Inferior Replacements

Hello there. I’m coming up with a new, weekly post answering random sports questions, based on xkcd What If? Comment your questions or talk to me via my Twitter (@NickTheStatsGuy).

Why did England replace Ballance with Bairstow? (Adam F, via Twitter)

England have dropped Gary Ballance for Jon Bairstow leading into the third Ashes test, which, on the face of it, seems pretty stupid.
Sourced from ABC Grandstand's Twitter account.

But maybe there are other reasons?

England win % when either is playing

Excluding the Sydney test in 2013-14 when both were playing, Ballance played 14 matches and Bairstow 13.

Out of Ballance’s 14 matches, England has won 6 (42.9%), and of Bairstow’s 13, they’ve won 8 (61.5%).

So Bairstow causes more wins than Ballance, but how about against Australia?

Records against Australia

Against Australia, both have similar records. Ballance averages 20.50 with a high score of 61, while Bairstow is slightly better, averaging 21.90 and a top score of 67.

Records in the third Test of a series

These two have played in a 3rd Test six times, twice for Ballance and four times for Bairstow.

Ballance averages 58 runs in 3rd tests, a personal record. Bairstow averages 33, but his best score was in a 3rd Test.

Records after a loss

This would be the clincher. If Bairstow is a specialist at lifting morale after a loss, then of course they’d put him in.

He’s not.

In matches after a loss, Bairstow has scored 10, 21, 18, and 0. That’s 49 runs, at an average of 12.25. Those matches were the last two of his career, during the 2013-14 Ashes collapse.

Ballance, on the other hand, has 18, 7, 23, 104*, 71, 156, 38, 1, 0, 61, and 0. 479 runs at an average of 47.9.
So, Adam, the answer to your question: The ECB needed a scapegoat, and they chose Ballance. They replaced him with Bairstow because the alternative was KP.

Although that’s not such a bad idea…

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