Why Australia won the CB series

Review of the CB Series 2012

By Jatin Thakkar and Soham Sarkhel

In a series that went up and down, Australia’s continuous dominance over India (and despite periodic caginess against Sri Lanka) earned them their first ODI Tri-Series win in Australia after a gap of six years since it became rechristened as the CB Series. Australia’s win can be heralded as their answer to the growing allusions of their fading supremacy in world cricket. Their perfect mix of youth and experience brought in boldness and composure in equal measure, and helped them vanquish the two World Cup finalists.

Here is a review of the series through the prism of Impact Index.



Observations:

Shane Watson is the 20th-highest impact player in ODI history. There are just 3 players in ODI cricket today who have had a higher impact than him - Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis and MS Dhoni. True to this billing, Watson was the highest impact player of the series with his Series IMPACT of 4.75 (with an all-round IMPACT of over 1 in both batting and bowling). His inclusion in the latter stages of the tournament (after being injury-free) proved to be a turning point for the Aussies as suggested by his performances in the 1st and 3rd final which earned him Series Defining status. It should also not be forgotten that Watson captained Australia for two matches in the absence of Michael Clarke and led them to victories in both of them and eventually garnered a captaincy impact greater than that of Clarke’s.

Michael Clarke was the second-highest impact player in the series for Australia and was incidentally also the highest impact batsman. Although his century in the 2nd final came in a lost cause, he ensured that he chipped in throughout the tournament to provide crucial support in the middle order. His failure rate of 17% was also the lowest amongst all the players in the entire tournament. To complement the experience he brought to the middle-order was his ability to absorb pressure – he faced pressure 5 times in the series when he came out to bat, and successfully absorbed it 4 times. Despite having played just 5 and 6 matches respectively, both Watson and Clarke ensured that the Australian campaign never went off-the-rails in the series. 

For David Hussey, this series showcased his mettle as a masterful ODI player for the first time in the international circuit – as he fulfilled a great deal of the promise he had shown in the Australian domestic league. He played a crucial role in all the 11 matches for Australia to rank as the third-highest impact player in the tournament with an all-round impact in the tournament. His bowling performance in the 1st final also earned him a Series Defining bonus. Hussey also had the highest Strike Rate IMPACT in the tournament (though conventionally, there were four others ahead of him when it came to strike rate) and absorbed pressure 4 times for Australia while batting.

On a Series Impact scale Clint McKay was the highest impact bowler on the table. His series tally of 15 wickets was the highest for any bowler and his haul of 5-28 in the third final also earned him a Series Defining bonus and Australia their tournament victory.

Brett Lee was the 5th highest-impact bowler in the tournament and was amongst the three highest impact Pressure Building bowlers in the series behind Watson and Hilfenhaus.

Overall, Australia was well-served by the seniors as well as youngsters like McKay, Warner (2nd highest impact batsman in the tournament) and Wade, who delivered crucial performances. It is also to be noted that David Warner was the only batsman to have a Series Defining performance in the tournament due to his back-to-back centuries in the 1st and 2nd final, a feat auguring well for Australia’s future.

For Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara had the highest Series Impact of 2.83. In almost all the innings he played in, he played second fiddle to Dilshan, Jayawardene and Chandimal and was instrumental in the middle overs for the Lankans. His Partnership Building IMPACT was the third-highest amongst his Lankan teammates, a quality that lends to Sri Lankan cricket its current stature of fighters.

Tillakaratne Dilshan’s
first series after he stepped down as the captain also proved to be a huge success for him as he emerged as his team’s highest impact batsman. His knock of 106 runs in the 2nd final also got it a Big Match stature and stretched the tournament into the third final. His starts with Mahela Jayawardene continuously throughout the series at the top proved to be very beneficial for Sri Lanka’s strong batting in the later part of the tournament. His Partnership Building Impact was the third-best in the entire tournament, underlining that contribution. He got the Man-of-the-Series award – a somewhat bizarre choice however, given how many players had a higher impact than him (12, if minimum matches are 4!).

One of Sri Lanka’s biggest finds of the tournament was no-longer rookie Dinesh Chandimal. He was the 8th highest impact batsman in the tournament and the 2nd highest for Sri Lanka. Chandimal had an impact in all the batting parameters; he particularly excelled in absorbing pressure without letting it affect his pace of scoring (Strike Rate IMPACT). His partnership building ability as well as his ability to chase suggested a player who has confidently found his feet and looks set to go to the next level.

Mahela Jayawardene’s decision to put himself up the order was a bold and rewarding move.  His natural attacking game, previously inhibited by the responsibility of holding the middle-order together, was freed up and it brought in good results. His first three matches as a middle order batsman fetched him a Batting Impact of 1.32 whereas his last eight matches as an opener was a considerably superior 2.13. In fact, his performance as an opener was a huge improvement from his Career Batting IMPACT of 1.65, and it does make one wonder if his going up the order could have the same impact Tendulkar’s elevation to the same spot did in 1994 for India.

Together, these seniors, alongside young Chandimal, strengthened Sri Lanka’s batting as the tournament progressed into its latter stages.

Surprisingly for Sri Lanka, their highest impact bowler was the unassuming Farveez Maharoof. His Bowling Impact of 2.40 in the 7 matches that he played was the highest for any Lankan bowler. His ability to break partnerships was identified by his Partnership Breaking IMPACT which was the highest amongst all the bowlers in this tournament. His failure rate of 28% also shows his consistency and was the lowest for any Sri Lankan bowler in this entire tournament.

Malinga was off-colour in the tournament – especially in light of his status as Sri Lanka’s second-highest impact bowler in ODI history (after Muralitharan, of course, but ahead of Vaas). Malinga registered the worst Economy IMPACT (ability to bowl tight) in the tournament. His performance against the Kohli-led Indian chase in the 11th match of the series being his worst. His failure rate as a bowler in the tournament was 45% (against his career failure rate of 37%).

Rangana Herath
(9 matches) had the highest Economy IMPACT in the tournament only behind Watson (5 matches) but had a very low impact when it came to taking wickets, a case similar to that of Doherty’s (3rd highest Economy IMPACT in the tournament in his 11 matches). While containing runs has become a tougher job since T20 cricket began affecting the 50-overs version too, the highest impact bowlers in ODI cricket have always been the wicket-takers.

Angelo Mathews continued his brilliant show as an all-rounder (both his Batting and Bowling Impact was over 1 in the tournament) and held Sri Lanka together in the matches he played in. David Hussey, Watson, Pathan and Mathews were the four pivotal players for their respective teams as they were the only four genuine all-round IMPACT players in the tournament.

India’s story in the tournament meanwhile revolved around the successes of Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir. Unsurprisingly both were India’s highest-impact batsmen in the tournament. Both of them delivered very high Chasing IMPACT numbers in the series with Kohli leading the way with his spellbinding chase against the Lankans at Hobart.

Irfan Pathan's return in the Indian squad could not have been better as he was India’s highest-impact player in the tournament. In a series in which the Indian team management at every step tried to drill in their rotation theory, it is odd that Pathan was handed out only 4 matches in the tournament. He was also the only Indian player to have an all-round Impact (both Batting and Bowling Impact over 1) in the series. Pathan’s stature as India’s 8th highest impact player in the ODI history coupled with his failure rate of just 23% as an all-rounder is well magnified by his performance in the recently concluded series and just goes on to show the crucial role he could play, if given ample opportunities.

MS Dhoni's stature as India’s highest impact ODI player in history was bolstered yet again through his match-winning, and tying, performances against both Australia and Sri Lanka. Interestingly though, contrary to Dhoni’s explosive reputation in ODI cricket, he actually had the second-lowest Strike Rate IMPACT amongst Indian batsmen in the series – after Tendulkar.

Umesh Yadav was the biggest disappointment in the bowling department considering the amount of promise he showed during the test series. In the 6 matches in which he played his overall Bowling Impact was less than 1 and was the worst seamer in the entire tournament. Ravindra Jadeja however gave him close competition and managed to go past him on the Series Impact charts only due to his otherwise dismal Batting Impact of 0.61. Jadeja’s all-round credentials also suffered a huge blow as he failed to cross an IMPACT of 1 in both batting and bowling in the entire series. His failure rate of 72% (the highest amongst the bowlers in the series) suggests an inadequacy on foreign pitches.

The biggest disappointment in the entire Indian batting line up had to be the consistent failures of Sachin Tendulkar and his opening partner Virender Sehwag. Tendulkar’s Batting Impact of 1.03 was the second-worst only to that of Sehwag’s 0.63. Their failures put enormous pressure on the Indian middle order. Tendulkar’s failure was especially shocking as he was India’s mainstay the last time India won the CB series in 2008 - his Batting Impact in the 2008 CB Series was a whopping 2.91 as compared to this time’s 1.03, a drop of 65%.

Of all the performances that had an IMPACT of above 5 in the series, Australia had the maximum with 9 such performances, Sri Lanka 6 and India 3. Australia’s best individual performance was Warner’s in the 1st Final (Batting IMPACT 6.44), Sri Lanka’s best came from Maharoof (Bowling IMPACT 5.33) in the 6th match against Australia when the latter were all-out for 158 and he in turn was closely followed by Chandimal (Batting 5.17) in the last league match where Sri Lanka were in a must-win situation against Australia. India’s best performance came from Kohli (Batting IMPACT 6.96) in India’s last league match under similar pressure. From the above instances it can be said that the youngsters have truly come into their own in all the three teams.  

Overall, Australia delivered a Team Tournament IMPACT of 2.17 as compared to Sri Lanka’s 2.02 and India’s 1.78. Australia’s seniors topped the IMPACT chart and ensured that the youngsters in the team got enough support to win the trophy for their team.

For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com

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