How important is a bowler's strike rate?

sifter132

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Had something on my mind and wanted to see what you all think of it: more and more Test cricketers are getting rated according to their strike rate, rather than their averages. Virender Sehwag and Dale Steyn are two of the most prominent examples, who although they have good averages as well, the thing that makes them 'great' is their strike rates.

Remember that strike rate is captured in the average. Sehwag doesn't last for a lot of balls compared to a Dravid for example, but scores a lot in those balls and hence he still has a good average. Steyn gets wickets very frequently, but also has a high economy rate which gets captured when you combine the 2 for his average.

A good strike rate is great for attacking cricket, but what happens when things aren't going your way and you have to save a Test? You can see from Sehwag's poor record in the 3rd and 4th innings that his value drops a LOT. So he's a fantastic attacking player, but poor player when more defensive cricket might be needed.

Generally though you don't see this type of thought process for bowlers. It seems the assumption is that a low strike rate can never be bad. But should not the limitations that Sehwag faces apply to Steyn as well? What happens when a batsman in seeing the ball really well, has the measure of Steyn and the only way he'll get out is through his own mistake? ie. What happens when more defensive measures are in order? In that case, Steyn is just going to leak runs, and quickly. And a match could slip away from South Africa more quickly than if 2 steadier bowlers were on.

What do you guys think? I'm not saying bowlers with great strike rates are bad eg. I think Waqar always gets a raw deal in comparison to Wasim, and Waqar has the better strike rate, and of course Steyn is still the #1 quick in world cricket. I'm just saying that a great strike rate is not the be all and end all of bowling, a well rounded bowler should be able to be defensive as well.

Anyone agree? Am I on the wrong track? What do you guys think on the subject?
 

shravi

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It's more important to a bowler than a batsman. As a bowler, you always want to get wickets as frequently as possible. It's not the same case with batsmen. That's why with bowlers, I think that their strike rates and averages are equally important. Bowlers look to save a test match far less often than a batsman so strike rate is absolutely vital to a bowler. Also, your point about the economy rate is separate to your point about strike rates. A bowler may go for very few runs and still take wicket frequently.

As for the point about letting the match slip away, it's not as if Steyn bowls all the overs. That's why there are off spinners and left arm spinners- to tie one end up, not as a wicket-taking option, but as a run saving option. The best way to stop the other team scoring is by taking wickets and that's what Steyn does, very frequently.
 
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sifter132

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I guess the old addage of batsmen save matches, bowlers win them is fairly appropriate. It's certainly more appropriate to praise bowlers strike rates than batsmen, I just think the pundits love aggressiveness (aka strike rates) slightly too much at present. Obviously no one else does though :D

The other thing is that there are 11 different guys that Steyn can bowl at and most of them won't be able to master him. Rarely will he be thinking defensively because even if one guy is playing really well, he can always target his partner.

I was also thinking of Brett Lee of 10 years ago who was so aggressive, so desperate was he for a wicket that he seemed to bowl only yorkers and bouncers. If you can keep a low strike rate without selling out to get wickets, that is true quality.
 

cricket_icon

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A good strike rate is more important to bowlers than it is to batsmen. Afridi has one of the highest strike rates ever in ODI cricket but none of us would call him a "great" batsman.
For batsmen, the average and the strike rate have to work in tandem. Take your example of Sehwag, he averages 53 wit ha SR of 81. That is phenomenal in test cricket but an equally impressive SR of over a 100 in ODI cricket but an average of only 35 doesn't make him a great ODI batsman.
On the other hand, for bowlers, they need to have as low an average as possible and in my eyes anyone who averages less than 25 is showing signs of greatness, particularly in limited overs cricket. A low average shows that the bowler in question can pick up wickets having only given away a handful of runs, example, Wasim picked up test wickets every 23 runs, that is phenomenal, but add to that a SR of just 54...meaning he picked up a wicket every 54 deliveries...makes him an all round great. Waqar had a similar average and an even better SR but that doesn't automatically make him a "greater" bowler than Wasim, because no sport, not even one as number driven as cricket, can decide greatness soully based on numbers and figures.
A quick word on economy rates, these can be important if a bowlers average and SR and not up to scratch, but if the person is picking up wickets consistently then economy rates are a tertiary factor.
So, in conclusion, a bowlers SR is extremely important but secondary to a good average.
 

puddleduck

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Dammit, just wrote a massive reply only to push back... Ok, who said good? Own up!

It is difficult to always pinpoint what it is that a bowler should bring to a team. The text-book bowler will bowl on a length and look to hit the top of off. However, if you have a team of 4 bowlers all doing the same, then as a batsman it becomes easier and easier to play. So because of that, teams look to have a varied or balanced pace attack, complimented if possible by a talented spin bowler who can either attack or defend. Now, to win a test match, in general, a team must take 20 wickets. A team of 4 economical bowlers will take longer to score against, but then they will also leave themselves less time to win the match themselves. Either in terms of time to bat, or in terms of bowling sides out. A team of aggressive, inconsistent yet dangerous bowlers will have the potential to run through sides, yet also to throw away entire games in a session or two of wayward inaccurate bowling... Devon Malcolm, I'm looking at you!

So, this leads us to a mild form of conclusion. A balanced attack gives you so many more options. A strike bowler, who will probably be referred to in terms of his strike-rate, is there because they possess the ability to attack new batsman. To, in the case of a fast bowler, threaten with a new ball, or a reversing ball. However, to do so they are probably going to need to bowl aggressive spells, spells that make most sense to bowl at times where they are assisted such as a new ball. With this as the case, and knowing that in cricket one wicket can so quickly bring two or three, a strike bowler will always have his place and his usefulness governed by having a balanced and controlled attack around him.

So whilst Steyn's SR/average is an important number, so too the economy/average of a first or second change bowler, perhaps expected to bowl longer, tighter spell against set batsman, is too. Because if you haven't got the support as a bowler, then batsman don't even need to play at you.

Also, averaging over 35 with a S/R of over 100 in ODI cricket are top class numbers. If you're S/R is closer to 75-80 then you need to average closer to 40.
 

cricket_icon

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Dammit, just wrote a massive reply only to push back... Ok, who said good? Own up!

Also, averaging over 35 with a S/R of over 100 in ODI cricket are top class numbers. If you're S/R is closer to 75-80 then you need to average closer to 40.

I completely agree, those are top class numbers, as I alluded to Sehwag but a great batsman they do not make.
 

puddleduck

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Interesting though that not one of the top 50 all time highest one day averaging batsman has a strike-rate over 100... The 50th highest of all time averages 38... So whatever he is, he's the best at what he does. Ever apparently. To place him alongside two of the best pinch-hitting aggressive openers in ODI cricket history, Jayasuriya averaged 32 with a S/R of 91 and Gilchrist averaged 36 with a S/R of 96. Maybe he could have scored more runs when he's in, but with the strength of the Indian batting lineup all his life, he's there to put them in control early. Not really sure what I'm proving. Just avoiding studying Middlemarch haha
 

War

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It's more important to a bowler than a batsman. As a bowler, you always want to get wickets as frequently as possible. It's not the same case with batsmen. That's why with bowlers, I think that their strike rates and averages are equally important. Bowlers look to save a test match far less often than a batsman so strike rate is absolutely vital to a bowler. Also, your point about the economy rate is separate to your point about strike rates. A bowler may go for very few runs and still take wicket frequently.

As for the point about letting the match slip away, it's not as if Steyn bowls all the overs. That's why there are off spinners and left arm spinners- to tie one end up, not as a wicket-taking option, but as a run saving option. The best way to stop the other team scoring is by taking wickets and that's what Steyn does, very frequently.

Hit the nail on the head with this one sir.
 

sami ullah khan

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Strike rate for a bowler is a very key statistics. Bowlers who have lower strike rate are what we call game changer. A steyn or Waqar can come in and take three quick wickets reducing opposition from a comfortable 200-2 to a worrisome 210-5. These bowlers are the enigma of cricket and bring about a lot of entertainment for the audience along the way.
 

mgt98

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Strike rate for a bowler is a very key statistics. Bowlers who have lower strike rate are what we call game changer. A steyn or Waqar can come in and take three quick wickets reducing opposition from a comfortable 200-2 to a worrisome 210-5. These bowlers are the enigma of cricket and bring about a lot of entertainment for the audience along the way.
I fully understand your point but if a bowler comes on a slows the scoring down but in doing so the wickets will dry up. The cricket does become boring but what would you want more? No runs and no wickets or wickets and a tad more runs?
 

cricket_icon

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avoiding studying Middlemarch haha

What is Middlemarch??

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And in reply to what MGT said, if wickets are not falling, then runs will forever be available to the batting side, they just might take longer to get, but if wickets are falling, the teams may get some quick runs in between but they will stop at a certain point. Hope that makes sense and doesn't sound like the ramblings of a man who woke up an hour ago.
 

mgt98

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I understand, and would not go against either point of view, but if it is a limited overs matches, drying the runs altogether is important but otherwise, wickets would be handy in Test Matches.
 

puddleduck

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This is why I was trying to hint at the important of a balanced attack. A strike bowler, a whole team of them, have the potential to be taken apart if things aren't going their way just as much as they can take teams apart. Wickets win you games, but as much as an individual bowler can take a wicket, it is more often a team performance that earns a wicket. When things are tough in the field, the ability to earn a wicket as a pack is vital.

Middlemarch is one of the greatest novels ever written by the long since passed away George Eliot. It is one of the first in English literature to foreground the ordinary people and everyday life. It is however long and dense.
 
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