Monday, 13 July 2015

Shane Watson: LBW magnet, DRS fiend

For my first quick look at the facts behind cricket's stories, I'm going a little bit topical. 

Amongst the fallout of England's surprise victory in the first Ashes test, has been an awful lot of giggling at poor old Shane Watson, his propensity for LBWs and his poor use of the decision review system. Even as he walked to the wicket in the second innings it seemed everyone knew how he would be out and, of course, that he would review it. And so it came to pass.

It occurred to me to wonder if Watto really deserves his reputation as LBW magnet, DRS fiend. Is he really out LBW so very much? And is his use of DRS really so outrageously bad compared to others?

As you can see from the first column in the table, the answer to the first question is a resounding yes. He's gets out LBW an awful lot compared to his teammates in Australia's top seven (Adam Voges isn't included because he's yet to be out LBW in his fledgling test career). Shane Watson has been dismissed in this way a whopping 29 times in his test career- 27% of all his dismissals in tests. A more typical proportion of LBW dismissals seems to be just above 10%, so Shane's 27% really is loads.

No surprises there then. Opposition bowlers aren't idiots, they've been bowling to pin him LBW for a reason and it's been working.

The second column of the table shows for each player how many of their LBWs they could in principal have reviewed, by which I mean that

1)  the dismissal occurred in a match where DRS available to review LBW decisions
2)  Australia had some reviews left at the time
3)  the dismissal wasn't the result of the opposition reviewing a not out decision.

The third column shows how many they actually reviewed and the fourth shows how many they reviewed as a percentage of the 'reviewable' dismissals.

What we see is that while Shane does like a review, his proportion of LBWs that were failed reviews isn't wildly out of kilter with other batsmen in his team. Indeed he's relatively more frugal with reviews than either Michael Clarke or Brad Haddin- who has reviewed every one of his eventual LBWs where he had the option.

In fairness to Haddin, he may reasonably argue that he bats in the last recognised batsman's position at 7 and so he might as well use a review if there's one left to be used. On the other hand, Watson could have made exactly the same argument on Saturday, but it didn't stop everyone finding it very funny.

So, it seems Watson definitely deserves his LBW candidate reputation and that has probably fed in to the DRS fiend narrative- he reviews a lot of LBW decisions because he has a lot of opportunity to! Nevertheless, even if he is a bit trigger happy with the review, he's not the only baggy green to be that way.

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