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The Big Bash – for Master Batters only?

One of the first things everyone says when comparing Test cricket to T20 comps like the Big Bash League is that that Test cricket is a contest between bat and ball, and T20 is all about the bat. But how true is that sentiment? Is Test cricket really a contest between bat and ball when compared to the shortest form of the game?

About 6 months ago, we did a fair bit of analysis on test match cricket to come up with our model. For test match cricket, we had an endless supply of stats going back to the dawn of time (well the dawn of last century anyway), but we focused on the last 10 years of test cricket as we were more concerned with recent history.

What this analysis showed, was that the ICC bowling ranking of the top 5 bowlers of each team was the best individual factor when it comes to predicting which team would win. Amazingly, bowling rank predicted more winners than the bookies favourites.

It also showed that Test cricket is quite predictable, with the favourite winning ~70% the time.

Whilst the ICC bowling rank predicted the most wins, batting rank, and the averages all predicted 65% or more of the games correctly, as did just using the home team. This tells us that Test cricket is indeed a battle between bat and ball, but one where the home team has an advantage.

What about the Big Bash League? With the BBL we were slightly constrained on the stats front. The competition is relatively new, and there are also only 35 games a season. You may think that we could just use IPL, or other T20 competition statistics to bulk those out, however as the graphs of a number of batsmen shows below, IPL and BBL stats are not necessarily correlated.

As above, some batsmen do better in the IPL (e.g. Gayle), whilst others do significantly better in the BBL (e.g. Finch and Bailey). This is likely due to the batsmen being better suited to different types of pitches and/or bowling which they face in either competition (or in Gayle’s case he may be distracted by those reporters with beautiful eyes when playing in the BBL), but regardless the implication of this analysis is obvious – you can’t use IPL stats to predict performance in the BBL. (FYI – the batsmen in the graphs are effectively those which have played more than 15 games in each competition and average more than 15 – i.e. I have not cherry picked)

So what can you use to predict outcomes in BBL? Well it’ll be no surprise that the most important factor is a batting figure – but it’s not strike rate, it’s the plain old average. In fact the average strike rate of a team on its own is worse than flipping a coin, but when combined with other factors it is useful and a form of strike rate is part of the TipBetPro model. On the bowling front, again it shouldn’t be a surprise that the average economy rate of the team is the most useful bowling factor.

However, the chart below shows how much harder BBL is to predict when compared to test matches, with most factors capable of predicting less than 50% of the games.

Looking at that you might think that the bookies don’t know what’s going on and you should just bet against the favourite, but don’t be fooled by that simple stat. Although the bookies get a lot more wrong in BBL than say test matches, the odds reflect this and there are rarely (never) short priced favourites like there are in test matches.

I’m not here to discuss why the odds are closer, but it could well be that the BBL has a salary cap and other equalising measures, whereas test matches have no such measures – leading to a greater discrepancy between the best and worst teams.

Despite all of that TipBetPro is confident in recommending value bets throughout the season, just as we have done with other forms of cricket – remember we just have to beat the bookie, not tip every game correctly.

So who are we tipping to win the competition? Well we aren’t recommending a bet as the difference between most teams is not a great deal and the odds aren’t great, but…

As you can see, we rank Adelaide as the best team in the competition – the biggest problem they may face is when they lose Head late in the season to the Aussie ODI team. Note that the odds are only around $8, so not really worth it as the Melbourne squad (take your pick as to which one) are right up there too.

A quick heads up that due to the quick turnaround in games over the 39 days of BBL you are unlikely to see any write-ups for BBL, or even Tests and ODIs – it’ll almost be purely bet recommendations for this portion of the summer.

Of course if you want to know when the next recommendation comes out, how drunk I am (I just bottled some home brew - so the answer is very drunk), or my thoughts on the South China Sea dispute (this has something to do with that pool at the Gabba right?), feel free to follow us on twitter (@TBP_Cricket)

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