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ICC World Cup – Ones to watch

For the champions trophy in 2013 I did a ‘ones to watch’ article. With the World cup just over two weeks away I’m going to repeat the process. Looking back at it several of the players in that retain their status as key players for their team. Dhoni and Kholi remain India’s stars, A.B. de Villers is still the best ODI batsmen and remains my favorite non english player, Anglo Matthews has gone on to become the undisputed star of the Sri Lankan team with what is a ridiculous run of form since becoming captain and Chris Gayle is still probably the most dangerous player at the event. One player we won’t get to watch is Sunil Narine, who has pulled out of the West Indies squad following having to remodel his bowling action.

As before I’ll go through the teams talking about their key players, hopefully picking out some lesser known names to keep an eye on. I wont be talking about the Zimbabwean, Irish, UAE, Afghanistan or Scottish teams as I simply don’t have a good base of knowledge about those teams to do so.

Australia – The hosts will be expecting to make the final and they have a lineup that boasts power in both the batting and bowling lineup. Captain Michael Clarke is a step above the rest of the batsmen so his attempt to recover from injury in time to be involved could have a large bearing on the success of the team. The other player I’m going to pick out is Mitchell Starc. I liked him when he was at Yorkshire and he seems to be developing into an international quality player rapidly.

Bangladesh – Tamin Iqbal, He is the man for Bangladesh who can drag them up to an intimidating total. A terrific striker of the ball he hasn’t quite kicked on from his first exciting burst in International cricket, the tournament would be enhanced if he could find his form here.

England – Well take your pick, huge amount of potential in the squad, Jos Butler in particular excites but Joe Root really seems to be Maturing for England and stitching the whole batting line up together. Root also seems to bowl reasonably tightly whenever given the chance to do so.

India – See previous article, still Dhoni and Kholi. Look better set up to chase totals than set them, Australia has rarely been a happy hunting ground for them so both captain and vice will need to help them repeatedly get high scores as it seems unlikely their bowlers will make it easy for them.

New Zealand – Go into the tournament with their usual tag of dark horses. Probably unfair this time as they should just be seen as one of the favorites along with Australia and South Africa. Brendan McCullum leads a truly exciting team that may just lack a bit of firepower in the bowling department. Tim Southee will lead their attack and will need to take a big bundle of wickets in tandem with former captain Daniel Vettori. Vettori’s return strengths the already strong batting lineup which stars the Kiwi version of Joe Root, Kane Williamson. Scores heavily at almost a run a ball without problem and can turn his arm when required too, a big star in the making.

South Africa – I’m going to avoid saying A.B. de Villiers and look elsewhere in this team. This team looks slightly different to other teams in that their strength lies in the depth of their bowling attack. Morne Morkel should make great use of the bounce and pace in a lot of the Australian pitches. If David Miller can contribute along with their established batsmen then South Africa should really be winning the event.

Sri Lanka – Herath. Desperately underrated, possibly as a result of some of the legendary names he has been surrounded by in the Sri Lankan team, but incredibly consistent and will be expected to help limit totals so the sometimes suspect Sri Lankan batting line up has some pressure on them reduced. One man familiar with pressure is Kumar Sangakkara, a true legend of the game set to bow out of international cricket soon, he is in great nick and will score the bulk of the runs for Sri Lanka up the order.

Pakistan – Goodness only knows, the usual stereotype applies, they could suddenly be great but it seems unlikely. The loss of Saeed Ajmal is probably fatal to any hope they had of getting it together. Younis Khan certainly has the experience to help them pull through and has been batting well recently but it looks tough for the Pakistan team.

West Indies – A bit of a mess at the moment all things said, poor showings on pitch, tours cancelled part way through thanks to disputes between players and the board. Despite this they actually have a talented squad but Captain Denish Ramdin has a tough task on his hands to blend them into a cohesive unit. Kemar Roach has the pace to cause batsmen trouble, between him and Ramdin they’ll need to back up Chris Gayle.

One other thing I realised was possible going through this was to name a Yorkshire 11 at this world cup:

Finch
Khan
Ballance
Root
Williamson
Singh
Bairstow (Alright I’m cheating here but none of the wicketkeepers were current or former Yorkshire players)
Miller
Maxwell
McKay
Starc

Last Saturday saw the UKU board meet for our annual January meeting. As per usual we ran it alongside the U14 and U17 indoor championships, allowing us to see the little terrors who in a few years time will be running the rest of the UK Ultimate community ragged.

One of the big themes we have been talking about as a board for a while is improving our communication with the Ultimate community, again this was repeatedly brought up at the meeting so in the spirit of gently pushing out some information about what we’re doing here is a blog post on it.

For anyone who has somehow missed it we are hosting world U23’s in July.
http://www.ukultimate.com/story/uku_host_2015_world_u23_ultimate_championships
If your interested in getting involved we are in the process of filling our lead volunteer roles at the moment so please get in touch if your interest in filling any of those roles or getting involved in any other voluntary capacity for the event, any help will be appreciated.

With the even now less than 6 months away both Benji and Si are at the point of having nightmares of what if it all goes wrong but actually we seem to be progressing relatively well with a couple of things we thought would be big issues not proving to be so. Entry has opened and teams have started registering which makes everything feel that bit closer, we expect 40 teams to enter by the time registration closes. We intend to use this event to show off ultimate to the great and good so board members will used as ambassadors for the event.

We’re expecting that in the near future we’ll be able to confirm a couple of other events that will again provide us with an opportunity to show off Ultimate in the UK so keep your ears peeled for announcements.

Following the update on U23’s we reviewed 2014 business plan highlighting various bits that had gone well such as:
– establishing the GB oversight committee (although we would still like to add another couple of people to it)
– getting the club affiliation scheme up and running, although we would like to get more clubs on it and are continuing to look for ways to make it a more accessible process
– we continue to have strong SOTG policies and are looking to stay at the forefront of SOTG globally. We will get an opportunity to learn more about game advisers as they will be present at U23’s and we will be involved in training game advisers for the event. As part of this we will give the people training as game advisers the opportunity to practice at some UKU events this year.
– successfully getting the university women’s division BUCS sanctioning.
– hiring new staff to support the set up of UKU, this has included hiring a bookkeeper, an events coordinator and a gb administrator. All three appointments have been very successful, freeing up Si’s time and improving the overall structure of UKU.
– starting up an annual development conference.

We had several other threads of conversation, looking at the proposed plan for 2015 and the way in which we operate as a board. One particularly interesting question was if we suddenly had a large influx of money how would we spend it. A range of ideas were suggested, things like purchasing a large UKU venue, hiring a development officer or a school coordinator, investing in high performance (such as GB training camps, S+C coaches, performance analysis etc).

So that is a brief overview of what was a really long but highly productive day.

Blah blah blah, not written for a while again, blah blah blah, reason/excuse blah blah blah, hopefully that’ll improve.

Finally got round to doing some work on some new club ‘starter packs’. Basically these should provide a (very simple) manual with ideas and instruction on how to go about starting a club at a new university and make it easier to do. So goes the idea anyway, it’s currently in first draft status so after some serious reviewing and improvements it should be a useful tool for us.

Have been frustrated to see a large amount of criticism directed towards UKU recently for a range of things. Whilst I understand people are passionate and want to see improvements, rather than getting in touch with us directly to air their frustrations they decide to complain in a public forum. It makes it seem as though people don’t really want improvements, just a place to have a good whine.This may not be the truth but it certainly creates that impression. My other grievance lies in the number of times we (people who are volunteering and helping UKU) are treated as though we are lazy, incompetent or just don’t care (all accusations I’ve had leveled at me). Relatively regularly one of those claims is made about me or the uni committee (or actually almost anyone working for UKU, whatever you think of the recent discussion regarding GB open that accusations that the selection process for that was in anyway attempting to trick people is ludicrous) and the usual outcome of people critising us is that we are proved correct. That claim isn’t made in an attempt to show off, merely a statement of fact. And it’s not particularly surprising, we discuss our decisions between myself, 3 division coordinators, 4 regionals coordinators, Si Hill, Benji Heywood and Chris White. That’s a lot of experience right there, and we’re discussing things with a full range of information available, not just from the perspective of one individual, hence usually correct.

That said I would love for more people to get back in touch with us to provide us with more feedback about how they feel we’re doing, what they’d like us to do and maybe even volunteer to get involved with UKU and show us how much better they can do!

Uni ultimate

Given my last post on the topic of uniultimate (which was literally a copy and paste of a message I sent out on BD/UU) received many times more hits than anything else I’ve written it seemed sensible to write a couple more pieces on University Ultimate, so here goes.

First up a reminder that Women’s Indoors university ultimate is becoming BUCS affiliated from next year onwards. This is a really positive development which should make it much easier for clubs to attain training times and funding from their AU’s for women’s ultimate. This should make it easier for clubs to retain and develop female players. The downside to this is that BUCS won’t sanction an open division alongside a women’s division, their reasoning for this is that each competitor should only be earning BUCS points in one division* for each competition^ for their institution. Consequently the downside to their being BUCS points available in the women’s division is that the indoors competition that was previously open has now become a men’s competition.

As a few people pointed out to me the information regarding regional changes had nothing about mixed in it. Hopefully those people will have seen the email that went out on uniultimate from our Mixed division coordinator Sarah Harrison outlining the plans for mixed for this year. Just in case anyone missed it’ll look like this. Indoors will follow the same structure as the men’s division, with 7 regional qualifiers followed by division 1 and 2 nationals. Outdoors we’re doing something a little different to the other divisions, instead of introducing regional qualifying events we’re embracing it being a huge event and going to use a swiss draw format, basically meaning you play someone with the same record as yourself and then we’ll split into brackets as usual (Pester Benji Heywood if you want a full explanation of how it works).

The exciting new thing we have announced (despite Edd Carmichael’s heckling) is the introduction of a beach tournament at the BUCS surf championships. Taking place in Newquay on the 17th-19th October we’re not currently sure exactly how the tournament will look, but the chance to go to the beach, play some ultimate, drink some beers and go to a huge party with everyone at the championships should be more than enough to make for a great event. I’m particularly looking forward to this one as I’ll be running it along with Ben Poole. Anyone interested in entering (doesn’t have to be a university team) e-mail me at brizzlekicks.events@gmail.com.

So that is the stuff we’ve already announced. Next time I’ll bang on about some things that you probably haven’t heard about that we’re intending to do.

Peace

Bamos

 

*Open, Mens, Mixed or Womens

^Indoors or Outdoors

As promised a piece detailing the changes to regions in university Ultimate next year. This is what I just sent out on Britdisc/Uniultimate

Introduction

The aim of the regional restructure is to ensure the best level of competition and make as many opportunities for as many people as possible to compete in our events. With the previous set up some regions had an extremely large number of entrants into events (particularly open indoors regionals). This led to issues have enough pitch time to accommodate that many teams and writing a good schedule. Looking forward it seems likely that university ultimate in the UK will continue to grow so to avoid the problem of overcrowding we have decided that a regional redraw was necessary.

Regional Structure

Working off the BUCS regions (http://www.bucs.org.uk/page.asp?section=15389&search=) we envisage having 7 small regions:

1. Scotland

2. North East and North West

3. Yorkshire and East Midlands

4. East and London

5. South East

6. West Midlands and Wales

7. South West

For the mens/open division next year we intend that there would be a qualifying event in each of these regions. Additionally to allow us to better manage the strength of these regions and run a smoother event we intend to make the indoor mens national event a 20 team event (a 4 team increase on previous years).

1 – Scotland + Northern Ireland 2  – North East + North West 3- Yorkshire and East Midlands 4- East and London 5 – South East 6-West Midlands and Wales
Aberdeen Newcastle Loughborough UEA Portsmouth Stoke
Dundee Northumbria Leicester Bedfordshire Chichester Keele
St Andrews Durham DMU Imperial Sussex Birmingham
Stirling Lancaster Sheffield Kings Surrey Wolverhampton
Glasgow Liverpool Sheffield Hallam UCL Kent Gloucestershire
Edinburough Manchester Lincoln LSE Holloway Swansea
Strathclyde Salford Nottingham Brunel Essex Cardiff
Heriot-Watt Chester Nottingham Trent UAL Reading Aberystwyth
    Hull Roehampton Brighton Bangor
    York Anglia ruskin Oxford Coventry
    Leeds Cambridge Oxford Brookes Warwick
    Leeds Met      
    Huddersfield      

 

 

7-South West
Bournemouth
Exeter
Plymouth
Falmouth
Bath
UWE
Southampton
Bristol
 
 
 
 

 

For the women’s division there are fewer teams entering the qualifying events so we intend to use 4 larger regions:

A. Scotland and Northern Ireland (Region 1 from above)

B. North (Regions 2 + 3 from above, so North East + North West + Yorkshire + East Midlands)

C. East (Regions 4 + 5 from above, so East + London + South East)

D. West (Regions 6 + 7 from above, so West Midlands + Wales + South West)

A – Scotland + Northern Ireland B  – North C- East D- West
Aberdeen Newcastle UEA Stoke
Dundee Northumbria Bedfordshire Keele
St Andrews Durham Imperial Birmingham
Stirling Lancaster Kings Wolverhampton
Glasgow Liverpool UCL Gloucestershire
Edinburough Manchester LSE Swansea
Strathclyde Salford Brunel Cardiff
Heriot-Watt Chester UAL Aberystwyth
  Loughborough Roehampton Bangor
  Leicester Anglia ruskin Coventry
  DMU Cambridge Warwick
  Sheffield Portsmouth Bournemouth
  Sheffield Hallam Chichester Exeter
  Lincoln Sussex Plymouth
  Nottingham Surrey Falmouth
  Nottingham Trent Kent Bath
  Hull Holloway UWE
  York Essex Southampton
  Leeds Reading Bristol
  Leeds Met Brighton  
  Huddersfield Oxford  
    Oxford Brookes  

 

Regional Strength

In the mens/open division each of the 7 regions will be guaranteed 2 qualifying spots to division 1 + 2 nationals. Additionally to that regions will be awarded spots based upon the performance of teams from that region at national events the previous year.

In the women’s division there will be 5 qualification spots available at each regional qualifying event for indoors. Note that womens indoors is now a BUCS event so subject to the same eligibility rules as the mens indoor and open outdoor nationals. Outdoors regionals are not a qualifying event but a seeding event for nationals and an opportunity for teams to practice playing together.

The University Ultimate committee may change the number of places awarded to each region, in fact we intend to review it at the end of every academic year to adapt to the changing strength of the various regions.

The tables of teams listed are not exhaustive and if your team is not listed feel free to get in touch. If you feel as though there is a strong case for your university being moved into another region then email outlining your reasons and a permanent transfer into that region will be considered. Please note that ‘we’ll have a better chance of qualifying in that region’ is not an acceptable reason.

 

Any further questions or queries please get in touch on uniultimate@gmail.com

 

 

 

Once again failed to actually make any huge progress in blogging regularly. Oh well, I’ll attempt to do some analysis whilst Wimbledon is on, and over the Football world cup. If your interested a friend of mine has done a fair bit of interesting work in the build up to it already on his website http://thegameisafoot.weebly.com/ . I’m also vaguely hoping I’ll get a chance to indulge an interest I’ve got in doing some analysis looking into work-rest ratios in Ultimate. All this will have to fight for my time and attention against my dissertation which is my main project over the coming summer.

To get me going with the blogging thing again I thought I’d talk a bit about my role with UKU. UKU is the body which organises Ultimate Frisbee in the UK, I am a member of the board of directors. My role is University coordinator, meaning I’m responsible for overseeing the delivery of the university ultimate competition program. Currently we’re at the end of the university season with nothing going on till the next academic year, unfortunately that doesn’t equate to me having time off!

Currently there are several things going on. As with most years there is a change in personal on the committee at the end of the season, this time 2 long standing (by our standards) members in Robbie Finch (Scottish RC) and Steph Abbott (Midlands RC) are leaving, and Hayley Summers (Mixed DC) is moving into a new communications  role on our committee. We have now found replacements for Robbie and Hayley in Hywel Matthews and Sarah Harrison respectively. Despite being sad to lose our old members getting new people on board, and with them a fresh burst of energy, enthusiasm and ideas is great. We have not been looking for a replacement for Steph as we have also been in the process of redrawing our regional boundaries. Our current set up has become a bit dated for the number of teams we now have in some areas so we felt it was time to look at how best to organise our regions going forward. The solution we have come up with will be in place for the next season (2014-2015) and consists of 4 ‘big’ regions which break down into 7 smaller regions, we felt 4 regional coordinators was a better set up for our committee so we did not need to find a replacement for Steph. (In the next week I’ll post another blog explaining the regional structure for Uniultimate going forward).

Apart from that we’re also working on getting involved and running a tournament at the BUCS Surf Championships in Newquay. At the moment thinking I’ll probably head down there and run it myself. Although early in the season (but late enough in the year for crap weather to be a real threat) it should be a good event with a huge party, plenty of beers and great atmosphere. There are other duller things going on, I’m also sat on the competitions committee meaning I’m involved in all the conversations that go on about schedules, seeding and tournament formats that go on. I know some people think we just ippy dippy for how these things are run but there is a serious amount of discussion and hard work put in by all the volunteers working for UKU.

As I said I’ll post later this week about the change in regional structure and also a couple of other changes (much smaller) that will happen next year.

Peace

Bamos

Getting going again

So I’ve not really managed to keep this going particularly well in the last few months. It has been lower on the priority list than my degree, my work with the EIS, my board role with UKU, maintaining my relationship, eating sleeping and breathing!

I am now hopeful that I have a bit more time so I’m going to try and put some effort into getting some more interesting posts up here. They will probably be a blend on my uni work I’m doing (because some of it is actually dead interesting!), and some recreational analysis when I get the chance. I’ll also be looking to add a bit of pondering on my thoughts on Ultimate frisbee, a sport I play a lot of and am on the board of UK ultimate.

Hopefully It’ll interest some people. Enjoy.

Peace.

Value of Wickets

In the current Ashes series Ian Bell has all but dispelled the claim oft levelled at him in previous years that he only scores ‘easy runs’. For anyone who follows cricket they know there is no such thing as easy runs in test match cricket, however its not unfair to say that runs in some scenarios are more valuable to the team than others. Each of Bell’s three centuries in this series so far have come with England in real dire need (interestingly he seems certain to be named man of the series but could well not win a single man of the match award, I’ll be texting into TMS to see if that’s ever happened in a 5 match series before).

Anyway this lead me to think that while the value of runs is often talked about, very rarely is the value of the wickets taken by bowlers talked about, only really the average, strike rate and number of wickets taken. So I thought I’d take a look into the England bowlers and see who tended to pick up the most valuable wickets. Going into this I believed that  Stuart Broad, often talked about as a bowler who has destructive spells rather than consistently bowling well, would struggle as my impression of him is someone who often knocks over the tail of a side. Opposed to that I believed that James Anderson and Swanny would do well, with Anderson always opening the bowling and both of them usually the go to men when a big partnership is building (assuming the most big partnerships will be made by the better batsmen).

To investigate this I went on espncricinfo and took note of all the wickets taken by Englands various bowlers in the time period between the current ashes series and the previous Ashes series in England in test match cricket. Then the international career average of the players is taken and used to construct an ‘average average number of runs made by batsmen dismissed by bowler x’. Here we shall call this the average value of wicket taken/ What this actually means is that if a bowler has taken 5 wickets, and the players he took them against had career averages of 10,20,30,40,50 then his ‘average value of wicket taken’ is 30, as that is the average number of runs the batsmen he has dismissed would score on average.

This led to the following spreadsheet:

Bowling dismisal worth

In Sheet one is the full set of data. Here  the players are listed in order of who took the most wickets:

James Anderson

Graeme Swann

Stuart Broad

Steve Finn

Tim Bresnan

Monty Panesar

Chris Tremlett

And here listed in order of who, on average, took the most valuable wickets:

Tremlett

Anderson

Bresnan

Panesar

Swann

Finn

Broad

This list is rather different to who is taking the most wickets, although James Anderson shows his worth taking lots of valuable wickets. Unfortunately this seems an unfair system to me, as it overly penalises bowlers for dismissing a number 11 with a low average. While clearly not as valuable as dismissing an oppositions best batsmen it is still a contribution to the team. So to refine the analysis I adapted the data by entering the number of dismissals of batsmen with an average less than 25, effectively ignoring these wickets. The adapted spreadsheet is on sheet two of the above excel file.

This gives us two measures with which to judge the worth of the wickets a bowler tends to take. The average value of wickets taken which ranks Englands bowlers thus:

Bresnan

Tremlett

Swan

Anderson

Panesar

Broad

Finn

And by percentage of wickets taken against batsmen with an average above 25:

Tremlett

Panesar

Anderson

Bresnan

Finn

Swann

Broad

Throughout all these measures both Stuart Broad and Steven Finn fare in the bottom 3. This supports my initial hypothesis about Stuart Broad. It also suggests that Steven Finn, who has been described as someone who ‘has a knack of getting wickets without bowling well’ may be doing just that, again making the assumption that players who have a lower average are more likely to throw their own wicket away.

It’s interesting to see Chris Tremlett topping the statistics, a bowler who I feel is seriously underrated anyway now also appears to be getting important wickets, a valuable asset for a bowler. It’s late now and I may revisit this soon but for now a final thought, these lists show how easy it is to manipulate statistics to show anything you want, depending on which measure I used I could easily have claimed Anderson, Tremlett or Bresnan are our best bowler.

Peace. Bamos

It occured to me I could formalise the claim I made in the first version of this post that the big hitters in the England ODI team have a better average when chasing and the guys who are accumulators have a better average setting by cross referencing all of their averages with their strike rate in ODI’s for England. Attached is a graph showing the change in average when setting Vs the international strike rate of that player with a trend line plotted on it in blue.

 

.Setting Vs Chasing Plot

 

The trend line very clearly demonstrates the relationship between strike rate and whether that player has a better average setting or chasing. This information is noteworthy for captains when deciding to bat first or second, if either their team or their opponents team are loaded with players who prefer batting first or second then that should be added to a captain consideration. For selectors they should probably be looking to  have a balance of players who score more heavily batting first and players who score more when batting second, although clearly if a player averages over 50 in both but scores much better when setting then they are still likely to make a good selection if the team bats second. Lastly this information is useful for coaches trying to get inside a players head to work out what helps him/her perform.

Think I’m done with this for a bit. All data was sourced from espncricinfo.com.

Peace. Bamos.

Ultimate

I have played many sports semi seriously, but only two have I truly committed to tennis and ultimate. I began playing tennis in junior school when a coach from a local club came into school to run some PE lessons. I continued to play at a variety of levels (juniors, mixed, private and group coaching etc) until reaching university. At this point I trialled for the university team, unfortunately I didn’t make the teams (well below the required level) and the tennis society wasn’t particularly welcoming to members not on the teams, consequently I all but stopped playing tennis by the end of first year and was playing very little sport.

I was fortunate that in my first year I became close friends with a boy called Nathan Trickey. He had played ultimate before uni, had joined the society when he came to uni and competed with them throughout first year. At the beginning of second year he convinced me to join the uni society, from that point ultimate filled the sporting void that had been left when I stopped playing tennis. I trained religiously never missing a session, usually 3 times a week in my first year of ultimate rising to 4 plus a tournament or training camp at the weekend in subsequent years.

I feel as though I ought to explain for anyone who doesn’t play ultimate what it is. Ultimate or ultimate frisbee (as it’s more commonly known) is a self officiated non-contact sport. It is played on a variety of surfaces with the rules changing slightly depending on the surface. The most common is outdoors (grass or 3g) where each team is allowed 7 players on the pitch for each point (between each point each team can make as many substitutions as they wish). The pitch is devided into three sections, the endzones at either end of the pitch and the remaining area between them. are each teams endzone, the point begins with each team stood in their own endzone. The aim is to pass the disc between their players until one of them catches it in the oppositions endzone, which is a score for that team, if any pass is intercepted or hits the floor then possession of the disc switches to the other team.

Right think that has explained how I got into ultimate and the basics of the sport.

Peace.