March 27, 2010

The amazing symmetry of Tests, ODIs, and Twenty20s

A stats analysis of the scoring rates in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 internationals
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Adam Gilchrist: quicker than the rest in all formats © AFP

Man cannot have deliberately designed three forms of the game of cricket with more symmetry in their relative run rates than he has done so.

With the first international Twenty20 match being played in February, 2005, the three forms of the game have co-existed together since then, challenging batsmen to adapt to the vastly different conditions that each brings to the contest.

Since that time, Test cricket, with no limit on the length of an innings, has produced runs at the rate of 3.34 runs per over, (compared with a run rate of 2.74 runs per over in all Tests to that point).

One-day internationals, played for the most part over 50 overs per innings, have an overall scoring rate of 5.01 runs per over since 2005, (compared to a rate of 4.57 runs per over in the first 34 years of their existence).

Twenty20 cricket, played over 20 overs per innings, has offered runs at the furious rate of 7.53 runs per over in the first 140 matches.

What is remarkably symmetrical about these run rates since 2005 is this: the run rate in ODIs has been almost exactly 50 per cent higher than the run rate in Tests. Not 49 percent, not 51 percent, but 50 percent.

As if this is not remarkable enough, when we do a similar calculation between the run rates of ODI and T20 matches, we find again that the run rate in T20 matches is almost exactly 50 percent higher than that for ODIs. 50.3 percent, to be precise.

This symmetry in the run rates between the three forms of the game is so perfect that is appears to have been deliberately engineered. We know, of course, that it wasn't.

These 50 percent increments can be used as a benchmark to track the adaptability of individual batsmen who have played the three forms of the game.

I then became interested in finding ways to measure how individual batsmen fared against these benchmarks. I looked at six Australians who played extensively in all three since 2005, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden.

The most adaptable of this group appears to be Mike Hussey, whose respective scoring rates in Tests, ODIs and T20s since 2005 have been 2.90, 5.30 and 8.32 runs per over. That gives him an overall increase from Tests to T20s of 287 percent, well above the 225 percent that would be achieved if he had just managed 50 percent increases up the line.

The lowest overall gain, 171 percent, was achieved by Adam Gilchrist (4.96, 6.16, 8.50), although he is somewhat penalised by his high Test run rate, where he tended to bat as though it was a limited overs match. The other player who has clearly had problems forcing the run rate is Michael Clarke (3.14, 4.55, 6.28). His figures show that he has only managed to double his Test run rate when playing T20 cricket, well below par.

Player Test run rate ODI run rate T20 run rate Overall increase (%)
Ricky Ponting 3.69 5.05 7.97 216
Michael Clarke 3.14 4.55 6.28 200
Michael Hussey 2.90 5.30 8.32 287
Adam Gilchrist 4.96 6.16 8.50 171
Andrew Symonds 3.96 5.67 10.16 257
Matthew Hayden 3.36 4.96 8.64 257

As an alternative, and to overcome the penalty suffered by Gilchrist in particular for scoring so quickly at Test level, I then calculated three ratios for each player, and then multiplied those ratios together. The three ratios were the degree each player exceeded, or failed to exceed, the overall scoring rate for each class of cricket.

Ponting, for example, had a ratio of 1.10 for Test cricket, 1.11 for ODIs and 1.06 for T20s. The product of those three ratios is 1.29.

Doing this for the six batsmen provides the following:

Ricky Ponting 1.29
Michael Clarke 0.78
Michael Hussey 1.11
Adam Gilchrist 2.26
Andrew Symonds 1.98
Matthew Hayden 1.25

This method confirms Gilchrist's position as a premier run-scoring batsman, and consigns Michael Clarke to where he should be.

I hope this initial foray into analysing scoring rates over different classes of cricket might lead to some more sophisticated and extensive work by others!

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanjaya on April 6, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    Brilliant analysis! the 1.5 ratios are terrific... would love to see how they go each year...

  • Aneesh on April 1, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Pretty neat, Ric.

    I'd love to do a D-L type analysis at some point that takes into account the match situation when these players batted. Easier said than done, I know!

  • Jeff on March 30, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    @ Tommy P

    Based on the data that I pulled from Statsguru, Gayle is 8th on the list with a ratio of 1.43. Pietersen is 10th with 1.30

    The complete top 10 are

    Afridi Sehwag Gilchrist Symonds Jayasuriya Yuvraj Dilshan Gayle McCullum Pietersen

    Cook & Samaraweera don’t feature on my list of 42 as they haven’t played enough T20 matches to qualify.

    Other notable players who are “below average” in terms of SR are;

    Shoaib Malik 0.74 Kallis 0.76 Sarwam 0.80

    Hope this helps

  • Jeff on March 29, 2010, 12:39 GMT

    Interesting stuff Ric.

    I used StatsGuru to pull out the top run scorers in each of the 3 formats since Feb 2005 and I limited my analysis to only those players who appear in the top 100 run scorers in all 3 – this leaves 42 players in all.

    I seem to have slightly different numbers to you for the Aussies in my list (maybe because StatsGuru includes matches like the ICC vs Aus and other similar non-country v country matches? Maybe also some rounding?)

    That said, the top 5 players based on your combined ratio method are:

    Afridi 3.75 Sehwag 2.55 Gilchrist 2.06 Symonds 1.83 Jayasuriya 1.64

    The bottom 3 are:

    Chanderpaul 0.54 Salman Butt 0.56 Tamim Iqbal 0.69

    Gautam Gambhir seems to be the most consistently average player in terms of SR, his overall ratio is exactly 1 and each individual ratio is between 0.97 and 1.03.

  • Tommy P on March 29, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    Nice analysis! Please extend it to some of the other top players - how do the likes of Sehwag, Gayle and Pietersen compare to Gilchrist? What about supposed go-slow merchants like Cook, Sameraweera et al?

  • Saif on March 28, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    Great observation, Ric. Fact again turns out stranger than fiction!

  • liquidwounds on March 28, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    Insightful. Wondering if the same analysis could be done for bowlers. Guessing Murali to be at the top of the list.

  • Praveen on March 28, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    Amazing stuff!

    I actually thought ODI scoring rates would be closer to 6, but that may be because I am from india. Almost every match here has both teams crossing 300.

  • Kurt Petersen on March 28, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    This is great. It squarely highlights the scoring rate compared to the average player. However, please now multiply the ratios per form of the game with a ratio that focuses on their batting average per form of the game (against some average). This should provide (a.) a rate and (b) a result in order to get an effectiveness for each player. This should spread the results even more.

  • Michael on March 28, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Very interesting article indeed!

  • Sanjaya on April 6, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    Brilliant analysis! the 1.5 ratios are terrific... would love to see how they go each year...

  • Aneesh on April 1, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    Pretty neat, Ric.

    I'd love to do a D-L type analysis at some point that takes into account the match situation when these players batted. Easier said than done, I know!

  • Jeff on March 30, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    @ Tommy P

    Based on the data that I pulled from Statsguru, Gayle is 8th on the list with a ratio of 1.43. Pietersen is 10th with 1.30

    The complete top 10 are

    Afridi Sehwag Gilchrist Symonds Jayasuriya Yuvraj Dilshan Gayle McCullum Pietersen

    Cook & Samaraweera don’t feature on my list of 42 as they haven’t played enough T20 matches to qualify.

    Other notable players who are “below average” in terms of SR are;

    Shoaib Malik 0.74 Kallis 0.76 Sarwam 0.80

    Hope this helps

  • Jeff on March 29, 2010, 12:39 GMT

    Interesting stuff Ric.

    I used StatsGuru to pull out the top run scorers in each of the 3 formats since Feb 2005 and I limited my analysis to only those players who appear in the top 100 run scorers in all 3 – this leaves 42 players in all.

    I seem to have slightly different numbers to you for the Aussies in my list (maybe because StatsGuru includes matches like the ICC vs Aus and other similar non-country v country matches? Maybe also some rounding?)

    That said, the top 5 players based on your combined ratio method are:

    Afridi 3.75 Sehwag 2.55 Gilchrist 2.06 Symonds 1.83 Jayasuriya 1.64

    The bottom 3 are:

    Chanderpaul 0.54 Salman Butt 0.56 Tamim Iqbal 0.69

    Gautam Gambhir seems to be the most consistently average player in terms of SR, his overall ratio is exactly 1 and each individual ratio is between 0.97 and 1.03.

  • Tommy P on March 29, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    Nice analysis! Please extend it to some of the other top players - how do the likes of Sehwag, Gayle and Pietersen compare to Gilchrist? What about supposed go-slow merchants like Cook, Sameraweera et al?

  • Saif on March 28, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    Great observation, Ric. Fact again turns out stranger than fiction!

  • liquidwounds on March 28, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    Insightful. Wondering if the same analysis could be done for bowlers. Guessing Murali to be at the top of the list.

  • Praveen on March 28, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    Amazing stuff!

    I actually thought ODI scoring rates would be closer to 6, but that may be because I am from india. Almost every match here has both teams crossing 300.

  • Kurt Petersen on March 28, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    This is great. It squarely highlights the scoring rate compared to the average player. However, please now multiply the ratios per form of the game with a ratio that focuses on their batting average per form of the game (against some average). This should provide (a.) a rate and (b) a result in order to get an effectiveness for each player. This should spread the results even more.

  • Michael on March 28, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Very interesting article indeed!

  • from_bombay on March 28, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    What bullshit! Why is this a story? This is just pointless number-crunching. The numbers dont prove/disprove anything, they just happen to be. If you are so enthu, why dont you go calculate the surface area of an elephant? It'll be as pointless. Disappointed, that such an article appeared in cricinfo.

  • Xolile on March 27, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    Ric, I have been studying these relationships for some time now. Unfortunately the T20I information is still very shallow, so it is difficult to draw conclusions. Also, IPL teams have started to pick Twenty20 specialists whereas T20Is teams merely pick those that fit the mould. (In other words, Michael Clarke should not be playing T20Is.)

    Roles are another aspect that makes it difficult to compare batsmen across the formats. Take Kallis for example. In Tests he anchors the innings for SA. In ODIs his role is similar. But recently in T20Is he has been given the license to attack at the top of the batting order. His ratios from here on in are therefore bound to be distorted (as suggested by his recent IPL form).

    Anyway, a few years from now we should be able to compare Rilee Rossouw, Phil Hughes and Mandeep Singh and see who has mastered all three formats of the game.

  • Arvind on March 27, 2010, 15:50 GMT

    Hi Ric Comparing strike rates in the three formats is a bit problematic because there is no good way to normalize across the formats. May I suggest that you have a look at the consistency of the performances. For instance, does increased strike rates of Hayden and Gilchrist also reflect in their consistency, my guess is that though strike rates have gone up, consistency may have gone down. Maybe try to estimate the ratio of variance and mean of the score of the top batsmen...

    right arm over Arvind

  • Boll on March 27, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    Interesting analysis, although the statement regarding Clarke`s status amongst this group smacks of some personal grievance. I`ve just run Dravid`s statistics through the same model, and he ends up at .68 - not a premier run-scoring batsman then? Consigned to the dustbin? It`s one thing to analyse statistics based solely on SR, quite another to make a qualitative analysis of `where (batsmen) should be` on this basis alone.

  • Boll on March 27, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Interesting analysis, although the statement regarding Clarke`s status amongst this group smacks of some personal grievance. I`ve just run Dravid`s statistics through the same model, and he ends up at .68 - not a premier run-scoring batsman then? Consigned to the dustbin? It`s one thing to analyse statistics based solely on SR, quite another to make a qualitative analysis of `where (batsmen) should be` on this basis alone.

  • sakib on March 27, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    very very very interesting observation, just goes to prove what T20 has done to international cricket, im sure the increase in strike rate will only go higher as time progresses, (not good news for bowlers though) another good thing what i am assuming is that since the event of T20 the test matches would have been more result oriented as in less of draws. can you please fill me up on this one. Thanx and best regards.

  • SC on March 27, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Nice way of gauging a batsman's adaptability to all three forms of the game. However, don't you think that the batsmen's averages should be taken into account. For instance, how well do the batsmen fare in terms of their averages in the three formats as compared to other top-order batsmen.

  • Jay on March 27, 2010, 11:15 GMT

    Sorry, please explain the 225% and 287% increases cited in the para on Mike Hussey.

  • saurabh somani on March 27, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    very nice analysis, and certainly opens up a whole new way of looking at scoring rates. personally, i found this short piece a lot more insightful than some of the recent lengthy posts on It Figures.

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  • saurabh somani on March 27, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    very nice analysis, and certainly opens up a whole new way of looking at scoring rates. personally, i found this short piece a lot more insightful than some of the recent lengthy posts on It Figures.

  • Jay on March 27, 2010, 11:15 GMT

    Sorry, please explain the 225% and 287% increases cited in the para on Mike Hussey.

  • SC on March 27, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Nice way of gauging a batsman's adaptability to all three forms of the game. However, don't you think that the batsmen's averages should be taken into account. For instance, how well do the batsmen fare in terms of their averages in the three formats as compared to other top-order batsmen.

  • sakib on March 27, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    very very very interesting observation, just goes to prove what T20 has done to international cricket, im sure the increase in strike rate will only go higher as time progresses, (not good news for bowlers though) another good thing what i am assuming is that since the event of T20 the test matches would have been more result oriented as in less of draws. can you please fill me up on this one. Thanx and best regards.

  • Boll on March 27, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    Interesting analysis, although the statement regarding Clarke`s status amongst this group smacks of some personal grievance. I`ve just run Dravid`s statistics through the same model, and he ends up at .68 - not a premier run-scoring batsman then? Consigned to the dustbin? It`s one thing to analyse statistics based solely on SR, quite another to make a qualitative analysis of `where (batsmen) should be` on this basis alone.

  • Boll on March 27, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    Interesting analysis, although the statement regarding Clarke`s status amongst this group smacks of some personal grievance. I`ve just run Dravid`s statistics through the same model, and he ends up at .68 - not a premier run-scoring batsman then? Consigned to the dustbin? It`s one thing to analyse statistics based solely on SR, quite another to make a qualitative analysis of `where (batsmen) should be` on this basis alone.

  • Arvind on March 27, 2010, 15:50 GMT

    Hi Ric Comparing strike rates in the three formats is a bit problematic because there is no good way to normalize across the formats. May I suggest that you have a look at the consistency of the performances. For instance, does increased strike rates of Hayden and Gilchrist also reflect in their consistency, my guess is that though strike rates have gone up, consistency may have gone down. Maybe try to estimate the ratio of variance and mean of the score of the top batsmen...

    right arm over Arvind

  • Xolile on March 27, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    Ric, I have been studying these relationships for some time now. Unfortunately the T20I information is still very shallow, so it is difficult to draw conclusions. Also, IPL teams have started to pick Twenty20 specialists whereas T20Is teams merely pick those that fit the mould. (In other words, Michael Clarke should not be playing T20Is.)

    Roles are another aspect that makes it difficult to compare batsmen across the formats. Take Kallis for example. In Tests he anchors the innings for SA. In ODIs his role is similar. But recently in T20Is he has been given the license to attack at the top of the batting order. His ratios from here on in are therefore bound to be distorted (as suggested by his recent IPL form).

    Anyway, a few years from now we should be able to compare Rilee Rossouw, Phil Hughes and Mandeep Singh and see who has mastered all three formats of the game.

  • from_bombay on March 28, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    What bullshit! Why is this a story? This is just pointless number-crunching. The numbers dont prove/disprove anything, they just happen to be. If you are so enthu, why dont you go calculate the surface area of an elephant? It'll be as pointless. Disappointed, that such an article appeared in cricinfo.

  • Michael on March 28, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Very interesting article indeed!