What fascinates me about cricket is that it is the inverse of baseball. In baseball the really good pitchers are the rarity. Against them even the best hitters can only hope for mediocre performance. At any one time, almost everyone in the major leagues can hit a 90 mph fastball (those few who can't don't last long). So, on the days when a mediocre pitcher or pitchers are unable to control their other pitches, the scores can balloon to lopsided totals that are not seen in even the most thorough drubbings in cricket. The rule for the really good pitchers is the same one Craig has just shared: you have to get to them early. Once a great pitcher has adjusted to the shape of the ballpark's mound and the effects of the day's weather and gotten the first few outs, he will be nearly unhittable.

Galen Cawley replies:

Agreed, but you can't omit this guy!
More importantly, I found this entire discussion on pitching and the art of deception to be utterly fascinating. The video analysis is eye-opening.

It tells you why you know what you know pitching (and hitting)…and makes your knowledge better.

Stefan Jovanovich comes back:

Absolutely. The entire art of pitching is to not let the batter get comfortable with where he is looking. "The plate is 7 baseballs wide; until you get to 2 strikes, you look at either the inner 4 or the outer 4." (That is a steal from a MLB hitting coach whose name escapes me right now.) If you let the batter look in the same horizontal box, he can hit the pitch, as Husband says, even if he is looking "in" and the pitch is thrown "out".

My only quibble is to point out that Maddux's performances in the post season were mediocre. By the time the best teams get to the playoffs and especially the World Series they finally get enough rest between games to be really quick with their bats. That is when a pitcher needs to be able to simply throw it past them - as Maddux couldn't. The pitchers who could reach a virtual speed of 95+ - "virtual" because there are left-handed pitchers like Warren Spahn and Madison Bumgarner who used their high leg kick/body turn to hide the ball as they delivered it on the diagonal Husband describes. Their balls came faster than they were thrown.

Of course, there was also a pitcher named Koufax who hid the ball but didn't need to; he was positively unfair.

Craig Mee comments:

What are the market analogies? Could this conclusion below, for the very best batsmen in cricket be suitable for the top performing markets / sectors . IE The greatest risk is for them to stumble early in a session otherwise it pays to expect further strength?


"The conclusion seems to be that there is a very small window in the beginning of a batsman's innings in which there is a greater chance of dismissal than there ordinarily is. This makes sense — batsmen take some time to acclimatise to the game conditions. But this is a small window — once the batsman has scored about three runs, you have the same chance of dismissal whatever the current score. Interestingly, tiredness does not seem to play a part — the exponential distribution holds well out to 250 runs (quite a few hours of batting).

It should be remembered that this analysis was completed on the top 34 run scorers of all time (5953 innings) and so represents the best ever batsmen. Lesser batsmen are likely to get low scores, so perhaps this window is slightly wider for them. But if we turn to the greatest of the great, Bradman, the window is essentially one run. His effective average before he had scored was a very mediocre nine runs. After he had scored two runs, this effective average had risen to 69. You had to get Bradman out very early!


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