“The Houghton Effect” and Somerset’s Batting in 2014

Houghts
Credit: Alexander Davidson

This week Somerset CCC announced that Dave Houghton would be leaving his post as Batting Coach just before Christmas after just one season at Taunton. This decision made because incoming Director of Cricket, Matt Maynard, is a proven Batting Coach and wants to adopt a hands-on role in his new position.

It would appear with a naked eye that Houghton’s coaching has been very fruitful with Somerset appearing to bat with more resilience in 2014 than 2013.

Regular contributor to The Incider Dan Kingdom thought he would sift through the figures to analyse what exactly was ‘The Houghton Effect.’

I’ve done a few calculations to work out how Dave Houghton improved Somerset’s batting in the 2014 season. This applies only to Championship cricket. Batting was a problem at times in limited-overs cricket but that was mainly down to the loss of Jos Buttler. If he had stayed I think we would have qualified in at least one of the limited-overs competitions.

Houghton’s main job was to increase our batters’ resilience in the Championship. In 2013 Somerset scored 400+ 4 times and didn’t score 500 or more once. Compare that to 2014, where Somerset scored 400 or more 8 times, and there were 2 totals of 500+. Somerset’s average 1st innings score was 271 in 2013. 2014’s was 357 – a substantial increase of 86. This may be partly down to some flat pitches at Taunton this season, but such a large increase has to be down to the batters’ individual skill also.

Furthermore, in 2013 Somerset only managed 4 1st innings leads. In 2014 that number was 10 – more than half the matches. The fact that only 4 of these were converted to victories shows that often the bowlers were a problem in being unable to bowl teams out.

A couple of final stats: in 2013, Somerset’s first 5 wickets scored, on average, 176 in the 1st innings. In 2014, that number was 209 (an increase of 33). This is saying that, on average, Somerset had 209 after 5 wickets had fallen – not great. But the lower order were often able to recover the innings: on average, the final 5 wickets put on 148, compared to just 101 in 2013 – an increase of 47.

In conclusion, I think Dave Houghton will be a big loss to Somerset. The team’s position in the table may have been the same in 2013 and 2014 – 6th – but the points tally increased by 52 from 146 to 198. Moreover, Somerset lost 5 games in 2013, compared to only 2 in 2014. The number of wins only increased by 1 (from 3 to 4), but the number of draws – 10 – shows that the batting is much, much better than it was in 2013. In several matches Somerset got into good positions but couldn’t finish teams off. If the batting continues in the same vein as 2014 next season, and bowlers like Lewis Gregory and the Overtons play to their potential, hopefully Somerset will be challenging for the title. But it remains to be seen whether Matt Maynard can continue Houghton’s good work.

Batting 2014 – Steve Jennings looks at the facts & figures from each format.

LV=CC

Nick Compton topped Somerset’s averages in 2014 with 43.7 which was the 27th best average in the tournament. He struck 2 centuries and 5 fifties in his haul of 931 runs, the 13th highest return in the country.

Somerset’s highest run scorer was skipper Marcus Trescothick who hit 1,049 runs which was the 9th highest haul in the County Championship this year. It was good to see the big man back inform and he whacked 4 centuries and 5 fifties in the season.

His average of 42.0 was the 33rd best nationally and the 3rd best in the club if you allow Alex Barrow to sneak ahead of him having batted only 7 times for his 218 runs at 43.6.

Other centurions were Alviro Petersen (605 runs at 40.3, 5th in the averages), Peter Trego (644 runs at 33.9, 7th in the averages) and James Hildreth (763 runs at 33.2, 8th in the averages).

Special mention to Tom Abell who managed to score 292 in just 7 innings at 41.7, the 34th best average in the LV=CC.

~Batting LVCC

T20

Craig Kieswetter was Somerset’s star man with the bat in the 20-over format in 2014 despite missing a large part of the season through injury. He hit 6 fifties in his 497 runs in 10 innings – the 8th biggest haul in the country – and topped the averages at 49.7, this being the 9th best average score in the NatWest T20 Blast.

There were no centurions in 2014 but Petersen (225 runs at 37.5, 28th overall), Trego (344 runs at 31.3 and 47th overall), Hildreth (247 runs at 30.9, 49th overall) and Compton (136 runs at 27.2, 69th overall) all hit 50’s.

~Batting t20

RLODC

There were four centuries scored in the 50-over tournament, 2 from the same man as Peter Trego hit back-to-back hundreds at Lords and Edgbaston. He finished the season 5th in averages at 39.3 (54th in the country) with a run haul of 314, the 23rd best overall.

There were two centurions in the same game in that memorable opening game against Durham where James Hildreth and Lewis Gregory hit 209 to lead Somerset to victory. Hildreth finished 2nd in the table with 304 at 76.0 (the 12th best average of 2014) and Gregory with 206 at 41.2.

Four players hit 50’s – Ingram (3), Trescothick (2), Compton (2) and Barrow (1).

And the man who topped the averages? Well that was Alfonso Thomas of course, whose 87 runs came at an average of 87 in with 3 unbeaten knocks in 4 innings. In my day we called that playing for your average!!

~Batting RLODC