Field of nightmares: BBL drops dissected

An analysis of the missed chances throughout this summer's Big Bash reveals the best and worst catching sides

Dave Middleton

31 January 2018, 06:18 PM AEST

Think of Big Bash cricket and most would think of towering sixers or flashing zing bails from searing yorkers. But this season, there has been a growing unease that the standard of fielding in the shortest format has been slipping.

There have been some memorable catches held this season – from the catch described as "the greatest you will ever see" between Ben Laughlin and Jake Weatherald, to the ice-cool caught-and-bowled nonchalantly held by Jofra Archer.

And the Melbourne Renegades were sensational in the field in their final regular season game against the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba, with no fewer than three classic grabs.

But there have also been some ordinary, and very costly, efforts. Such as when Joe Burns put down Hobart's D'Arcy Short on his way to a century, or Brad Hogg's drop in the deep at the WACA at a crucial juncture against the Perth Scorchers.

Former Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds started tallying fielding achievements and errors on Network Ten commentary, while the official data tracked by Cricket Australia's analysts paints a concerning picture.

Burns drop proves costly for Heat

There were more catches taken in BBL|07 than ever before, but there were also more drops than any previous season; facts that can be offset partly given there were more games played in this expanded season.

But drilling into the data tracked by CA's High Performance Unit shows that in terms of percentages, BBL|07 was the worst season for catching in the short history of the competition.

There were officially 88 catches put down in 40 regular season BBL games this summer, or more than two dropped chances every game.

Hogg signs off with costly dropped catch

Of the 400 catch chances in the BBL|07 regular season, from the straightforward to the screamer, 312 of them – or 78 per cent – were taken.

That compares to a touch over 79 in each of the past two seasons, while BBL|03 in the 2013-14 summer was the best for fielders, with 83.5 per cent of all catches held.

More worryingly for Australian cricket, the percentages have dipped for the catches classed as 'Grade 1', those deemed the easiest for professional cricketers.

From the high of 90.5 per cent of Grade 1 catches held in BBL|03, less than 86 per cent were held in BBL|07.

CA's data shows there were 44 drops and 167 caught by fielders inside the 30-yard circle, while 145 catches were caught with another 44 dropped in the deep.

The worst offending team was the Brisbane Heat, who could well have altered the course of their season with better catching, having narrowly missed out on a finals berth.

The best catching team was the Sydney Sixers, another club that missed out on a finals berth although that can be put down to their slow start to the season. The Sixers held 87 per cent of all their catches.

Catching did improve in the second half of the season – by the midway point just 84 per cent of Grade 1 chances had been held.

There was, perhaps unsurprisingly a stark difference in the catching completion rate between victorious and defeated teams, underlining the age-old adage 'catches win matches'.

On average, winning teams held onto more than 80 per cent of their catches, while the catching percentage for defeated teams fell to barely 70 per cent.

BBL catching (total figures)

BBL|07 catching (percentage of catches held)

Sydney Sixers 87%

Adelaide Strikers 84.2%

Melbourne Renegades 82.8%

Hobart Hurricanes 82.1%

Melbourne Stars 75.6%

Perth Scorchers 75.5%

Sydney Thunder 71.4%

Brisbane Heat 66%