Posted 20 hours ago

Hitting Against the Spin: How Cricket Really Works

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My one criticism is that the book is inconsistent in defining terms/acronyms, and some graphs are difficult to interpret because they’re insufficiently described. I did wonder if this would work, as coverage of cricket is already quite stats heavy, but I needn't have worried.

As far as Part 1 of the book is concerned however I have no hesitation in declaring that my initial misgivings on the subject of Hitting Against The Spin: How Cricket Really Works were entirely misconceived, and I have little doubt but that Part 2, which comprises around a third of the book’s bulk, will be just as fascinating to those who enjoy the T20 game. But charts and tables should be used to clarify and bring the data to life, but in this book every time I come across a new table or chart, I have to spend 5 minutes trying to work out what is going on - axes without labels, different shades of colour with no explanation. In an era of big-data, how are leaders in sport, business, politics and education supposed to use the power of this new tool productively? He held degrees in both English and Economics, and the ability to to articulate the world of one, with the words of the other. I wouldn't recommend it if you didn't follow cricket or thought Geoffrey Boycott was a brilliant analyst but it started off well and kept my interest to the finish.Only fifteen years ago it would have been difficult to answer them – cricket was guided only by decades-old tradition and received wisdom. He might as well have been talking about himself - a Maths graduate and professor who ended up as the analytical brains behind the 2019 title winning England team. Chapters were often linked to specific seasons or teams, which meant they had relatable case studies and weren't just abstract, and there was also less extrapolation of what could happen in future. An example looks at the importance, or not, of bowlers maintaining a good length as opposed to a full length. Filled with data from cover to cover, which I am generally not a fan of, but with cricket, it's fine.

By now I was hooked and was looking forward to the final few chapters of the book when I was presented with an analysis and discussion of the dumbest, most unsophisticated form of cricket, T20. However post-Covid, there has been changes how the cricket is played, Joe Root is reverse scooping in a Test Cricket and BazBall has arrived. The traditional opener at Arundel has long been dispensed with, sadly, but Kent will be one of the few counties to entertain the tourists. I'm a mild cricket fan, which is probably the minimum entry level for access to the book, but anyone who reaches that level will love the book, and for real cricket fans it qualifies as a must-read.

The overwhelming impression you get at the end of this is that this remains a science in its infancy, and there’s scope for lots more of this sort of thing. It was split into longer form cricket and T20, although the authors made a convincing case that they are very different in terms of approach and risk-taking. I find sports data intriguing, but I’m often limited in understanding by not being great with numbers and thanks to learning disabilities I find it very hard to read and understand tables.

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