Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: One Day International

The Trott Dossier

My first “feature length” article appears on the newly minted, and it’s on Jonathan Trott. Also, it appears in the section of the site I am very proud to have named: Damned Lies and Statistics. I have found the statistical master key to the #TrottsFault enigma. I won’t give away the plot, but here’s an excerpt:

The England ODI team is stuck in the ’90s– not willing to commit to the modern pace of the game. Jonathan Trott typifies this problem. The player– and the team– who are content with “good enough” in an era of an abundance of runs.

Go read more. There are charts too. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pakistani Fountain of Youth in Numbers: a Chart on Catching Talent Young

Recently Jarod Kimber was gushing over the new Pakistan quick Junaid Khan. In doing so, he said that in addition to flair and skill, it is the youth of new Pakistan bowlers that makes them so appealing. Of course, I’m paraphrasing. Jarrod never says anything so dull.

This got me thinking about how early Pakistan cricketers start in International cricket. Anecdotally, it seemed Pakistan had the most young debutants. This led me to StatsGuru. Which led to this chart (click the chart for an awesome large version)– the bars represent % of total debutants who were under 22, and there’s one bar per decade, per team:

Debuts Under Age 22 (as % of Total Debuts)

Debuts Under Age 22 (as % of Total Debuts) by Decade in ODI cricket

(View Enlarged)

I started by just getting the per team numbers for all 40 years of ODI cricket. This was great, and demonstrated the same trend (younger debuts in the sub-continent, older in England/Aus), but I wanted to see how these numbers changed over time. So I pulled the numbers separately for each decade of One Day cricket.

A few points that stand out for me:

  • Pakistan and Sri Lanka have consistently favored youth. The remarkable thing is that their numbers remain high regardless of the fortunes of their team.
  • English players have historically taken time to prove themselves worthy of an international cap, until the last decade. Perhaps this is a reason for their recent success?
  • West Indies has oscillated dramatically between starting older and starting young.
  • Do teams turn to youth when they are struggling? This is obviously the case with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe– I didn’t include their data here– but how about other teams? What I was trying to get at by splitting the data in to four decades.
  • In countries like England, there is actually something going on at the other end of the spectrum. Andrew Strauss was effectively forced out of the side at age 34. A combination of the under-22 and over-34 problem is why the total centuries by the entire current English Test side is less than Tendulkar+Dravid*.
  • Finally, it doesn’t help to compare 1970’s statistics to other decades. It was the first decade of ODI cricket, and most “debuts” were actually established players. It does make sense, however, to compare 1970’s numbers between teams. Even in that early decade, Pakistan is substantially ahead of the rest.
Starting players late means they have shorter shelf-lives. Not only that, it makes for poorer branding. The reason adjectives like exciting get thrown around a lot more for Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen is because at 19 they’re blowing top-notch opposition out of the water.

I also pulled overall (40 year) numbers for Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but I don’t consider them interesting. They have such a poor record that they have no choice but to turn to the teenagers. If you’re interested, Bangladesh is 66% under 22 debuts, and Zimbabwe is 51%.

* And talent, of course.


England Move in to an Era of Better Hair

English Cricket Enters an Era of Better Hair

While the world worries about a three captain strategy, what worried me even more was the unceremonious limited overs retirement of Andrew Strauss.

As an India fan, this has been especially perplexing. A few weeks ago, Strauss played the 2nd-most devastating knock of the World Cup, after Taylor’s decimation of Pakistan. And now he retires.

While his 2011 hasn’t been great, 2010 was the best year of his career. In 14 innings, he scored at an average of almost 58, a strike rate near 100 with two 100s and eight 50s. In 2010, he had more 50s, more 100s, more 4s, more 6s, a higher average, a higher strike rate and more runs than any other year in his career.

It’s not as though England are having a terrific ODI run, where they can afford to lose their top performer.

Alastair Cook is a fine batsman, made the cover of Wisden, has great hair and went to the right schools but– it’s been said a billion times– but why would you name an ODI captain who couldn’t even make the 15 of your World Cup squad? Pietersen, Broad and Shahzad were sent back home injured from the World Cup, and even then, Cook was not invited, which means effectively he is not in the top 18 picks for the England ODI team.

At least he won’t replace someone who actually deserved to be in the squad on cricketing merit. He’ll replacing the retiring Strauss.

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The Kirsten Era: In Numbers

The Duncan Fletcher era is upon us. The Gary Kirsten era in Indian cricket has been quite something to watch. Especially when coupled with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Here are some highlights, as I’ve been combing through the statistics of the past few years:

Test record:

  • India played 33 tests under Kirsten, won 16, lost 6, drawn 11.
  • In the previous 3 years, India won 11, lost 6 drawn 13.
  • Basically, India learned how to convert potential draws to wins. What Australia learned under Steve Waugh.
  • At home: 10 wins, 2 losses, 7 draws. Away: 6 wins, 4 losses, 4 draws.
  • Sri Lanka and South Africa are the only test teams to have beaten India in the Kirsten era.
  • Only 1 out of 12 series was lost (Sri Lanka in ’08). No test series have been lost under Dhoni.
  • In the previous 3 years, 3 out of 11 series were lost.

One Day record:

  • India played 93 ODIs under Kirsten, won 59, lost 29 and tied 1.
  • In the previous 3 years, India won 48 and lost 42. The win percentage has gone up dramatically.
  • India won 14 out of 21 ODI series, including the World Cup.
  • Home: 24 wins, 7 losses, 1 tied. Away: 35 wins, 22 losses.
  • In the previous 3 years, India lost more away ODIs than they won. This is where their improvement has been most obvious.
In a way, this is merely a continuation of the 21st century revolution.

ODIs Don’t Matter

King Cricket makes an honorable editorial decision:

Between squad rotation, experimentation, dead rubbers and lack of interest from fans and players, we no longer see the average ODI as being an international cricket fixture. Writing about them as such maintains the illusion and amounts to tacit acceptance of scheduling that we believe is wrong. [..]

It’s not that we’ll ignore ODIs. It’s just that they don’t matter. If there is a one-day series before a Test series, it helps build the narrative for the matches that do matter – the Tests. Those ODIs have merit in that they support the Tests, setting the scene, providing intrigue. They are like warm-up matches. That’s how we’ll treat them.

While I won’t go quite as far as them, I believe it’s an excellent rule-of-thumb. This coming from the guy who just wrote a few blog posts about the IPL. I’m sorry.

The History of One Day Cricket: Part I

The One Day International has changed dramatically in its 40 years of existence. Here is part one of my analysis of the game:

Highest Score per team, per year

We’ve come a long way since the ’70s. It used to be a 60-over innings and teams barely got a couple of hundred runs. In 1977, no team made more than 250 in their allotted 60 overs. Every year since 2004, the top eight teams have had a 300+ score every year. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Take a look at how Jayasuriya and company changed the game in 1996. It’s an outlier, so different from the years around it and wouldn’t be surpassed until the batting powerplay was instituted in 2006.

Highest Score of World Cup 2011: 375 by India against Bangladesh

High Scores in One Day History

High Scores in One Day History (click for larger version)

Runs per over per team, per year

We’ve gone from a par average of 4 to a par average of 5.5. In 1994, every team had a yearly run rate of 5 and under. By 2010, every team was over 5. In fact, South Africa finished 2010 at 6 runs per over for the year.

Top 8 Teams Run Rate at World Cup 2011: 5.38

Run Rate by Year in One Day History

Run Rate by Year in One Day History (click for larger version)

Runs per wicket per team, per year

Now here’s something that hasn’t changed much as the game has changed. Even though teams are scoring at a (much) faster pace, the runs per wicket has been largely steady. Barring some outliers (West Indies in the early days, Australia in the last 10 years), the average has barely increased from the upper 20’s to the low 30’s.

In both this chart and the runs per over, Sri Lanka’s progress between say 1983 and 1996 has been the most dramatic. On this chart, Sri Lanka goes from about 18 in 1984 to 38 in 1997. Of note: Australia crossed 50 runs per wicket in 2001.

Also, look how the mighty have fallen. West Indies dominates every chart here for the first decade and then drops off the map. Finally, the era of Aussie dominance ended in 2008- the orange dot on all three charts falls from the top that year.

World Cup 2011: Matches Among Top 8 Teams:
Side Batting First: 29.58 Runs per Wicket
Side Batting Second: 31.61 Runs per Wicket
Overall: 30.49

Average per wicket per year in One Day History

Average per wicket per year in One Day History (click for larger version)

In the next installment, I will present three charts on how the balance of power in one day internationals has changed over 40 years.


  • Only the top eight teams (no Zimbabwe, no Bangladesh) have been considered.
  • The runs per over are for the entire year, with each dot representing a different team.
  • The runs per wicket are for the entire year, with each dot representing a different team.
  • The highest score is the highest score for a particular team in that year.
  • The color code for each country is consistent across all charts.
  • Statistics until the end of 2010 are reflected in the charts.

The Birth of One Day Cricket

Photo of Don Bradman taken the MCG, Melbourne ...

Image via Wikipedia

Andy Bull remembers the day One Day cricket was born:

When the match was called off on the third day, Bradman himself climbed up the steps to the press box and announced that a seventh Test had been bolted on to the back-end of the England tour. And, as a short-term sop to the sports-starved Melbourne public, a Gillette Cup style ‘limited-overs Test’ would be played between the two teams at the MCG on what would have been the fifth day.

India’s Path to the World Cup Finals

Never Again

Never Again.

The Cricket World Cup is still three weeks away, but it’s never too early to lay out a hypothetical situation.

The Group of Death
The fourteen teams competing in the World Cup are divided into two groups. The top four in each will make it to the quarter-finals.

First, take a look at the two groups:

Group B Group A
  • Bangladesh
  • England
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
  • West Indies
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Kenya
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Zimbabwe

One of these things is not like the other. Clearly, based on recent form, Group B is the group of death.

100 Hundred Overs = 98 Ad Breaks
Thankfully for the members of Group B, cricket is ruled by a powerful few, and their television revenues. The ICC cannot afford (another) World Cup where the most popular teams fail to make it to the later rounds. For this reason, four teams from each group will qualify for the next round– which should make sure most, if not all, of the high advertising-revenue countries will play the quarter-finals.

Note: Of course, major upsets are always possible, as we saw in 2003. And 2007. Just ask Bob Woolmer. In all seriousness, statistically, a single upset among eight teams is likely. If I had to guess, Bangladesh could beat West Indies to a quarter-final slot. Pakistan, New Zealand and India also have the tendency to vastly under or over-perform, but never meet expectations.

So, in all likelihood, the usual suspects will make it to the quarter-finals. For sake of argument, my nominal prediction:

  • A1: Australia
  • A2: Sri Lanka
  • A3: New Zealand
  • A4: Pakistan
  • B1: South Africa
  • B2: India
  • B3: England
  • B4: West Indies

For the most part, the ranking within the group does not matter. You could come fourth in your group, and still make the quarter-finals. Except, if you’re in Group B, this will likely mean you have an early date with Australia.

[Note: And no one wants an early date with Australia. Not even New Zealand. They live next door, they would know.]

On the other hand, a top-three place within Group B would (likely) ensure avoiding Australia until at least the semi-final. The other three potential opponents are deadly on their day– and Sri Lanka in the sub-continent can be lethal– but if I had to choose when to meet Australia, I would choose the finals.

[Note: In reality, I would choose never, or when the moon turned blue, or when Ponting returns to form.]

[Note: Note to self: never bet against Ponting.]

Location, Location, Location
There is another wrinkle in the story.

If India finish second or fourth in their group, they play their quarter-finals in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

If India finish third in their group, they play in Colombo, Sri Lanka. If, simultaneously, Sri Lanka finish second in their group India play Sri Lanka in Colombo. Short of playing Australia, this is probably the second worst-case quarter-final scenario.

Here’s the best case: If India finish at the top of their group, they play at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India. India does not have a terrific One Day record in Ahmedabad (winning only five of twelve), but they would prefer a home ground to Dhaka or Colombo any day.

[Note: India has a better record at Dhaka, but that’s only because they played Bangladesh. The three times they have lost were to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. India’s recent record at the Premadasa in Colombo, isn’t too bad either. They have defeated Sri Lanka five of the last seven times in the past two years.]

As an added benefit, the winner here would play their semi-final in Mohali instead of Colombo. And everybody loves Mohali, right? Right?

[Note: India have lost their last three ODIs in Mohali.]

#1, #1. #1
In short, while the early stages of the World Cup are largely meaningless (as they have been for some time), there are a few minor goals to shoot for.

If they finish in the top three in their group, India may be able to avoid Australia. For now.

If the they finish on top, they have the home advantage and most likely avoid Australia until the finals. And avoid a repeat of 2003. And hope someone else beats Australia before them.