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Why James Vince failed

17 August 2016

I’ve been intruiged by James Vince’s short test career since stumbling upon this statistic:

In the replies to that tweet, Gwilym Lockwood provided some great insight on boundary runs and Matt Roller wrote some more here.

I’ve since dug a little deeper and produced the graphic below, comparing a batsman’s ability to score boundaries against his ability to rotate strike. Vince has carved his own niche in the bottom right quadrant.

bat_runs

Vince is a natural boundary hitter; he ranks in the top 10% when it comes to proportion of balls hit for four or six. However, he has so far been hopeless at maintaining a high strike rate when not hitting the ball to the fence, in the bottom 5% for strike rate on non-boundary balls. It’s a relatively unique blend, and usually the reserve of numbers 6 and 7, rather than a number 4 (perhaps an alternative batting spot for Vince?).

Unsurprisingly, players in this quadrant average poorly – just as badly as those unattractive players who can’t rotate strike or score boundaries (but grind their runs out very slowly). Vince’s attractive strokeplay probably makes us overrate his potential, even if the numbers suggest he doesn’t profile like a top batsman. Indeed the Cricket Ratings website suggested his ‘expected’ test average was just 31.50 based on his first class record.

It’s hardly rocket science, but unless Vince can demonstrate an ability to rotate the strike – and to date neither his first class or test record suggest he possesses this – he appears unlikely to become a mainstay in the England team.

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