[by Ryan Campbell Head Coach Netherlands Cricket] As a player I’ll be the first to admit, I hated statistics. I felt that selectors could twist any figure into an argument that they wanted to win. Did they take into account the 32 I made off 122 balls to save the Sheffield Shield game 3 months ago or the 46 off 29 balls to set up a massive run chase win that put us on top of the table? Sadly, the answer a lot of the time was no, all they saw was the total runs scored and the average I was going at, drop him they said and that is what they did.
Fast forward 15 years and now I find myself at the head of Dutch cricket, the coach given the wonderful privilege to guide Netherlands cricket into an exciting future, one that will include our debut in the newly formed ODI Super League as well as a shot at T20 World Cup glory. To add to the coaching part, I’m also the sole selector in the country, it basically comes down to me to say yay or neigh to any given player. So how does a “used to be cynic” use statistics to formulate our master plan?
Before I do that let me just say that 2019 was a very important year for Dutch Cricket, not just because of the World Cup Qualifiers but it would also be the last year playing matches without the “cutthroat” environment of points on the line or our place in the World Cricket league being the priority. This meant I was able to expose as many of our youngsters out of the Topklasse as possible. In fact, we used 27 players leading into the World Cup Qualifiers with 8 players making their debuts at International level. This saw, on face value anyway, a record of Netherlands 25 T20 matches for 13 wins and two ODIs for 2 wins.
If you dig a little deeper into the results, things become very interesting. When the team was below full strength (no county players called back), the record was 7 matches for 1 win, with the full squad it was 18 T20s for 12 wins (8 of 9 at T20 WC Qualifiers) and 2 ODI wins against full member Zimbabwe. The losses with our Topklasse players have to be accepted if we are looking at the big picture and that is to quite simply improve the depth of talent in Dutch Cricket or we could just look at the win/loss record and say it was just an ok year, the choice is yours.
So how do we use statistics nowadays? It has become much more than just an individual’s numbers. For instance T20 is quite simply the game made for analytical dissection. Our Assistant coach James Hilditch breaks down each opponent very clearly. We can feed bowlers every piece of information required: Does a player scoop in the powerplay? Will he play the reverse sweep and if so what percentage of his runs come off left arm quicks compared to right armers?
To take it to a further level, we have information that tells us which of our bowlers’ bowls best in what over of the powerplay or at the death. For instance, Shane Snater is our leading wicket taker in the powerplay, yet statistics also say he cannot bowl any more than one over in the first 6. It’s enough to make your head spin!!! It’s all there to be used for both our batters and bowlers. To ignore the stats is ignorance but to overwhelm a player with numbers can also be harmful, you must know your audience!!
(This article was reproduced with thanks from the Kleefstra Almanak 2019 in which Head coach Netherlands cricket Ryan Campbell wrote the Foreword)