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Former England, Kent and Middlesex batsman; writer for the New Statesman

The Bresnan effect

What makes some players talismans, in whose presence their teams play better than they would otherwise?

Ed Smith

June 6, 2012

Comments: 55 | Text size: A | A

Tim Bresnan took late wickets with reverse swing, England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day, May 27, 2012
Bresnan: ingredient X © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Tim Bresnan
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of England
Teams: England

Are some players lucky charms? Or do we use luck as lazy short-hand slang to avoid the effort of identifying the set of skills that really sets them apart?

Tim Bresnan, England's bowling allrounder, now has a remarkable record in Test matches: played 13, won 13. So Bresnan will begin his 14th Test match this week yet to feel the pain of defeat in a white England jersey. Is that luck or skill?

Bresnan's role in those 13 consecutive victories has been mostly unflashy. Indeed, for many of those 13 selections, his place in the XI has been the most in jeopardy: the other ten players were picked first, with Bresnan battling it out for the final place. So far, the selectors have been proved right every time.

The unheralded rise of this understated Yorkshireman reminds me of "The No-Stats All-Star", a brilliant New York Times article by the American writer Michael Lewis. Fans of Lewis' iconic book Moneyball should read it immediately. Lewis' starting point is trying to understand how some players have an effect on a team that is not captured in their own statistical performance.

Lewis' subject is Shane Battier, a defensive player for the Houston Rockets. Battier seems to have the ability to make a team win, and yet no one knows quite how he does it. Battier's job is to guard the most talented opponents, shutting down attacking geniuses such as Kobe Bryant. So you would expect Battier to have poor numbers as a shooter and dribbler. Much more interestingly, he doesn't even have outstanding stats using the standard defensive metric of rebounds. Nor is Battier universally highly rated by his peers.

Lewis describes the situation as a basketball mystery. "A player is widely regarded inside the NBA as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win." How quickly we fall back on irrational terminology: the "magic Battier" or the "lucky charm Bresnan". In fact, Lewis goes on to deconstruct the magic in the most logical terms:

"Battier's game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his team-mates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse - often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his team-mates' rebounding. He doesn't shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to team-mates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers."

One of the coaches at the Rockets calls Battier "lego" because "when he's on the court, all the pieces start to fit together". It is a standard misconception that team selection is about picking the best all-round players and only the best players. In fact, the art of selection is picking the right team, which is an organic entity with its own unique personality. The Houston Rockets are committed to analysing how the five players on any basketball team are far more than the sum of their parts. As Lewis puts it: "The Rockets devote a lot of energy to untangling subtle interactions among the team's elements."

The Rockets' coaches use a statistic called the "plus-minus", which measures what happens to the score when any given player is on the court. There are risks with over-reliance on the plus-minus, of course. In football, the very best players are often rested for easy games - so they miss on easy "pluses". And the plus-minus flatters players who are dragged up by brilliance that surrounds them. A basketball player who finds himself on the same team with the world's four best players, and who plays only when they do, will benefit from an artificially inflated plus-minus.

Analysts need to watch out for these potential pitfalls. But the brilliance of the plus-minus, unlike other statistical measures, is that it asks absolutely the right question - how much does a player really help the team? In basketball, a good player might be a plus three -- that is, his team averages three points more per game than its opponent when he is on the floor. Shane Battier is plus six.

 
 
It is a standard misconception that team selection is about picking the best all-round players and only the best players. In fact, the art of selection is picking the right team, which is an organic entity with its own unique personality
 

There are Battiers in every sport. Arsenal fans will tell you how what a huge difference Mikel Arteta made to their efficiency and effectiveness last season. Arteta does not possess explosive pace or power. Nor does he quite have the ability to play the thrilling eye-catching pass that made his predecessor Cesc Fabregas so exciting to watch. But when Arteta is on the pitch, Arsenal possess shape, structure and - above all - common sense and leadership. Arteta brings class and poise to a team that has often lacked maturity. In the same vein, Chelsea fans can talk into the early hours about how Claude Makelele - the defensive midfielder who masterminded their glory days in the mid-2000s - is the most underrated player in Premiership history.

There are also inverse-Battiers: players who rack up good personal stats while actually damaging the team's win-loss percentage. Every cricketer has personal experience of selfish batsmen in one-day cricket who tend to score their runs when it is easy, and take up more balls than they should while they're doing so. The saddest thing about selfish players is how often weak coaches let them get away with it to the detriment of the team.

In some respects, Bresnan (for the time being, anyway) is not the ideal cricketing example of the Battier phenomenon - because after a stellar personal best at Trent Bridge last month, Bresnan is currently sitting on a very tidy set of personal statistics.

But for much of his career to date, Bresnan's contribution to the team has not been so easy to observe in the old-fashioned statistical measures. Fortunately, England employ the perfect man to explore how the value of some players is observed best in the win-loss column. Nathan Leamon, a former maths teacher and another unsung hero of the England set-up, spends his time developing new statistical tools to explain how cricket matches are won.

I doubt Bresnan is especially interested in obscure statistical analysis. But if his career continues on its current trajectory, he might end up as the accidental standard bearer for a more enlightened approach to selecting teams. How appropriate it would be if a new number - the plus-minus column - was added to every player's personal statistics. Perhaps the cricketing incarnation of the plus-minus metric should be given a special nickname: "the Bresnan".

Former England, Kent and Middlesex batsman Ed Smith's new book, Luck - What It Means and Why It Matters, is out now. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by jacknathan on (June 9, 2012, 22:09 GMT)

Brenan's stats actually are quite revealing. It goes to show how the "horses for courses" selection always will appear to have a better victory record. Bresnan has not often been considered as the frontline bowler. He has the luxury of being the third or fourth pace bowler to supplement a deadly English bowling unit. History will tell you that Rajesh Chauhan of India (the third spinner when India dominated at home dust bowls in the 90s) has never lost a game in his 20-odd matches. You will also find that Eldine Baptiste, the second change West Indian pace bowler of the 80s had a 100% victory record. This trend may well have been seen on Austrlia's first/second change bowler Andy Bichel's stats if it werent for some record-book-writing performances by Rahul Dravid & Agarkar(Adelaide 2003), Brian Lara & Courtney Walsh (Perth 97), Sarwan/Chanderpaul(St.Johns 2003) ! Admittedly Bresnan's stats are impressive, but it points to an interesting trend in team selections of successful teams.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 8, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

@mcheckley on (June 06 2012, 10:13 AM GMT) Botham was a bowling all rounder for sure

Posted by JG2704 on (June 8, 2012, 20:33 GMT)

@ Sam Crewe on (June 06 2012, 05:43 AM GMT) Bresnan missed the series in UAE through injury , nothing to do with the pitch conditions. Eng took a gamble in dropping Finn for Bres in Aus when Finn was the leading wicket taker and Bres came in and did a great job when I believe the series was 1-1 with Aus just having squared it and as far as I'm aware when Bres has been available he has been selected

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 8, 2012, 19:59 GMT)

@riprock: horses for courses mate. I'm sure a lot of the test team could do fine in the other two formats, but: (a) do they want to? (b) it just so happens they have other players better suited to the other formats. You can't argue: 1st, 4th and 1st in test, ODI and T20 rankings respectively! Come on... there's something right going on for a change. Not all players out there are fantastic at all three formats, and those that are seem to be retiring (at an alarming rate) from one or more forms to cope.

Posted by   on (June 8, 2012, 19:44 GMT)

Now I'm beginning to think Bert Sutcliffe's 42-Tests-zero-wins record may not have been plain bad luck after all.

Posted by   on (June 8, 2012, 0:24 GMT)

Excuse me. Don't forget the greatest match winner of all Time. Sanath Jayasuriya. More than 40 runs in an innings meant that we usually won.

Posted by riprock on (June 7, 2012, 21:03 GMT)

Bresnan is quite a capable and dependable cricketer. And one of the very few English players who's almost cemented his place in the team in all the three formats! Do any of England's first choice test batsmen have a place in the T20 team? Cook, Strauss, Trott, KP, Bell, Prior? I fail to understand how a team can be the best in one format and suck in two other formats?

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

I would put Scholes in this talk similar to the use of Arteta and Makele. Scholes was brought into the ManUtd side after Christmas when they lost a number of games incl at home to Blackburn over that period. They were 5-8 points behind Man City, then they swung back to an 8 point lead. Admittedly, they subsequently lost on goal difference - yet Scholes was a talisman. He elevated a weak Man U side close to champions. He doesnt score as much as Lampard, fouls too often to be considered a strength, yet his assuredness and composure proceeds his reputation. He is feared by opponents.

Posted by gkminty on (June 7, 2012, 15:47 GMT)

That's what Rahul Dravid has done. When he plays, he reduces the effectiveness of more potent players like Sachin, etc. by eating so many balls that others are forced to take risks.

Never ever we have seen Dravid bat dominantly with a partner. It is always assumed that the other partner will take risks and Dravid will "hold" one end. Why? Always -- be it Sehwag, Sachin, Ganguly, Laxman.. its always the other who becomes aggressor. Then they all get out trying to break shackles.

I would rather die trying than just stand and keep taking a beating and in the end just say - "I am the last one standing so I must be the bravest one". Moreover all victories in test cricket are created by taking 20 wickets -- Bowlers win games. Batsmen just delay the inevitable.

Inverse Battier -- the great Wall. His wins are all masked by great bowling performances (Adelaide - Agarkar, Harbhajan - Kolkata, Zaheer, etc.)Lara had poor bowlers so he never won. Ponting/Kallis always had great bowlers.

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 7, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

First class stats do not lie. Bresnan will be shown up by the Saffers (from the other team) and prove that he is just warming up Finn's spot.

Posted by NonStriker on (June 7, 2012, 1:29 GMT)

Lots of variables and still only a short career(in particular, don't judge a batting average on 9 completed innings), but I think Bresnan illustrates the value of sticking around in the lower/middle order with the last of the recognised batsmen and the tail and "Bowling dry" (his economy rate is less than 2.7ish - very good these days I'd guess). Both allow his team mates to flourish around him in and illustrate the point Ed doesn't quite get around to making.

Posted by Meety on (June 7, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

I really like Bresnan, the only real negative I would say about him is that his FC stats are no where near as good as his test stats AND his short form stats are slightly below what I would say is par for a good bowler. Despite all this, I think 13 tests is a reasonable sample size, it's interesting that his stats are NOT bolstered by his 3 tests against bangladesh, with whom he has his WORST stats, his best stats are against "good" sides like Oz & India, & has 30+ averages against WI, SL & Bang. So he really is a conundrum. I would expect over time his batting & bowling stats to lower, but how much so is anybody's guess.

Posted by   on (June 7, 2012, 0:13 GMT)

I remember when Bresnan was selected for the last Ashes series, i was very disappointed with the selection. At the time, i believed he was only a medium/medium-fast bowler who would get crucified on the Australian wickets. However, when he was given the chance he surprised both me and many others when he bowled very quickly. I think this underestimation has persisted since, o when teams focus on are attack they overlook him somewhat and he surprises them.

Posted by Deuce03 on (June 6, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

Calling Bresnan a bits and pieces player is harsh. His bowling average is very good (better than England's opening pair) and he would be eligible for selection as a bowler even if he couldn't bat. His ludicrous batting average is too high, but it gives an idea as to his capabilities. He's a genuine all-rounder; don't believe otherwise. England fans have expectations that an all-rounder will be swashbuckling and spectacular (Flintoff, Botham, Greig, Close in his early days) whereas Bresnan is more in the Trevor Bailey mould (this may explain why he's been less effective in ODIs. The England ODI team is also nowhere near as good as the Test side). That Bresnan isn't an exciting player doesn't make him ineffective - in fact, he's proven so far to be rather more reliable than Flintoff in his performances even if you ignore his extraordinary win record in Tests.

Posted by Rally_Windies on (June 6, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

his bowling average of 25 and batting average of 40 in Tests far exceeds what he delivers in 1st class cricket..

he qualifies as a batsman averaging 40 and a bowler averaging 25..

but face facts,,, it is because he does not have to endure a heavy playing schedule that he can put up those numbers...

If Bresnan was picked to play as an automatic start for a full 5 Test rubber and 5 Odi's .. the strain on his body will bring down his numbers close to his 1st Class returns...

Bresnan gives the English the ability to put him at 6, pick 2 spinners and 2 quicks... or 3 quicks, Bresnan at 7 and no spinner ....

He has to be managed properly, or he will break down at international level ..

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

Very nice article, Mr Smith! Bresnan, however, isn't unique. England used to play a batsman who only averaged 22.88 in his 39 tests and never scored a century. But as captain in 31 of them, this player won 18, drew 9 and lost only 4, truly stellar. When Mike Brearley is mentioned, people start to talk about magic captaincy but in fact he was neither that great a captain, nor was he lucky as 18 lost tosses to 13 won testifies. But Mike Brearley had that hard-to-define "Bresnan factor" to the extent that it might be a better choice to name it the "Brearley-factor". When you look at some of his players such as Botham and Willis, their best years and performances came during his captaincy.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 18:43 GMT)

I still think Bresnan has to prove more as a bowler (especially England going for a 4 man attack), but I am really confident of his batting abilities. Given his stats so far, he is definitely on the route to greatness. To all his critics, suck it up, this is the level test cricket is at the moment. Beat them and prove otherwise.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 17:15 GMT)

Like-wise S Badrinath of IPL team Chennai Super Kings is also an underrated player who gives the right balance, class & more importantly acts as a saviour to the side every time it is in trouble.

Posted by voma on (June 6, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

Tim Bresnan deserves his place in the England team , hes no lucky charm . He brings decent bowling and is an attacking batsman , comparable to Flintoff . Its only the fact that England have the best bowling attack in test cricket , that sometimes he doesnt seem to get the respect he deserves .

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

not a very good article.please keep this site to cricket.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

Bresnan does fills important roles in the team, making the England team stronger. Firstly he can hold an end and bowl very tightly, meaning that Broad, Anderson and Swann can attack more. However he still chips in with plenty of wickets (unlike, say, Ashley Giles, who really was just a holding bowler other than on spinning pitches).

Bresnan is also a very strong fielder, and his batting (which is very good) means that England only have one tailender in James Anderson.

Steven Finn takes more wickets at a cheaper rate. However he is also young, raw, and therefore prone to off days when he can go round the park at 5 an over. He also can't bat and isn't as good in the field. Even if Finn were to average 20 with the ball, Bresnan can easily make up for averaging 25 by scoring runs.

Over time I think Finn will be the better player, but you have to pick who is the best fit for the team at this moment, and for now at least it is Bresnan.

Posted by cricketator on (June 6, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

Well, if you're a columnist you can get a pass on anything you write. If you want to compare cricket with other sports, why not first compare Bresnan's performance with other formats. He has been on the winning side in only 26 out of 58 ODIs he has played. What does that tell you? He is one of the worst bowlers at death- he gives up under pressure. Look at his recent ODI stats: 1/47,1/36, 0/40,2/62,2/41,0/66. A hard working but unreliable player who need to improve his pressure handling skills. I am a test enthusiast, but for the purists who wouldn't even look at shorter formats, they should read about the fate of the Boxing Day test in SA.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

I wonder how Mahendra Singh Dhoni was missed out in the list. He became a captain because of the same prowess and is continuing to do the same .Individually he doesnt bring much to the team in terms of sheer talent but he makes the team perform like a team somehow.

Posted by jb633 on (June 6, 2012, 12:44 GMT)

@Shezad Ghani- Bresnan was injured during the tour fo the UAE. I must confess though that I think this record would have gone up in smokes had he been part of that debacle. I think this article actually underestimates Brez as the individual cricketer. To almost suggest he is a lucky charm, glosses over his impressive personal stats. I still feel he may struggle against India this winter. That is now the litmus test of any bowler. Beat the Indians in their own back yard and then we can talk about the win record of Bresnan.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

I can't help but feel that this article rather over-complicates matters, or at least tries to apply a theory to the wrong situation. Bresnan averages 40 with the bat and 25 with the ball. Any team that can afford to have such a player batting at 8 and being 4th choice bowler must be very, very strong indeed. There's no need to look for intangibles within Bresnan himself when he's returning those sorts of performances. If he were averaging 25 with the bat and 40 with the ball, but somehow England overperformed with him in the side then a lot of this article would hold true. As it is, although the article in itself is an interesting read, I'm not sure it correctly deals with the facts at hand.

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (June 6, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

Brez was injured for the UAE tour, and the Eng bowlers did a great job v Pakistan, it was the Eng bats that let them down so badly... IMO Brez is a 13 win passenger with a quirky stat, Finn with a strike rate of 43 (vs TTB's 55) is a better bowler and prospect, and as a member of the paying public that is what I want to see.. not bits and pieces.. Finny in my team over Brez anyday.

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (June 6, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

'In football, the very best players are often rested for easy games - so they miss on easy "pluses".' Surely Mr Smith's fights shy of the point that Bresnan demonstrates that this applies to cricket too. Early in his career in particular Bresnan would not have been England's first choice at all. His first five games were all against Bangladesh and the West Indies, and to date more than half his test career has been against these opponents.

Posted by mrhamilton on (June 6, 2012, 12:18 GMT)

@MCHECKLY WOW you honestly think this england team lacks a true as you call it 50/50 all rounder? Well the same can be said of pretty much any team in history. Its not a accurate or fair measuring stick. Botham during 77-82 was a true 50/50 all rounder equally great at both. After that particularly from 86 to 92 he became more or less 65/35 or 70/30 in favour of his bowling as his batting deterioted badly. Greats like Imran Khan, Hadlee and Dev were also not 50/50. This england side has Broad a man who has scored 169 in a test and takes wickets prolifically. Bresnan is a true all rounder also unlike collingwood whose bowling was not up to test class or even one day class. This england team does not lack if that is your point.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 11:15 GMT)

@Dashgar Actually the funny thing is then you look at Bresnans stats in detail is that his averages have been padded by playing against "minnows" like India and Australia (Averages 16 and 19 with the ball respectively over a total of 5 matches). Its early in his career but played 13, won 13, while averaging 40 with the bat and 25 with the ball is a solid start by any standard.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 11:07 GMT)

Well I totally have to disagree with this article! Bresnan has excellent statistics! He has a better test bowling average and Strike Rate than both Anderson and Broad. And a test Batting average of 40+, Which is almost the same as strauss! His ODI Stats are Average, but they can get better. Bresnan's place should not be questioned in the test side...

Posted by mcheckley on (June 6, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

Bresnan bowls very well, although he doesn't always look classical. He can hold the bowling together when perhaps less robust superstars are on a bad day. His fielding is first class, his attitude also. And, although it's very much his second string, he won't let the team down with a cricket bat in his hands.

Now take that paragraph and replace all references to bowling with batting and vice versa, and replace the word Bresnan with the word ....... Collingwood.

Thr bowling allrounder and the batting allrounder. Absolutely key contributors, particularly in a team that lacks a true 50 / 50 allrounder such as Botham, but it's not always immediately apparent.

Posted by vm85 on (June 6, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

@Dashgar: Remember the 4 tests against India? What unfolded was a complete thrashing of the "world champion" team who make tall claims, but had no clue where their off stump, middle stump and leg stump were on the entire tour. It is very easy to be cynical of someone else's achievements.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 6, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

I don't think you can really compare cricket to basketball or football (soccer) when it comes to interaction between players. Cricket is obviously a team game and player interactions will have an impact but to a far lesser degree. In basketball, a good point guard will make scorers look good by getting them the ball at the right place and the right time while a good defensive player can make his teammates look better by sagging off his own man and helping out. Football is similar because its a game where everyone is on the playing field doing basically the same thing all at the same time, with success relying on the ball being shared as they advance it. Bresnan can't help others bat or bowl any better because he has no input into what they do. I think he is a good player who has contributed to his side winning when he has played and has been lucky enough to miss the losses and that's all. I don't see him having been the difference in UAE, unless he had scored 70 in the second Test.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (June 6, 2012, 9:29 GMT)

I often hear commentators saying Bres is a positive influence in the dressing room. Wonder how much that comes into these "stats".

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 6, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

@landl47: I don't agree cricket is an individual sport. There was an article about this last year or the year before, and people are strongly divided. When bowling, I think team aura is extremely important: the bowler at the other end should support you by either attacking or creating pressure, like Warne+McGrath were excellent at. Fielders should be alert and 'want' to take catches. When batting, great players have different styles, and you should play to that. Think about Sehwag's explosive attacking style vrs. Chanderpaul's stubborn limpet style. Bresnan (and Flintoff) have a nice aura about them; no matter what they do/did they try hard and the team always feel something good will happen. Stats will never explain this phenomenon, which is why stats are never "the be all and end all of cricket".

Posted by Dashgar on (June 6, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

What's his record in the sub-continent? What's his record vs South Africa? Seems to me he's played 2 matches in the ashes and the rest against a bunch of minnows.

Posted by Nightbat on (June 6, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

No prizes for guessing who is the greatest inverse-Battier of all time: Sachin Tendulkar.

Posted by SouthPaw on (June 6, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

I liked the original article on Battier better than this one; don't think Bresnan is the right comparison.

Posted by tpjpower on (June 6, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

I think Bresnan has two important qualities that bring out the best in the other English bowlers. Firstly, and most importantly, Bresnan is seen as reliable and consistent. The other quicks can focus on attacking the opposing batsmen because Brez is available to tie up an end if necessary. Secondly, he is not seen as a matchwinner in his own right. The other bowlers can't afford to relax in the belief that Brez will blast the opposition out. Basically, Bresnan's presence in the team encourages his teammates to play positive cricket and focuses them on the task of taking wickets (the key to winning games). Ed points our that Bresnan is yet to do anything extraordinarily brilliant during his Test career - but nor has he done anything disastrous. He doesn't let his side down. Compare Finn - a more talented wicket-taker perhaps, but a less consistent performer at this stage of his career whose profilgacy saw him dropped in Australia. Bresnan's strengths aren't so mysterious after all.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

If this is true then I fear for Mr Bresnan's Test career once the SA series is over, because I don't think they'll be such an easy pushover. A few successive losses and he'll be sidelined again. Mind you - perhaps we will whitewash SA! Can but hope that his 'magic' (and his performances) work.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (June 6, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

@Posted by on (June 06 2012, 04:35 AM GMT), because he was recovering an operation on his elbow in Oct/Nov 2011, and the Selectors decided not to risk him in the UAE when he complained that his elbow was still sore.

Posted by Dawmicha on (June 6, 2012, 8:16 GMT)

Just looked at the forecast for Birmingham for the next few days. Bresnan's going to need to something special to avoid his first draw.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

DrArun Pras, I think you are probably right, but it does illustrate the funny thing here which is that England have lost a lot of games during Bresnan's career, and that he has so far avoided those losses. Contrast Gilchrist who was simply the icing on a brilliant Australian cake (and won his first 15). I doubt that there were many losses in that period for Australia. I also agree with the first guy, that no doubt South Africa series will end the run, unless he is lucky enough to avoid it. One other thought about this metric - Australia had a second spinner MacGill, during Warne's era, and MacGill only normally played when conditions supported two spinners, and no doubt his plus/minus benefitted from which matches he played.

Posted by Nuxxy on (June 6, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

Of course decent statistic models needs a decent sample size...more than 13. Unless you're saying that Vernon Philander is better than any other fast bowler for the last 80 years.

Posted by ThePieChucker on (June 6, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Not to be pedantic, but Shane Battier is a former small forward for the Houston Rockets. Now he plays for the Miami Heat.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 6:48 GMT)

LOL. What happens to the TALISMAN in the shorter forms, huh? this only applies to tests it seems.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

Shane Battier plays for the Miami Heat now.

Posted by HadleeCrowe on (June 6, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

big fan of these cross game comparisons... very intereting read .. landl47 does bring up some valid points but misses the point of the article whihc is more about the players performance affecting those around them

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

Have you checked out Jaideep Verma's Impact Index? He works on a metric like this...

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 5:43 GMT)

What this article fails to point out is why and when Bresnan gets picked. Bresnan will only be picked generally when the conditions suit his style of bowling, where a pitch has pace and or bounce. This also happens to be England's main attack strength. So, in short Bresnan is really only picked when the conditions are optimum for England's main strength, making it more than likely that he will be on the winning side. Why was he not picked for the tour of UAE earlier in the year? Because the conditions suited taking a second spinner instead. What was the result? 3-0, why? Because the conditions did not suit England's strengths therefore they lost. Off memory England played Tremlett for the first test of that tour and they got trounced. Had they played Bresnan instead I have little doubt the score would have changed

Posted by DEDKIK on (June 6, 2012, 5:17 GMT)

There was a West Indian player Eldine Baptiste who had a 10/10 record, although his own contribution was probably less than that of Bresnan.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

Wonder where he was during the series against Pakistan!

Posted by landl47 on (June 6, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

It's an interesting thought, but the difference between cricket and every other sport quoted in the article is that cricket is more of an individual sport. I know of no such phenomenon in baseball, which is America's nearest comparable sport to cricket. Bresnan just happens to have been in the right place at the right time. As an example, he has only batted 11 times in the 13 tests in which he has played. England has put up such massive scores that he's only been needed less than once per game, so how is that due to him? With the ball, he has taken 52 wickets; 4 wickets per game is a good average for any bowler (it's better than Anderson or Broad), but Finn has almost the same record (13 tests, 53 wickets) and his winning percentage - W9, D2, L2- is also very good, even though he and Bresnan have only played in 4 games together. If Bresnan plays in all 3 tests against SA and England wins all 3, then I'll start believing it. If not- it's just a coincidence.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

Why didn't they played him in the test series against Pakistan which england lost 3-0....??? had he played in it... his talismanic status would have been gone... :-)

Posted by ibbotsoni on (June 6, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

Brilliant observations. Really good article.

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