“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – Galatians 6:9
Last week, I addressed the question “Can the West Indies cricket team management motivate each player to achieve a batting average during the UK tour which is 10%, say, greater than their historical test batting average?” I suggested that this could be the new performance target for each player and if it is achieved we can expect an average team total of about 300, which is respectable even if not competitive. I added that I thought that it could be achieved with the right performance based incentives, performance monitoring system, dedication, motivation, commitment and loyalty and urged the management and players not to give up.
I received a number of responses including brilliant; good article; what about the bowling; serious strategic issues are not being addressed; performance has to be rated in more than just two criteria; management and technical staff must also be assessed not only the players. I am grateful for the interest and attempt to look at some bowling performance targets in this column.
What can we realistically expect from the team in terms of bowling performance in a Test match? The historical test bowling strike rates (average number of balls bowled per wicket taken) and the bowling averages (average number of runs scored per wicket taken) are, respectively: (1) Gayle – 91, 39; (2) Sarwan – 81,45; (3) Bravo -75,40; (4) Taylor – 57,33 or Sammy – NA; (5) Powell – 77,43 or Rampaul – NA; (6) Collymore – 67,31 or Edwards – 67,44. If we assume that the bowling is shared equally among Gayle, Bravo, Taylor, Powell and Collymore, say, in a given innings, then the average strike rate for the team is 73.4 or one wicket every 12 -13 overs. On average, in any given innings, we should bowl out the opposition in 125 overs, which is four sessions of play. Good fielding resulting in one or more run outs will improve the performance. The average number of runs scored per wicket taken is 37. The average score by the opposition is then 370. The number of extras conceded will increase this average.
Can the management team motivate each bowler to achieve an average bowling strike rate for the team of 66, say, or one wicket every 11 overs which is 10% less than the historical test bowling average but still above the international benchmark of 60 for a “good” test match strike rate? This could be the new performance target for each player for the tour and, if it is achieved, we can expect to bowl out the opposition, on the average, in 110 overs of less than four sessions. Can the management team motivate each bowler to reduce the average number of runs scored per wicket to 33, say, or by 10%? Then, the average score of the opposition will be 330.
Last week we argued that even with a 10% improvement on the individual batting averages of the WI team, the average team score per innings was not expected to exceed 300.
England is currently ranked #2 in tests and West Indies #8. We would expect England, based on the historical performance, to be better than the average opposition and hence average more than 330 per innings against the West Indies. England is therefore expected to outperform the West Indies even if the West Indies team is motivated to increase their historical batting and bowling averages by 10%.
The team management should be happy if the West Indies can perform better than their historical averages would suggest, even if we do not get the better of the exchanges in the tests. If perhaps we outperform England, then either they would have performed below what the test ranking would suggest or the West Indies would have been motivated to excel or both. In this case the management and team should be ecstatic and build from strength to strength.
The manager of the team has stated the following: “What we’ve done, we’ve put together a vision for the redevelopment of West Indies cricket, and a mission for the tour of England. That mission being to win 100 per cent. That’s what we’re aiming for. Now we have to put things in place to bring this off. This means training properly, resting properly, and eating properly, and it means understanding that the players are members of a team and have to unite and work together, so a lot of team spirit is required.”
The coach of the team has stated the following: “My expectations will be the same as the West Indies people who love and support the game of cricket and that is to have them as well prepared as possible, to play at the highest level, to give 100 per cent all of the time and to show a high level of discipline and commitment to the West Indies cricket and to their own personal cricket.”
The captain of the team has stated the following: “In any sport discipline plays a major part. When we played at home there was a bit of speculation about guys being not well disciplined and the board has acted accordingly.”
May the management team’s performance be judged against these stated performance targets.