By San Gore (the “Stats Guru”)
We don’t play league cricket. Our social contract with the game is not just to play to win but also for our players to be given full opportunities to participate. After all, they have given up a whole day for us. A conflict of objectives but finely balanced for the enjoyment of all.
Having said this, we really are a competitive lot. We thrive on trying to score more runs or take more wickets or more catches than our fellow players. And that is good for the team. But who is ultimately the best player over a season, the one who has contributed most? How does one gauge an individual’s input to the team, balanced fairly between batting, bowling and fielding? In response to these questions I set up an unofficial “Points System” way back in 1998 and since fine-tuned each year. Very few amongst us really understood the details and indeed most did not care a fig, which is just as well as we concentrated on the game itself and not on all this statistical nonsense. However, for the curious, the table shows how the SanPoints are attributed. By way of explanation:
The top five in the batting order are expected to score runs and the points are determined by the runs they score, rising at a greater rate than those for the middle order (the next three batting slots) who often also bowl. The tail-enders are the main bowlers and they pick up the crumbs of the batting points. Minus points for a first ball duck is deliberately penal as it puts the incoming batsman under extreme pressure! Both batsmen involved in a run out receive minus points, regardless of the rights and wrongs, thus sharing the guilt.
Bowlers claim 4 points for each wicket with bonus points for three or more wickets. However, for the sake of equity, the bonuses are not applied to those who have batted in positions 1 to 5 and scored 20+ runs. This is to ensure that all-rounders who bat up the order do not dominate at the expense of the others.
Catches win matches, so 5 points are awarded for each catch held, but minus 2 points for each dropped. So when a fielder is under a swirling steepler there is a 7 point swing in it! Wicketkeepers are included too, with 5 points also for a stumping. Run outs count for 10 points to reward brilliance in the field.
At the end of the season adjustments are made for accumulated sixes and fours hit, and wides/no-balls and byes conceded.
The points are determined straight from the scorebook and are irrefutable, save for dropped catches for which the captain’s decision is final! Inevitably, like the averages, this is an imperfect system as many aspects which endear us to this great game are not recognised. For example, the batsman who blocks out to save a game, the bowler who keeps the runs down, or the fielder who makes brilliant stops on the boundary; all are too difficult to value numerically. Still, it’s all a bit of idle fun.