County Championship 2012

Batting second favoured Bears

With the summer so wet, sides favoured batting second and it worked for Warwickshire as all of their wins came after bowling first

David Hopps and Neville Scott

November 7, 2012

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Jim Troughton kisses the trophy after Warwickshire's Championship win, Worcestershire v Warwickshire, County Championship, Division One, New Road, 3rd day, September 6, 2012
The wet summer made it commonplace for captains, like Jim Troughton, to win the toss and choose to bowl first © Getty Images
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Warwickshire's domination in winning the LV= County Championship title is emphasised by a statistical study carried out on behalf of ESPNcricinfo.

Not only did they outplay their rivals over the season to an extraordinary degree, they took the First Division pennant without once following the adage of batting first after winning the toss. Warwickshire, who won the championship with a game to spare, averaged 105 runs per innings more than their opponents - 65 runs better than their nearest challengers, Somerset.

Influenced by one of county cricket's wettest-ever summers, all their six wins came when they batted second, in defiance of common practice. Such was the rain effect that only four wins all season went to First Division sides who chose to bat after winning the toss.

If you wanted to watch wickets tumble, it was best to stick with Durham's attack in 2012. Over the course of the season, they took wickets every 40 deliveries, led by the England fast bowler Graham Onions. Watching Lancashire's attack was Division One's most restful occupation; they struck only every 63 deliveries and were relegated as a consequence.

Derbyshire, surprise winners of the Second Division title, did not dominate their rivals as much as Yorkshire, who were promoted in second place, and Kent, who narrowly missed out. Derbyshire's margin between totals scored and conceded was a relatively modest 31 runs - dwarfed by the records achieved by Yorkshire and Kent.

The most outclassed side, in either division, was Leicestershire. Only Leicestershire, and Worcestershire in Division One, scored their runs at less than three an over and the difference between the scores that Leicestershire made and conceded was a whopping 103 runs per innings.

For all that, they achieved three wins along the way and as a consequence still managed to finish third bottom, ahead of Northants and Gloucestershire, both of whom were considerably more competitive over the season.

The data has been collated by the cricket freelance and analyst of the county scene, Neville Scott.

Patterns of victory and defeat in 2012
    Wins Defeats
County Played 1T 2T W1 W2 1T 2T L1 L2
Division One                  
Warwickshire 16 0 2 0 4 0 0 1 0
Somerset 16 0 3 0 2 1 0 0 0
Middlesex 16 0 1 3 1 0 1 2 1
Sussex 16 0 5 0 0 2 1 2 0
Nottinghamshire 16 1 0 2 1 0 1 0 1
Durham 15* 0 2 2 1 1 1 3 0
Surrey 15* 2 0 1 0 2 1 1 0
Lancashire 16 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 2
Worcestershire 16 1 0 0 0 3 2 3 0
  71 4 14 8 9 9 8 14 4
Division Two                  
Derbyshire 16 1 2 1 2 1 0 0 1
Yorkshire 16 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0
Kent 16 1 0 1 2 1 1 1 0
Hampshire 16 1 1 1 1 0 4 1 0
Essex 16 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 2
Glamorgan 15* 1 1 1 0 2 2 1 1
Leicestershire 16 0 0 2 1 1 2 0 0
Northamptonshire 16 1 0 1 0 1 2 2 0
Gloucestershire 15* 0 0 2 1 2 1 1 2
  71 6 6 12 9 9 12 6 6

*The scheduled 16th match for these four teams was abandoned without a ball bowled
1T Batting first on winning toss
2T Batting second on winning toss
W1/L1 Winning/losing after being put in to bat
W2/L2 Winning/losing batting second after losing toss

In a season badly impacted by the weather it was tough for batsmen and, unsurprisingly, teams often struggled to put large scores on the board. The table below shows averages totals for and against by all the teams; Warwickshire's positive difference in Division One was very large. A surprising figure, considering they claimed the wooden spoon, is Gloucestershire's balls/wicket ratio.

Average scores for and against
  FOR   AGAINST      
County Runs/Inns Runs/Overs Runs/Inns Runs/Overs Balls/Wkt +/-
Division One            
1 Warwickshire 367 3.29 262 3.26 48.24 +105
2 Somerset 315 3.45 275 3.22 51.30 +40
3 Middlesex 300 3.28 265 3.15 50.40 +35
4 Sussex 282 3.14 284 3.22 53.04 -2
5 Nottinghamshire 306 3.31 301 3.09 58.32 +5
6 Durham 228 3.27 215 3.21 40.26 +13
7 Surrey 279 3.27 296 3.17 56.04 -17
8 Lancashire 256 3.08 337 3.19 63.24 -81
9 Worcestershire 212 2.87 309 3.50 53.04 -97
Division Two            
1 Derbyshire 303 3.27 272 3.10 52.68 +31
2 Yorkshire 368 3.42 294 3.04 57.90 +74
3 Kent 338 3.23 258 2.81 55.08 +80
4 Hampshire 294 3.35 312 3.23 57.96 -18
5 Essex 309 3.17 302 3.24 56.04 +7
6 Glamorgan 274 3.34 303 3.14 57.84 -29
7 Leicestershire 271 2.94 374 3.56 63.00 -103
8 Northamptonshire 332 3.04 353 3.22 65.82 -21
9 Gloucestershire 271 3.01 282 3.39 49.98 -11
'Joke' bowling is excluded. A purely notional average Division One game saw 280 runs per innings at 3.22 per over with a wicket every 52.15 balls. It ends in a tie at a delayed tea on the last day. For Division two, it's 304 runs per innings at 3.19 per over with a wicket every 57.15 balls. Here the tie arrives with just four balls of the match unbowled. In reality, in 2012, rain would probably have ruined the contest. Only 48.61% of Division One games and 45.83% of Division Two games produced wins.

Tomorrow: In the concluding part of Scott's study of the 2012 season, we reveal county cricket's most unsettled sides and whether they suffered as a result.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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