The countdown ahead of Scotland’s T20 World Cup campaign continues. Here is a deep dive into the analytical side of the squad, detailing the player roles, extra hidden stats that may take you by surprise, and how Scotland can maximise their resources to have a tournament to remember.
Below is the squad, including player roles for both batters and bowlers. This is how I would line up for the first match unless any injuries occur. The style of graphic comes from @Static_a357 who posts the best previews out there for T20 cricket.
Now, let’s start by having a look at the batting unit. In the graph below, your top tier player who scores the most boundaries and takes the most balls to get out is in the top right of the graph. It comes as no surprise that George Munsey is that man for the Scots.
Boundary percentage is crucial. If you hit more boundaries than the opposition in T20 cricket, you will win 85% of matches, according to Dan Weston, analyst at Leicestershire and Birmingham Phoenix, who I have taken a lot of inspiration from. If you haven’t checked out his work already, follow him on twitter @SAAdvantage.
George Munsey has a boundary percentage of 24.9, which is elite level. Munsey is a dynamic batter, meaning he is just as good at facing spin as he is pace. His strike rate against pace is 159 and against spin is 146. Both extremely good numbers. He comes into the World Cup off the back of a good run of form too, so it will be exciting to see how he goes.
Oli Hairs the next highest at 21.2. You will see Hairs’ stability is weak, being dismissed on average after 10 balls per innings. However, I think Scotland can use him differently to get the best out of him. In the Zimbabwe series, he batted 3 and in the recent warm-up game against Ireland, he opened, making scores of 5,0,8,0 and was dismissed by a pace bowler every time. However, against spin bowling, Hairs has a strike rate of 203 (it’s 127 vs pace) and is dismissed every 31.5 balls rather than every 10.5 vs pace. Therefore, it would be a better option to hold him back to around number 5 and bring him in when the spinners are on to play more to his strengths.
Kyle Coetzer will as always be paramount to Scotland’s success. The skipper has led by example on the pitch for years, and his stats back it up. He can be the man at the top of the order to anchor the innings and can accelerate when needed as well.
Richie Berrington, Calum Macleod and Matthew Cross all have similar numbers, which can be both good and bad. They are undoubtedly all shoe-ins to play every game if injury free and deservedly so. On tough pitches which we will expect to see, they can grind us through to a good total, but all bat at a similar tempo so when we need to go up a gear, can they do it? They are all capable of it.
Michael Leask’s numbers on the graph are poor, but we know what he is capable of. He scored a double ton in a domestic T20 this summer and operated fantastically as a finisher against Zimbabwe in the 3rd T20. His innings to see Scotland home against Papa New Guinea last week, 51*(34) under immense pressure, even though it was an ODI rather than a T20, emphasises what he can do. Mark Watt and Josh Davey can also provide some useful lower order boundaries.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the bowlers.
On this graph, we look at the number of dot balls bowled, and the number of boundaries conceded. We spoke earlier about how important scoring boundaries is as a batter. For a bowler, it’s obviously important to prevent them. And dot balls mean no runs, a build up of them means pressure, and pressure means wickets. Or something like that. Spinners are in red and seamers in black in order to separate them.
So, for this graph, you want to be in the bottom right, where immediately you will see Chris Greaves. His numbers are fantastic but come from a very small sample size. Only two matches and six overs, although he took 1/18 and 1/12 off three overs each time. Still pretty good early signs. Let’s hope he can keep doing similar as time goes on. As a leg-spinner, he’s an exciting option, and can provide a bit extra depth with the bat around number 8 or 9. A very nice pick for the squad.
Elsewhere, Scotland have a very good spin bowling unit. Mark Watt will lead the attack, capable of bowling in all three phases of the game, with an economy rate of below seven from overs 1-16. His best phase of the game is between overs 12-16, where he’s taken 25 of his 45 T20I wickets at an average of 12.
His left-arm spin twin Hamza Tahir has taken 15 of his 18 T20I wickets between overs 7-16, emphasising his bowling role as a defensive middle overs bowler. If Scotland were to go with a left arm spinner in the powerplay as a matchup, expect Watt to be used ahead of Tahir. Tahir has bowled 5 overs in the powerplay, taking 0 wickets and conceding 54 runs. Keep him for the middle overs to strangle the opposition run rate and pick up wickets along the way.
Michael Leask has really come into his own over the last month and grabbed his place in the side with both hands. Again, a middle overs bowler where 15 of his 17 wickets have come between overs 7-16. Being a right arm off spinner gives another dimension to Scotland’s spin attack. Often operates round the wicket to provide different angles and bowl to the set field. As mentioned before, his batting is a big plus too, and is in a rich vein of form.
Macleod and Hairs are part time options, who may bowl one over here or there. Macleod looks the better option, bowling three single overs recently, going for 0/3, 0/4 and 0/5. Economical and not leaking boundaries.
Finally, the seamers, who will be bolstered by the additions of Brad Wheal and Josh Davey to the camp. Scotland have rotated their seamers lately, and they haven’t yet found the best combination. Probably because it is yet to come as Brad Wheal slots in after a fantastic Hundred, taking 9 wickets at an average of 7.77, as well as another strong year with Hampshire. Wheal will most likely bowl two overs in the powerplay and two at the death. A top and tail bowler. 75% of his T20 wickets have come in the powerplay and at the death, showing how effective he is as a top and tail player.
Perhaps the best bowler statistically, Ali Evans. Judging by his numbers in the graph above, he merits a spot in the team. 49.6% of his deliveries are dots, and has the lowest boundaries conceded (14.9%), of any of the frontline quicks. In the powerplay, he’s fantastic. 57% dot balls, 6.34 economy and has grabbed 19 of his 36 T20 wickets in this phase. After seeing this data, he gets the nod over Josh Davey for me. I certainly don’t envy Shane Burger and his staff for the selection dilemmas they have!
Onto Josh Davey, who has been phenomenal for Somerset over recent years. It will be great having him back in a Scotland jersey. He also comes into the competition off the back of a T20 Blast Final, where his man-of-the-match performance in the semi was extremely impressive. He grabbed 4/34 and hit 11*(3) to get Somerset over the line with two balls to spare. I think him Evans and Sharif rotating will be the only real change we’ll see in the starting team.
Safyaan Sharif’s yorkers that tail in are another string to Burger’s bow with the ball. He has 22 wickets in overs 17-20, a good economy for that stage of the game, 9.66, and a strike rate of 12.2. He has been Scotland’s best death bowler in recent years, but the emergence of Wheal will maybe see him miss out the XI, especially with spin dominant pitches. Can also provide extra depth with the bat at 8 or 9 too.
Check out Issue 1 of the Scouting Cricket Magazine, which features a detailed 3 page profile on upcoming Scotland star Tom Mackintosh.
You can buy one here: https://scoutingcricket.com/magazine/
I’d expect Chris Sole to miss out when the squad gets trimmed for the tournament. He’s struggled for control recently, bowling several front foot and waist high no-balls. He also has the worst dot ball percentage and highest boundary conceded percentage out of the seamers in the squad. However, he is the quickest bowler, so his extra yard of pace will come into Burger’s thoughts and is a wicket taker. He’ll need to do a lot in the remaining warm-up games to make the cut.
Richie Berrington will provide some added stability with his cutters in the middle overs. A true stalwart of Scottish cricket. 21 of his 27 T20 wickets have come in the middle overs. Only conceding 11.7% boundaries and a healthy economy of 7.48, his medium pace could prove to be a handful on the sticky pitches. I’d have loved to have seen Adrian Neill doing similar with his extra height and bounce, but he unfortunately didn’t make the squad.
Also, Dylan Budge and Craig Wallace are in the squad but may find their chances limited. Wallace could bat anywhere in the top 7, is a backup keeper and has a slight preference to facing pace over spin, with 10 of his 15 international boundaries coming against seam bowling. Budge has impressed recently, batting at number six and can chip in with the ball, but it will be hard to displace the players in the strongest XI.
All in all, a very strong squad, plenty of options covered (other than a left arm quick), and a real feel-good factor around the nation heading into the tournament. Bring it on! #FollowScotland