Tim Bresnan: The Real Answer to England’s Opening Batting Conundrum?

Test Match Sofa - The Cricketer

When speaking to the guys at Test Match Sofa after the 2nd Investec Ashes Test, we discussed the fragility of Australia’s top order and considered how opening batsman Shane Watson, had taken the brunt of the blame for this from the Aussie media and fans.

It was the opinion of Test Match Sofa anchor, Daniel Norcross, Australia’s other opening bat, Phillip Hughes, had gotten off rather lightly in comparison to Watson and suspected that the vulnerability of Australia’s batting attack was being disproportionality blamed on Watson.

To address this, we did some player analysis on Shane Watson and Phil Hughes’ Test Match batting performances, to see how the two compare and to make it a fair test, we only sampled innings in which both players batted, so as to compare their performance against the same bowlers.

What we found was that Shane Watson trumps Hughes in every batting statistic. Not only does he outperform Hughes in terms of total runs (861 vs 724), batting average (28.70 vs 24.97) and strike rate (52.73 vs 48.53), but Watson also offers better bowling statistics than Tim Bresnan.

Watson v Hughes (flat)Having established that Watson has been slightly more effective for Australia than Hughes with the bat (during the games in which they both played), we decided to examine Watson’s stats with the ball and compare them with those of England’s 3rd seamer, Tim Bresnan in both players last 18 innings.

What we found was that Bresnan trumps Watson with the ball in terms on Average (33.77 vs 35.15) and Strike Rate (66.7 vs 86.1), whilst Watson’s Econ Rate of 2.45 is considerably lower than Bresnan’s 3.04.

Watson v Bresnan (Bowling)

Considering how similar Watson and Bresnan’s bowling stats are in their last 18 innings, we wondered how Bresnan’s batting stats would stack up against Watson’s. Comparing Bresnan and Watson’s batting stats in their previous 18 innings, we were surprised to find that whilst both players high score and strike rate are very similar, Bresnan’s average of 31.60 is significantly higher than Watson’s 24.61.

Watson v Bresnan (Batting)

In the last 18 innings both players have played, the only statistic in which Watson outperforms Bresnan, is economy rate (2.45 vs 3.04) but this can be attributed to his role in the side as 4th seamer, usually required to dry up the runs.

The conclusion we have reached is that Australia are batting a slightly inferior Tim Bresnan at the top of their order, whilst England conversely, are playing a slightly improved Australian Opener at number 8. Perhaps this indicates a fundamentally different approach to selection in the two camps, with Australia choosing to play a 5 man bowling attack, using Watson as their all rounder. Conversely, England stick rigidly to 6 specialist batsman whilst having a player of Bresnan’s quality coming in at 8. Were they to use Bresnan like Watson, they would be able to play an extra seamer (Tremlett) or spinner (Panesar), depending on the conditions.


All the data visualisation in this article was generated using new Cricket Stats app My Cricket AverageMy Cricket Average is an iPhone app which enables all cricketers to record, analyse and predict their cricket statistics. As this article illustrates, the app has also been purpose built for cricket enthusiasts to record and analyse the performances of other players (family members, team mates, professionals).

My Cricket Average is FREE to DOWNLOAD and is available on the App Store here.

My Cricket Average – Professional statistical analysis of your/other players cricket performances on your smartphone.


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