The Ashes 2009

How Hilfenhaus and Co have differed from England's fast men

The big difference between the fast bowlers from Australia and England has also been their success rates against right and left-hand batsmen

S Rajesh

August 18, 2009

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After a slow start to the series, the Australian fast bowlers are slowly getting to terms with the Duke ball and the conditions in England. England were clearly the better bowling unit at Lord's and in the first innings at Edgbaston, but Australia hit back strongly at Headingley, with Mitchell Johnson rediscovering his radar and Stuart Clark adding much-needed control and accuracy to the attack.

In the four Tests in the series so far, Australia's fast bowlers - Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Johnson and Clark - have averaged 28.11 per wicket for their 53 scalps (runs conceded is only runs off the bat, excluding extras), while England's fast men - James Anderson, Graham Onions, Stuart Broad, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison - have conceded more than 37 runs per wicket. The economy rates are similar, but the Australian attack has been far more incisive, striking every 48.83 balls, compared to 64.95 for England.

Aus fast bowlers v Eng fast bowlers
  Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Aus fast bowlers 1490 2588 53 28.11 3.45
Eng fast bowlers 1610 2793 43 37.44 3.46

The big difference between the two set of bowlers has also been their success rates against right and left-hand batsmen. Australia's quartet has generally been very successful against right-handers, taking their wickets 33 times at a cost of 24.42 and a strike rate of 43.79 balls per wicket. Left-handers have managed to score ten more runs, and last 13 more deliveries, per dismissal.

Andrew Strauss leads the way for the left-handers - and for the entire team - with an aggregate of 344 and an average of 49.14. Alastair Cook hasn't been as successful, but Stuart Broad has chipped in handily, averaging 28, and even James Anderson has contributed useful runs.

The right-handers stock has been considerably lowered by the limp performances of Ravi Bopara (average of 15 in seven innings) and Ian Bell (21.33 in three).

Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Siddle and Clark against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 806 1445 33 24.42 3.34
Left-handers 684 1143 20 34.20 3.59

England's fast bowlers, on the other hand, have been far more comfortable against the likes of Phillip Hughes and Michael Hussey. Marcus North has bucked that trend, but overall left-handers have only averaged 31 against England's five fast bowlers, compared to 43 by the right-handers.

It's helped that among the five Australians averaging more than 50 in the series, four are right-handers: Clarke leads the way with a series average of 89 (and an average of 75.75 against these five bowlers), while Haddin averages 60.75 (43.33 against these five), Shane Watson 55.33 (48.33) and Ponting 51.83 (63.50).

North has done pretty well against these bowlers, averaging 45, but Hussey (23.60), Johnson (23.33) and Hughes (18.66) have struggled.

Anderson, Onions, Broad, Flintoff and Harmison against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 989 1573 23 43.00 3.77
Left-handers 621 1220 20 31.05 3.05

The three dismissals of Bell have gone a long way in improving Johnson's stats against right-handers. Against the lefties, his average and economy rate are much higher.

Johnson against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 264 461 10 26.40 3.43
Left-handers 244 327 6 40.66 4.47

Bell was dismissed by Johnson three times in 49 deliveries, at an average of less than eight runs per wicket. Strauss, on the other hand, scored 91 runs from 134 balls off Johnson and was dismissed just once.

England batsmen versus Johnson
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Andrew Strauss 91 134 1 91.00 4.07
Alastair Cook 67 95 3 22.33 4.23
Matt Prior 59 65 1 59.00 5.44
Andrew Flintoff 47 57 1 47.00 4.94
Paul Collingwood 32 114 1 32.00 1.68
Ian Bell 23 49 3 7.66 2.81

Similarly, Hilfenhaus, with his stock delivery swinging away from the right-handers, has had plenty of success against them, taking 11 wickets at less than 20 apiece. His stats against lefties aren't bad either, but they fade when compared to his numbers against the right-handers.

Hilfenhaus against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 218 468 11 19.82 2.79
Left-handers 225 450 7 32.14 3.00

Cook hasn't done so well against Johnson, but he has only fallen once to Hilfenhaus in 138 deliveries, averaging 72 against him. There might be a case for England's think-tank to have Cook play Hilfenhaus more than the others.

The Australians will be generally disappointed that Bopara has been dropped, but none more so than Hilfenhaus, who had made Bopara his bunny. In 56 balls, Hilfenhaus dismissed him five times at a cost of 16 runs. Bell has struggled to get him away for runs, but he has survived 41 balls without being dismissed.

England batsmen versus Hilfenhaus
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Andrew Strauss 98 215 3 32.66 2.73
Alastair Cook 72 138 1 72.00 3.13
Kevin Pietersen 48 126 1 48.00 2.28
Paul Collingwood 40 61 2 20.00 3.93
Andrew Flintoff 31 62 1 31.00 3.00
Matt Prior 28 54 1 28.00 3.11
Ravi Bopara 16 56 5 3.20 1.71
Ian Bell 11 41 0 - 1.60

The story is similar for Siddle - excellent against right-handers, not so good against left-handers.

Siddle against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 272 451 11 24.72 3.61
Left-handers 176 304 5 35.20 3.47

For England's bowlers, the stats are reversed. Anderson is the only bowler to make an impression on North - he has dismissed him twice in 164 balls for 33 runs, an average of 16.50 and an economy rate of 1.20 runs per over. Against the right-handers, though, Anderson has been very ordinary, averaging 45 against Clarke and 78 against Ponting.

Anderson against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 310 438 6 51.66 4.24
Left-handers 154 385 6 25.66 2.40

Flintoff has struggled similarly against right-handers - he hasn't dismissed Clarke or Ponting even once in 201 deliveries, conceding 120 runs. Hughes, on the other hand, fell to him twice in 33 balls, at an average of 3.50.

Flintoff against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 187 342 3 62.33 3.28
Left-handers 133 300 4 33.25 2.66

The difference isn't as stark for Broad - six wickets at 38.83 against the right-handers, and as many wickets at 33 against the left. Onions is the one bowler who has a better record against the right-handers, who've comprised 70% of his victims in this series.

Onions against right and left-handers
Batsman type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Right-handers 191 284 7 27.28 4.03
Left-handers 107 184 3 35.66 3.48

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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