Are bowler averages really a good guide to ability?

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Are bowler averages a good guide to a bowler's capability or can they be misleading?

I am grateful to Alan Hobson of Thorpe Green for bringing this topic to our attention to which he adds his own opinion. Do you agree with Alan or not?

Many bowlers seem very concerned with averages and use the figure as a guide to their own ability and the ability of their opponents. I find this to be very odd. Averages are typically calculated by taking the difference between points scored and points conceded and dividing that number by the number of games played.

Let us consider a hypothetical situation where there are two bowlers A and B. Bowler A wins his/her first nine matches 21-20. This gives him/her an average of +1.

Bowler B loses his/her first 9 matches 20-21.

This gives him/her an average of -1.

In his/her tenth match Bowler A loses 2-21.

This now gives him/her an average of -1.

Bowler B wins his/her match 21-2.

This now gives him/her an average of +1.

So, after ten matches Bowler A has an average of -1 and Bowler B has an average of +1. Which bowler is the better bowler? If we look just at the average it is Bowler B. I am not convinced by this.

I would suggest that a much better way of looking at this would be to look at the percentage of games played that each bowler has won. Bowler A has won 90% (nine out of ten) of the matches he/she has played whereas Bowler B has won 10% (one out of ten) of the matches he/she has played. Give me Bowler A rather than Bowler B in my team. I just do not see what useful information the present system of bowler averages is giving anyone and think a win percentage figure would be much more useful.

Alan Hobson, Thorpe Green

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