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Hunting the Bunnies

We all know that some batsmen are more skilled than others, but they all count the same in the bowlers’ wicket tallies. So, can the ability level of the batsman be taken into account when considering how well bowlers have performed over the course of a season? This became a point of contention within my club a few years ago, leading to my creation of “The Bunny Coefficient” and an intense annual competition to avoid receiving the dubious accolade of “Bunny Killer summa cum laude”. Let me explain…

An eternal verity of club cricket is that bowling captains can elect to bring themselves on against the lower order (I call them Matador Captains, as a good performance by a Matador is recognized by the award of both ears and the tail…). Of course no captain will ever admit to doing this (“it was a tactical decision for ####’s sake, we needed to wrap the innings up quickly”). But lets just say that one such skipper, a dear buddy and fellow slow bowler, tended to salivate to the point of drooling when presented with the appearance at the crease of a one-armed old codger, a young lad only recently grown beyond the size of a fetus, or an Italian debutant holding his bat upside down. Whereas the rest of us would take on massive young guys who enjoyed peppering the trees with pretty much whatever we tossed down (the legendary and much loathed ‘Big Tonkas’).

One evening in the local bar after a hot afternoon spent craning our necks to gaze into the far distance and seek the plummeting red orb that had only recently left our hands, a few members of the slow-bowling fraternity had a little chat, leading to claims and counterclaims. To prove my point, I decided to consult the scorebook later that night (what else does one do at my age on a Saturday night?). I made the reasonable assumption that, more often than not, the better batsmen came in early, the ones with lapidic tendencies down the order. Sure, some sides mess around with the batting order now and then, but on average I figured I was on reasonable grounds. I then simply awarded points according to where each batsman appeared in the batting order: An opener is worth 1 or 2 and so on down to where a tail-ender counts for 9, 10 or 11. I then totalled up each bowler’s victims, divided by the number of wickets taken, and came up with his “Bunny Coefficient” – the higher the number, the greater the tendency to destroy fluffy, big-eared entities.

Was I right? You betcha… My esteemed friend was scoring in the 6 to 7 range, while his fellow slow bowlers had Bunny Coefficients around 5. And as the same tendencies were apparent on retroactive calculations for previous seasons, there was plenty of ammunition for subsequent beer-fueled conversations in the coming weeks. Which was, of course, the point!

In subsequent years, the running tally of how the Bunny Coefficient was going led to some interesting-looking bowling changes in the last games of the season, and considerable speculation about who would win the award. Just an extra bit of fun, consistent with the ethos of our club – we never sledge the opposition, but boy can we give each other a hard time!

Does the Bunny Coefficient work at Test level? Not really. For one thing, bowlers deliver multiple spells, and the quickies tend to take on both the top order and the tail. There are also night watchmen batting out of position. I did a calculation for the 2010-2011 Ashes series (see below), but the spread was pretty narrow, as I suspected it would be. A slow bowler, England’s off-spinner Graeme Swann, topped the list. Perhaps he should receive some recognition within the squad? It could make for an entertaining addition to his web diaries as, say, Jimmy Anderson handed the prize over.

Realistically, this is a statistical parameter aimed at amateur cricket, a bit of fun that can play well among the bowlers. Try it on your own clubs and see what it reveals?

Ashes Bunny Coefficient 2010-11
















































1)     Minimum 5 wickets. This qualification eliminated many of the Australian bowlers from consideration.

2)     In two tests, Anderson batted up the order as a night watchman and is recorded in the position he batted.  Given the nature of the Australian attack, he was still a “tough out”, so this seemed justified.

3)     The Australians have lower BC numbers on average, because only rarely did they dismiss enough top order batsmen to actually have the chance of bowling at the tail enders.



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3 Responses to "Hunting the Bunnies"
  1. Reply iresh January 24, 2012 20:18 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this, never knew such stat existed! What’s your club bunny coefficient? Will be intersting if there was a similiar one, just on the number of times you get a single batsman out! For example like Zaheer on Smith or previously the biggest bunny of them all, Darryl Cullinan when facing Shane Warne!

  2. Moore
    Reply Moore January 24, 2012 22:45 pm

    Hi Iresh, and thanks for your comment! My Bunny Coefficient last season was an all-time low of 4.1 (it’s normally between 5 and 6). I kept on being brought on early, and rarely had a sniff of a bunny :( .

    As to your question, I have seen articles listed the favorite victims of Test Match bowlers. From memory, the leader was Glenn McGrath who dismissed Mike Atherton 19 or 20 times over their long careers in opposition. Maybe another pair has passed that mark by now though. As to Warne and Cullinan, you are right that the “contest” usually had a quick ending, but I don’t think they played against each other all that often. My bet is that Warne got his man maybe 5 times in total? I could easily be wrong though!

  3. Reply Tarun Sandhu January 27, 2012 00:41 am

    Great article John, totally enjoyed reading through this ! Loved the stats description..