Thursday, 1 January 2009

Hayden or Hughes?

Shades of Pommydom - some Ocker journos are in a tizzy over the selectors. Did Cricket Australia do the right thing keeping Hayden in the side?

This is an interesting point, because as we saw earlier, Hayden's recent run of poor form is very recent. I'd be wary of replacing him, especially as the leading candidate, Phil Hughes, is 20, and with but a single full season of first-class competition to his credit.

How does he project? Fortunately, as a sabermetric method known as minor league equivalencies can show, the Australian domestic league is pretty much Test standard when it comes to batting, so his domestic statistics are probably a fine indication of just how good he might be. Unfortunately, he has only got that one full season, so he gets regressed to the Test mean pretty heavily. So I got out the spreadsheet and went to work.

Hughes' projected average? 32.

Hayden's projected average (taking into account Tests since the celebrated Ashes tour of 05/06)? 32.

It's a dead heat, based on projected performance for the Sydney Test, which is likely to do better. That said, I prefer to see selectors use a squad strategy rather than a 'Best XI' one. This Test won't count toward the series, so you're left with the option between watching if Hayden can reverse his run of poor form to see if he is a good bet for South Africa, or trying someone different, to see how Hughes takes the pressure. Since I'd probably want to have Hayden in the touring squad anyway, because I don't believe he's done yet, I'd have gone with Hughes to see if I thought he was ready to go on tour, in case Hayden is toast. Those journos are talking sense for a change.

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