposition were blinded by McGrath, Warne and Lee. Lee had outbowled him in every series since. [[ James Probably Clark was dropped before too much damage could be done to his figures. Maybe he was also not as guileful as someone like Langeveldt. By the by what happened to Bracken. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Santhana Krishnan on (June 11, 2010, 18:09 GMT)

Maybe I should not have used the word "crime". P.S:I agree with you that Sreeshanth did bowled that beamer intentionally. [[ SanthanaK I hope you were not upset. I feel it is already too much a bowlers' game and every new law penalizes the bowler more. That is why I suggested the 2 runs for noball and "let's get on with the next ball" idea. However beamers are something else. The hypocrisy which surrounds the fake apology upsets me a lot. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Basal Ahmed on (June 11, 2010, 14:34 GMT)

The results show that it is clearly much harder to not bowl wildly for quicker ballers. Just wondering, can the spinning tables be divided into leg spinners and offies to show whether leg spinners have a hard time controlling the ball

Posted by Ravinder Singh on (June 11, 2010, 13:07 GMT)

I have another way of looking at this. I am have some personal experiance to back this up:

Fast bowlers are always trying to bowl as fast as possible. Fast bowling is all about rythem. There are days where a fast bowler can run up with his eyes closed and know excately where the ball will land, BUT there are also days where he tries his best to just bowl the ball and it keeps getting away from him.

So the fast bowlers you have mentioned must have bowled less no-balls and wides in matches where they got a 4-for or a 5 for. And in matches where they went for runs and didn't manage to pick up wickets are the matches where they are relevtily more indisiplined.

The end result is that their figures are better then the steady bowlers in the team.

Posted by Shahid Mahmood on (June 11, 2010, 12:19 GMT)

would love to see overall performances and wide/noball of a prticular bowler weighted in some way. To some measure its obvious that the bowler with the most wnb are also the best ones [[ Shahid As I have mentioned at the end of the article maybe a composite table with all bowling parameters is warranted. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Santhana Krishnan on (June 11, 2010, 11:37 GMT)

I feel that the act of bowling the no-ball is the criminal part. Whether you follow it up with a toe-crusher like Malinga or bowl a juicy full toss that goes for six, does not make it a lesser or worse crime.Also, I guess that the ratio of waist-high full tosses to overstepping no-balls would be very small. [[ Do not over-react to a bowler planting his boot an inch beyond the crease. It is not that "criminal" an offence. And certainly the act is not a crime. I personally feel that bowling a beamer is nearly a crime since, apologies notwithstanding, half such beamers are deliberate attempts to hit the batsman. Nothing on earth can convince me that Sreesanth did not bowl his beamer at Pietersen deliberately. And that act does not warrant a free-hit. Ananth: ]]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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