Hawk Eye on England v Australia Second T20: Batting pair under the radar

Steve Smith
Smith is the finisher Australia need

Ed Hawkins extols the virtues of Glenn Maxwell and Dawid Malan ahead of game two on Sunday from Southampton...

"If Australia need a finisher – and they desperately do – they could do worse than Smith himself. His eye is second to none and he can hit it from ball one"

Australia's dumb data approach

Never before has cricket been more enthral to data and statistics. And this for a sport which practically invented the buck-toothed anorak, sitting by the boundary rope with a pencil case crammed with the kaleidoscopic scribblers, charting everything that moved and anything that didn't.

And so it is a surprise - and not an unpleasant one because it would be deathly dull if players were picked by algorithm - that coaches and selectors make decisions which would have these sorts biting the end off their HB and spitting it out in disgust. Batting Marcus Stoinis in the finishing role is one of those, a decision which cost Australia the game.

Anyone who has followed Big Bash cricket in the last few years - and Stoinis's career - should know that he is best served in the opening berth because he needs time to accelerate. In other words, he needs to get his eye in. He can't blast from ball one. A fact lost on Australia's powers-that-be who, clearly, haven't been following Big Bash all that closely.

England can snigger all they like. They batted Tom Banton at No 4. A sort of no-man's-land. Banton is a fantastic opener. He is not a finisher. Or an accelerator in the middle overs against spin. But England felt bad about dropping him after he did well against Pakistan so shoved him somewhere irrelevant.

The use of data is extremely important in betting. If you embrace it, you find an edge because there are some who chalk up the prices still on reputation than record. Here's an example. Take these two win rates - 11.2% and 12.5%. Not much between them, right?

They belong to Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith for career top runscorer wins. 'So what' you say? Well, Maxwell's win rate is for top runscorer in the entire match. Smith's is just for the Australia innings. And yet Smith gets a 7/2 quote for top Aussie and 15/2 for top match runscorer. Maxwell is 5/1 and 12/1 respectively. Only one of these is value on both markets and it's not Smith.

If Australia need a finisher - and they desperately do - they could do worse than Smith himself. His eye is second to none and he can hit it from ball one. This would free Maxwell to be at his most dangerous in the No 3 slot and, guess what, take an enormous pressure load away from a panicky middle-order. Alas for Stoinis it means he doesn't get in the team.

Australia last two years top bat wins/matches
Warner 5/14
Stoinis 0/14
Maxwell 8/24
Finch 4/27
Carey 1/21
M Marsh t/4
Smith 5/40 (career)

Marvellous Malan

Dawid Malan is England's most reliable T20 batsman. He has top scored more often than anyone in the last two years while retaining a superb strike rate of 149.

And yet his place remains under threat. Before the first match Malan was considered to be in a duel for his spot with Tom Banton. For the love of God, why? Malan is a specialist No 3 and is possibly one of the best in the world. Yet England find it hard to accept. Play him.

He is 4/1 for another win. It's value, although we have a rule here that we don't like to follow the money and go for back-to-back success. We will stick with Jos Buttler who looked in terrific touch. He will open but to stay with the theme, there is a bunch of evidence that suggests he would be better finishing.

England last two years top bat wins/matches
Bairstow 3/17
Buttler 3/12
Morgan 3/21
Malan 5/11
Ali 1/7
Billings 1/13

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