2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Group A

The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, to be played in England and Wales, starts this Thursday with the opening game between hosts England and Bangladesh at The Oval in London.

In this first post I take a look at the possible milestones to be reached by players from the four teams in Group A – Australia, Bangladesh, England and New Zealand.

Each team can play a maximum of five games in this tournament – three in the group stages, a semi-final and the final – so I have considered possible milestones that may be reached in that time-frame, barring a freak run of double centuries or ten-wicket hauls. Anything is possible of course, but I’m trying to be as realistic as possible!

For a preview of Group B, have a look over here.

Australia

The Aussies are perennial winners of ICC 50-over tournaments, and again enter this one as one of the favourites. Currently ranked second in the world in ODIs, they are the only team to have won more than one Champions Trophy outright, lifting the silverware in 2006 and 2009. Watch out for the following as the tournament unfolds:

Steven Smith

If Australia reach the final, and their captain plays in every game, Steve Smith will bring up 100 ODI appearances for the boys in yellow, currently having 95 to his name.

David Warner

One of the possible stars of the tournament needs just 54 runs to bring up 4000 career ODI runs. Barring injury, it’s hard to see this milestone not being added to the record books.

Glenn Maxwell

Mercurial all-rounder, and self-styled “Big Show”, needs 43 runs to clock up 2000 for his country in ODIs.

Mitchell Starc

The Australians’ main strike bowler is 13 wickets shy of matching Jason Gillespie’s 142 for his country, enough to move him up to joint tenth place in the list of Australia’s all-time ODI wicket takers. 14 Starc wickets in the tournament will relegate poor Dizzy to eleventh.

Matthew Wade

Although playing as wicketkeeper gives him something of an unfair advantage over the man he might replace, the Aussie gloveman needs just two catches to move to 105 career catches and match the record of Mike Hussey, who currently holds down tenth spot in all-time ODI catches for his country.

Bangladesh

The Tigers enter the tournament ranked joint sixth in the world and qualify for their first Champions Trophy since 2006. These are the players to keep an eye on stats-wise over the next two weeks:

Mashrafe Mortaza

The Bangladesh ODI captain has currently played 175 ODIs for his country, enough to put him second on the list of all-time highest appearances for the Tigers. He needs just two more games to equal Mohammad Ashruful (177) at the top of the tree, and if he plays in all three groups games he will move clear at the top.

Shakib Al Hasan

The man tipped to replace Mashrafe as captain once he retires at the end of the tournament is currently two games behind his skipper with 173 appearances. He will need the Tigers to get to the semis to equal Ahsraful’s 177, and to the final to surpass him and move into second place outright (assuming Mashrafe plays in all the games Shakib does)

Shakib is also 185 runs shy of reaching 5000 ODI runs for Bangladesh, currently tallying 4815 runs from his 173 appearances.

Imrul Kayes

The opening batsman needs 127 runs to reach 2000 ODI runs for Bangladesh.

Soumya Sarkar

Soumya currently sits on 925 ODI runs, needing just 75 to notch up his first 1000 runs.

Rubel Hossain

The quick bowler needs 9 scalps to bring up a century of wicket for Bangladesh in ODIs, having taken 91 victims in his career to date.

England

The host nation have an unenviable and well-known record of having never won a 50-over ICC tournament, despite making it to no less than five finals, including the last Champions Trophy in 2013 where they lost to India. This time, they are in-form, at home, and enter the tournament as the bookies’ favourites. What can possibly go wrong?! These are the players to monitor:

Eoin Morgan

England’s white-ball captain Morgan is approaching a few milestones in this tournament. The following all relate to his record for England alone, noting that he did make 23 ODI appearances for his native Ireland before switching allegiance to England.

Morgan has made 157 ODI appearances in England colours, needing two more to equal Darren Gough (currently in fifth place in England’s all time appearance list on 159) and four to match Ian Bell’s 161 in fourth place. If England make the final, then Eoin will claim fourth place all for himself, assuming he plays in every game.

Eoin also needs 180 runs to bring up his 5000 for England in ODIs, and currently sits on 10 centuries for England. He needs two more centuries to match Marcus Trescothick’s 12 at the top of England’s rankings.

 

Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali

Two of England’s crucial allrounders both need 3 wickets to tally 50 ODI victims for their country, currently sitting together on 47 wickets.

Chris Woakes

Another all-rounder, Woakes needs 11 wickets to mark 100 for England

New Zealand

The final team in Group A (alphabetically speaking) are New Zealand. The Blackcaps won this trophy (then known as the ICC Knockout Trophy) in Kenya in 2000, and of course dazzled the world on their way to the 2015 World Cup Final before meekly losing in the final against Australia. A strong Group A will be difficult to escape from, but the Blackcaps are capable of beating anyone on their day, so cannot be ruled out completely.

The NZ players with upcoming personal milestones are as follows:

Kane Williamson

The skipper currently has 4362 ODI runs to his name, sitting in eleventh spot for NZ. He needs just 17 runs to match the wonderfully named Chris Zinzan Harris on 4379 and move into the top ten, and 121 runs to equal Scott Styris in ninth place.

Ross Taylor

A long-time key batsman for the Blackcaps, LPRU Taylor needs just two more appearances to overtake Styris’ 188 and move himself into eighth place for NZ.

Tim Southee

The Blackcaps’ quick bowler current has 155 ODI wickets, needing four more to overtake New Zealand’s finest ever fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee for sixth place in the all time list for their country.

Neil Broom

Recently recalled after a long absence, Broom needs 126 runs to mark up 1000 in the format for New Zealand.

Trent Boult

The fast bowler needs 13 wickets to move to 100 in ODI uniform for the Blackcaps.

Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner

Another player to find himself back in the national side after a long absence, Jeetan Patel needs just one more wicket to mark 50 for his country. Fellow slow bowler Mitchell Santner needs seven scalps to bring up the same milestone, currently sitting having 43 to his name.

Luke Ronchi

And last but not least, with 97 grabs already in the record book, keeper-batsman Ronchi needs just three more catches to reach 100 for his second international country, having previously played a handful of ODIs for Australia.

The Opening Statsman takes guard for the first delivery

Hello, and welcome to my new site, which I hope you will find entertaining and informative!

First up, let’s address the elephant in the room – yes, this is another cricket statistics website, and yes I’m aware there are bigger and more comprehensive ones out there that are much more well-known and beloved of most cricket fans. I know that because I love those sites too, and that’s kind of why we’re here!

I have been a fan of international cricket since I was a child. I don’t come from a cricket-playing or cricket-loving family, and none of my friends growing up either played or were even slightly interested in the sport, but I fell in love with it through the medium of BBC Televisions’s Test match broadcasts in the long and usually wet school summer holidays of the mid-Eighties, when I’d sit mesmerised by the scenes being piped in from Trent Bridge, Edgbaston or Lord’s to our huge valve-powered colour TV.

It will come as no surprise that as a future accountant, one of the things that fascinated me the most about watching the cricket back then was the scorecards, graphs and charts that would pop up during the day’s coverage.  Now, I appreciate as much as the next man a good drive though the covers,  a shoulder-high bouncer, or a stunning one handed grab at second slip,  but I also loved seeing those yellow numbers superimposed over the action, ever so slowly changing at the end of every over throughout the day’s play. My first knowledge of the statistical concept of an average was taught to me not by my teacher at school, but by the wonderful Tony Lewis discussing Bob Willis’s bowling figures!

As I’ve grown up, so has the depth of statistical knowledge and information available. Television now has all manner of sophisticated charts to display in real time, radio commentators cut to regular stats based insights from scorers such as Andrew Sampson or Andy Zaltsman, and of course specialist websites such as the unbeatable ESPNCricinfo’s Statsguru database grant us access to practically anything we could wish to find out if only we’re willing to spend the time framing the question correctly.

To some fans, stats are just a by-product of the sport not to be much bothered with, but to others such as myself they are integral to our enjoyment. As I watch or listen to a game, I will also sit refreshing the live scorecard on my computer waiting to see if a player has clocked-up a significant milestone, or moved into the top ten for his country or even the world for a particular statistical category. Country records fascinate me, world records more so. In a sport with such a great history, seeing a modern-day player emulate or overtake a great of the game’s past achievement brings me tremendous pleasure, whoever they play for.

Because of my fascination with stats, and partly as a hobby project to keep my computer skills sharpened through a period of unemployment a few years ago, I managed to build from scratch (with the assistance of my software developer wife) my own basic database of historical statistics, focusing largely on international players rather than the teams they play for. I loaded up every male Test, ODI and T20I player to ever play international cricket into my database with a basic summary of their key batting, bowling and fielding stats, which I now update after each international match to keep current.

At some stage, after more fine-tuning and web design to make it look shiny, I may publish that database for others to see, but in the meantime what I noticed through playing with my data was that by filtering and sorting after each update, I could spot upcoming statistical milestones in players’ careers, or whether they were coming close to overtaking historical players in one area of the game or another. For instance, ahead of yesterday’s third ODI between England and South Africa, I knew that Hashim Amla only needed 23 more runs to pass 7000 ODI runs, and only 13 runs to overtake Graeme Smith as South Africa’s fourth highest ODI runs scorer of all time (he duly achieved both!). Knowing these potential milestones ahead of time enhances my enjoyment of watching a game – not only do I get to enjoy the game itself, but I get to keep an eye on a particular players’ achievements within it and to silently urge them on to pass that marker, whether or not the player is even aware that he is approaching it!

So, I thought to myself if I enjoy keeping an eye out for these things, then surely some other cricket fans would too – so here we are!

Ahead of each match or series, I will aim to publish a brief update as to what player stats and milestones to keep an eye on in the game. For Test matches, I will do this ahead of each individual match, however for bilateral ODI and T20I series, I will post as a minimum ahead of each series (just to manage workload – I now have a proper job which eats into my stats time!) and more often if possible. For major tournaments, starting with this week’s Champions Trophy, I will conduct reviews for each team participating and post a collective summary ahead of the tournament. I will include stats for those countries that have official International Cricket Council status for the particular form of the game – Test, One Day International or T20 International.

I will also publish a summary after each Test Match or ODI/T20I series/tournament highlighting which players reached their milestones as anticipated, and which will have to wait that little while longer.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I intend to enjoying writing it!