Data analyst Dan Weston talks about the importance of data and numbers in T20 cricket and on the mistakes teams may be making by ignoring them.
T20 cricket, which started off as an experiment some years ago, has today become a money-spinning sport. Even if the matches do not have international status, there is no shortage of intensity from the players. The IPL in India has to be credited for the success of the T20 format and the many other T20 leagues that have emerged in other parts of the world.
While players get all the credit for their performance on the field, it is the support staff that helps them to put up their best show. One of the support personnel is a data analyst, who keeps recording details of every ball bowled to generate useful insights to help the players.
According to Dan Weston, the data he collects enables him to come up with calculations and predictions on how players can perform across various formats and in different playing conditions. Experts suggest that such data is also quite handy for all those who are engaged in IPL cricket betting at Betway.
Weston’s data is certainly innovative and shows that cricket is not just what’s seen in the stadium but far beyond it, particularly. When it comes to selection, all that data can really help a team get an edge over its opponent.
Dan Weston says: “Quite a few coaches are old school, so it’s difficult to get them to buy into what you’re offering.
“There are just not enough fresh voices.
“Cricket is full of inane data like: ‘This is the slowest century by an English batsman on a Tuesday.’ It’s completely worthless.”
Dan Weston was once full time into gambling and later on he started working on producing extensive data for tennis. Soon, he applied his data expertise to cricket to supply data to T20 franchises, players and others to assist them in eliminating that are otherwise seen often in the sport.
Weston captures ball by ball information of the players to compile different data points whether they are average, economy, strike rate, or any other parameters. The individual data is generated on various factors like recency, opposition quality and match conditions.
With the expected stats he generates for individual cricketers for a given tournament, Dan Weston can predict how a particular player is going to perform in the matches. This allows him to recommend names of cricketers to IPL, T20 Blast and other T20 teams across the world.
Weston says: “Cricket is a conditions-driven sport, so a T20 Blast match at Canterbury will be a pace-orientated affair, whereas in Dhaka it’s going to be spinner-friendly and low-scoring.
“If a batsman performs well at Canterbury, does that really apply to a match in Dhaka? Probably not. There’s limited relevance. So I analyse how historically similar players have made the transition from one league to another.
“I might be asked to find a pace bowler for the T20 Blast, where an Australian will be quite highly-rated, as opposed to the IPL, where they haven’t thrived as much as their reputation would suggest because of the quality of the league.”
On the common mistakes made by teams, Weston says that the managements often fall into the trap of players’ reputation, which he thinks is at the heart of various misjudgements in recruitment.
Dan Weston says: “If a bloke like myself can sit in an office and produce decent theories and data about T20 I see no reason why a team with bigger resources can’t do the same.
“Lots of high-profile players are signed based on reputation rather than current ability. Take Brendon McCullum: he’s got a poor record against spin bowling, he doesn’t keep wicket anymore, yet subcontinental teams are signing him as a marquee player. It makes no sense whatsoever.”
Another mistake that is often made by teams is their selection preference of all-rounders over specialists. According to Weston, some players are wrongly selected in a T20 team based on their performance in Test cricket. An example he gives for this is England’s all-rounder Sam Curran, whose selection in the IPL was largely due to his performance in the home Test series against the Indians.
Although Sam Curran and other all-rounders are without any doubt multi-purpose players, their selection over the specialists doesn’t quite produce the desired results.
Weston believes that the role of the specialist cannot be underestimated in the T20 format, particularly with the ball, and his data is there to back his argument.
The data analyst explains: “You don’t want to stick an all-rounder at No. 9 because he’s just not going to bat.
“The average No. 8 faces about seven balls per match, and the average No. 9 faces about four balls per match. If those guys are required to face more than the average, your top order batsmen haven’t done their job properly.
“For No. 9, 10 and 11 you just want an out-and-out specialist bowler who would perhaps then be capable of playing a five-ball cameo.
“If you pick too many all-rounders you end up compromising where they bowl, because often they turn out not to be very good death bowlers.”
Weston also thinks that T20 teams can actually save their dollars if they focus on such data and numbers while predicting: “I think things will change in the next decade or so. We’ll find that cricket will turn to much more of a baseball-orientated, stats-driven sport.”
“If and when it does, it will be justification for his efforts.”