February 5, 2011

The World Cups so far: an alternate review

A statistical analysis of the top performances in World Cups played between 1975 and 2007

Adam Gilchrist: top performer in big matches in World Cups © Getty Images

The tenth edition of the World Cup is not far away. Over the next 10 days, I will first do a review of the nine World Cups so far and then a preview of the World Cup 2011. I will try to do something different to what is already available easily in public domain.

If you wanted to know the number of runs scored at what average or wickets captured with attendant details, you only have to go to the excellent Cricinfo World Cup section or peruse Madhu Ramakrishnan's excellent article in this blog. One click will let you know that Tendulkar has scored 1796 runs at 57.93 or that Muralitharan, with 53 wickets, needs 19 wickets to overtake McGrath and so on. What I have attempted to do is to add some weight to these runs and wickets. Also I wanted to do a different type of Team performance analysis.

During the first four World Cups, the teams played an initial round-robin, with four groups, and then the knock-out rounds of semi finals and final. The only difference being the double-leg round-robin during 1983 and 1987. During 1992 the format changed slightly. The teams played in a single group, they played a round-robin before the semi finals and final. Each of the The next four world cups had a different format. 1992 was an an excellent format.

The 1996 edition had a format exactly identical to the forthcoming world cup. 2 groups, quarter finals, semi finals and final. This is also a very good format since it requires teams to have three consecutive wins to win the world cup, not two. The only difference is that the 1996 edition had 12 teams and the 2011 edition will have 14 teams. The 1999 and 2003 editions had preliminary league, super-six group, semi finals and finals. Both were similar except that more teams participated in the 2003 event. There was yet another change for the unwieldy 2007 event. There was a preliminary 4-group league, a super eights, semi finals and final.

The reason I have taken the trouble of describing the formats is to clarify my weighting process. Despite the format variations, there has been a common feature at the start and end of the tournaments. There have been preliminary leagues at the start and semi finals and final at the end. In between, we have had super sixes, super eights and quarter finals. So I have decided to weight the matches in the following groups to do a weighted runs/wickets/team performances analysis.

The weighting of performances is done based on the WHEN factor since the matches become more significant as we come to the later stages. As far as opposition quality is concerned, it is my firm opinion that this becomes irrelevant in a knock-out match. There is no way I am going to treat Tendulkar's 83 or Ganguly's 111 scored in the 2003 semi final at a lower level, since their innings helped India reach the final. Else India might have lost to Kenya.

As far as preliminary matches are concerned, I am not going to lower the weight for matches against weaker teams. Every match in a World Cup is important. India and Pakistan in 2007 WC are living examples of being derailed by losing the preliminary matches against weaker teams. So all preliminary matches will have a weight of 100%.

Preliminary league matches: 100%
Super six matches:          110%
Super eight matches:        110%
Quarter-Finals:             112.5%
Semi Finals:                125%
Finals:                     150%
Note: The Quarter Finals have a slightly higher weight because of the knock-out 
nature of the concerned match.

I am sure readers would point out that there have been important matches in the preliminary leagues and deserve a higher weight. However I am not going to take that route. Then other questions will come in, especially for early matches. How important was Kapil Dev's 175 or Tendulkar's 98 ? What would have happened if India had lost ? Did they still have a chance ? So many other match, group and tournament related conditions would have to be considered. There is also no way to automate these factors. Each match has to be considered manually. Hence I have taken a reasonably sound weight pattern. Maybe at the end of the 2011 World Cup I would probably do a more in-depth analysis of the 10 world cups, incorporating a few more relevant factors also, including match status, support, bowling quality and importance of matches.

The team performance analysis is done in two ways. The first is a straight-forward analysis of the matches played, wins achieved, no-result and lost matches and does a simple % performance achievement. Let us see this table first.

Team         Mats  W  NR   L  <-Points->    %
Max   Base

Australia 69 51 1 17 138 103.0 74.6 South Africa 40 25 2 13 80 52.0 65.0 West Indies 57 35 1 21 114 71.0 62.3 England 59 36 1 22 118 73.0 61.9 New Zealand 62 35 1 26 124 71.0 57.3 India 58 32 1 25 116 65.0 56.0 Pakistan 56 30 2 24 112 62.0 55.4 Sri Lanka 57 25 2 30 114 52.0 45.6 Kenya 23 6 1 16 46 13.0 28.3 Ireland 9 2 1 6 18 5.0 27.8 Bangladesh 20 5 1 14 40 11.0 27.5 Zimbabwe 45 8 4 33 90 20.0 22.2 U.A.E. 5 1 0 4 10 2.0 20.0 Netherlands 14 2 0 12 28 4.0 14.3 Canada 12 1 0 11 24 2.0 8.3 Scotland 8 0 0 8 16 0.0 0.0 Namibia 6 0 0 6 12 0.0 0.0 East Africa 3 0 0 3 6 0.0 0.0 Bermuda 3 0 0 3 6 0.0 0.0

No one is going to win the Nobel Prize for predicting the best performer. Australia have been the out-performer amongst all countries. They have won 51 of the 69 matches and have an outstanding % achievement of 74.6. Despite their hiccups at crucial times, South Africa are next with 65.0%. They are followed by West Indies with 62.3%. England (3 finals) and New Zealand come in next because of their overall consistency. India is only in sixth position, not surprising in view of their very poor performance in four of the world cups so far (1975, 1979, 1992 and 2007). Similarly Pakistan and Sri Lanka have had up and down rides during the world cups.

In the second Team performance table, I have weighted the results by the Match index already explained. In other words a team winning the world cup would get 3 points (2 x 1.50) for the match, the winner of the semi final will get 2.5 (2.0 x 1.25) and so on. Thus the importance of the match is reflected strongly.

Team         Mats  WC  WC  <-Points->    %
Wins RU  Max   Wted

Australia 69 4 2 138 130.4 94.5 West Indies 57 2 1 114 82.8 72.7 South Africa 40 0 0 80 55.6 69.5 England 59 0 3 118 79.3 67.2 India 58 1 1 116 74.1 63.9 Pakistan 56 1 1 112 68.6 61.2 New Zealand 62 0 0 124 74.6 60.2 Sri Lanka 57 1 1 114 61.7 54.2 Ireland 9 0 0 18 5.6 31.1 Kenya 23 0 0 46 13.6 29.6 Bangladesh 20 0 0 40 11.6 29.0 Zimbabwe 45 0 0 90 20.0 22.2 U.A.E. 5 0 0 10 2.0 20.0 Netherlands 14 0 0 28 4.0 14.3 Canada 12 0 0 24 2.0 8.3 Scotland 8 0 0 16 0.0 0.0 Namibia 6 0 0 12 0.0 0.0 East Africa 3 0 0 6 0.0 0.0 Bermuda 3 0 0 6 0.0 0.0

Australia, with their 4 WC wins and 2 finals, are the runaway leader with 94.5%. Incidentally I have kept the base the same as last table to get a clear idea of the outliers. Then some churning takes place. West Indies, with 2 wins and 1 final, move to second place. South Africa only moves down a place, despite having never even reached the final. Similarly India, with their 1 win and 1 final, are in fifth place.

Now for the batting table, with incorporation of weight of matches.

Cty Player                <--Runs-->  Wt %
WC  Wted

Ind Tendulkar S.R 1796 1852 103.1 Aus Ponting R.T 1537 1722 112.0 Win Lara B.C 1225 1265 103.3 Aus Gilchrist A.C 1085 1257 115.9 Slk Jayasuriya S.T 1165 1241 106.5 Slk de Silva P.A 1064 1149 108.0 Pak Javed Miandad 1083 1147 105.9 Win Richards I.V.A 1013 1131 111.6 Nzl Fleming S.P 1075 1123 104.5 Saf Gibbs H.H 1067 1122 105.2 Aus Hayden M.L 987 1080 109.4 Ind Ganguly S.C 1006 1061 105.5 Aus Waugh M.E 1004 1059 105.5 Aus Waugh S.R 978 1036 105.9 Slk Ranatunga A 969 1003 103.5 Eng Gooch G.A 897 989 110.3 Saf Kallis J.H 923 975 105.6 Pak Saeed Anwar 915 971 106.1 Nzl Crowe M.D 880 902 102.5 Ind Dravid R 860 900 104.7

The average performances of India during recent world cups has meant that Tendulkar has played few high valued key matches and has not done very well in late stage matches. This is reflected in the wt % of only 103.1. Ponting, on the other hand, with his three wins, has his runs increased by 12%. Lara matches Tendulkar's lack of success with 3.3%. These three are the leading run-scorers in any case. However look at Gilchrist. A whopping 15.9% increase, the highest for any batsman. He has leap-frogged over Jayasuriya. Note how Richards also has got a 11.6% increase, with his two wins and third final. The significance of this % values is that it is possible to conclude that, other things not considered, on average, the runs scored by Gilchrist were 15.9% more valuable, while those scored by Fleming were 4.5%. Since I am keeping the minimum weight as 100%, these numbers tell quite a story.

The batsmen with the 10 highest weight % are given below. There are no surprises that the Australians and West Indians have dominated this list since they have won 6 world cups between them. However note Sehwag's and Gooch's over achievement. Gilchrist, Ponting and Richards are the significant batsmen in this list.

Win 0067 Lloyd C.H              393   463  117.8
Aus 0932 Gilchrist A.C         1085  1257  115.9
Aus 0715 Martyn D.R             352   405  115.1
Aus 0818 Ponting R.T           1537  1722  112.0
Ind 1210 Sehwag V               463   518  111.9
Aus 0784 Bevan M.G              537   600  111.7
Win 0148 Richards I.V.A        1013  1131  111.6
Win 0068 Kallicharran A.I       251   279  111.2
Slk 1251 Sangakkara K.C         526   584  111.0
Eng 0169 Gooch G.A              897   989  110.3

It must be remembered that while it is the team effort to reach the later stages, only if the player performs well in the later stages does he get credit with higher weighted runs/wickets. If a player does well in the earlier matches but fails in the key matches later, he does not get additional credit. A perfect example is Hayden, who despite his two WC wins, has not performed at his high standards in the later stages. His increase is only 9.4%.

Cty Player                <--Wkts-->  Wt %
WC  Wted

Aus McGrath G.D 71 78.6 110.7 Pak Wasim Akram 55 58.3 106.0 Slk Muralitharan M 53 56.8 107.2 Slk Vaas WPUJC 49 52.1 106.3 Ind Srinath J 44 46.2 105.0 Saf Donald A.A 38 39.6 104.2 Aus Hogg G.B 34 37.1 109.3 Aus Warne S.K 32 36.6 114.2 Pak Imran Khan 34 35.5 104.4 Saf Pollock S.M 31 33.1 106.8 Nzl Harris C.Z 32 32.5 101.4 Eng Botham I.T 30 32.2 107.5 Nzl Bond S.E 30 31.9 106.5 Ind Kumble A 31 31.8 102.6 Slk Jayasuriya S.T 27 30.2 111.9 Ind Kapil Dev N 28 29.8 106.2 Eng DeFreitas P.A.J 29 29.5 101.7 Win Roberts A.M.E 26 29.0 111.5 Aus McDermott C.J 27 28.8 106.5 Aus Waugh S.R 27 28.7 106.3

McGrath has his haul of 71 wickets increased to 78.6 with his multiple world cup wins. All the top three bowlers have maintained their positions since their world cup performances are good. In fact the only change is that Warne has moved above Imran Khan because of his outstanding world cup performances during 1999.

The bowlers with the 10 highest weight % are given below. There are no surprises that the Australians and West Indians have dominated this. Gilmour is here because he hit the zone in two very important matches, the 1975 semi final and final. Garner delivered in 1979. Note also Harbhajan's performance, although with only 11 wickets. Warne is the most significant of the bowlers listed here because of his haul of 32 wickets. The bowlers' % increases are much higher than the batsmen since their outlying performances are way above the average performances. 6 wickets as against a normal of 2 as compared with a century against a normal of 50.

Aus 0089 Gilmour G.J            11  15.0  136.4
Win 0180 Garner J               13  16.2  125.0
Win 0071 Boyce K.D              10  12.0  120.0
Eng 0079 Hendrick M             10  11.8  117.5
Eng 0346 Hemmings E.E           13  15.0  115.4
Slk 0410 de Silva P.A           16  18.4  115.3
Aus 0672 Reiffel P.R            12  13.8  114.8
Aus 0730 Warne S.K              32  36.6  114.2
Aus 1112 Lee B                  22  24.9  113.0
Ind 1023 Harbhajan Singh        11  12.4  112.7

This is the all-rounder analysis. A simple generic wicket valuation at 25 runs and a combination of runs scored and wickets captured. The qualifications for this complete table are players who have captured 10 wickets or more and scored 200 runs and more. The wickets and runs are weighted and the index calculated (Runs scored + 25 x wickets captured). No great changes, though in the order of the table other than that Richards jumped over Kallis because of his cup successes.

Cty Player          <---Actual---->  <--Weighted--->
Runs Wkts Index  Runs Wkts Index

Slk Jayasuriya S.T 1165 27 1840 1241 30.2 1996 Pak Wasim Akram 426 55 1801 454 58.3 1911 Aus Waugh S.R 978 27 1653 1036 28.7 1753 Pak Imran Khan 666 34 1516 732 35.5 1619 Slk de Silva P.A 1064 16 1464 1149 18.4 1610 Slk Vaas WPUJC 219 49 1444 237 52.1 1538 Ind Kapil Dev N 669 28 1369 683 29.8 1426 Win Richards I.V.A 1013 10 1263 1131 10.8 1399 Saf Kallis J.H 923 16 1323 975 16.9 1396 Ind Ganguly S.C 1006 10 1256 1061 10.1 1313 Nzl Harris C.Z 431 32 1231 459 32.5 1270 Nzl Styris S.B 767 13 1092 805 13.6 1145 Saf Pollock S.M 279 31 1054 292 33.1 1119 Eng Botham I.T 297 30 1047 310 32.2 1116 Ken Tikolo S.O 724 14 1074 743 14.5 1104 Nzl Cairns C.L 565 18 1015 586 19.1 1062

To view/down-load the complete World Cup related tables, please click on links given below.

Batsmen performance table: please click/right-click here.
Bowler performance table: please click/right-click here.
All-rounder performance table: please click/right-click here.

Finally a list of my own selection of the top-10 batting and bowling performances. Let me repeat that this is my selection, partly based on my own watching/viewing, the analytical results and personal preferences. The reader may have a different list. Question mine by sending your selections. The order in this list is material and reflects my own preferences.

Top-10 Bowling performances in World Cups

Gilmour's 6 for 14 for Aus vs Eng in the 1975 semi final. Bichel's 7 for 20 for Aus vs Eng in 2003. Bond's 6 for 23 for Nzl vs Aus in 2003. Obuya's 5 for 25 for Ken vs Slk in 2003. McGrath's 5 for 14 for Aus vs Win in 1999. Warne's 4 for 29 for Aus vs Saf in the 1999 semi final. Garner's 5 for 38 for Win vs Eng in the 1979 final. Nehra's 6 for 23 for Ind vs Eng in 2003. M Pringle's 4 for 11 for Saf vs Win in 1992. Davis's 7 for 51 for Win vs Aus in 1983. S Pollock's 5 for 36 for Saf vs Aus in 1999 Semi final.

These performances are legend and nothing elaborate needs to be said. Both Gilmour and Bichel had to bat well also in their matches to help Australia win. But for their powerful cameos their own bowling efforts could have gone in vain. Obuya's spell was responsible for Kenya's qualification to the semi-final. But for Warne's spell, South Africa would have walked away with a semi-final win. Garner is the only bowler to have captured 5 wickets in a winning final. Bond's outstanding spell was in vain.

Top-10 Batting performances in World Cups

Kapil Dev's 175 for Ind vs Zim in 1983. de Silva's 107 for Slk vs Aus in the 1996 final. Gilchrist's 149 for Aus vs Slk in the 2007 final. Lara's 111 for Win vs Saf in 1996 quarter final. Richards's 138 for Win vs Eng in the 1979 final. Lloyd's 102 for Win vs Aus in the 1975 final. Gooch's 115 for Eng vs Ind in the 1987 semi final. Inzamam's 60 for Pak vs Nzl in the 1992 semi final. Tendulkar's 98 for Ind vs Pak in 2003. Houghton's 142 for Zim vs Nzl in 1986. Ponting's 140 for Aus vs Ind in 2003 Final (3 votes from readers). Steve Waugh's 120 for Aus vs Saf in 1999 (3 votes from readers). Symonds' 143 for Aus vs Pak in 2003 (3 votes from readers).

Kapil Dev's 175 is the only innings which can even be talked of in the same breath as Richards' 189*. Nothing more needs to be said. There are a number of World Cup final innings in this selection. Gilchrist's 149 is probably the most devastating of all World Cup innings. Gooch swept India away with his 115 while Inzamam announced his extraordinary talent to the world with this match-winning blitz. Houghton's innings was in vain but the memory stays with me since I watched that match on television. Tendulkar's 98 was an innings for the Gods.

Finally a list of the ten greatest upsets in World Cup and a few derivations. This has been prepared using the Team strengths as the basis for comparison. These are given in order of the extent of upset factor. The most emphatic and path-breaking upsets are shown first.

Ireland defeating Pakistan by 3 wkts during 2007 (Mat# 2539).
Kenya defeating Sri Lanka by 53 runs during 2003 (Mat# 1965).
Bangladesh defeating India by 5 wkts during 2007 (Mat# 2538).
Bangladesh defeating Pakistan by 62 runs during 1999 (Mat# 1471).
Zimbabwe defeating Australia by 13 runs during 1983 (Mat# 199).
Bangladesh defeating South Africa by 67 runs during 2007 (Mat# 2564).
Zimbabwe defeating South Africa by 48 runs during 1999 (Mat# 1468).
Kenya defeating West Indies by 73 runs during 1996 (Mat# 1066).
Zimbabwe defeating England by 9 runs during 1992 (Mat# 748).
Zimbabwe defeating India by 3 runs during 1999 (Mat# 1450).
Canada defeating Bangladesh by 60 runs during 2003 (Mat# 1946).

Zimbabwe have effected four such upsets while India and Pakistan have been at the receiving ends in two matches each. Another important feature is that, barring the two most recent ones during 2007, the other 8 have been achieved defending totals successfully. It looks like the stronger teams made a mess of their chases.

Two other matches, the India loss to Sri Lanka during 1979 and Final win over Weset Indies during 1983, both involving India could have made the list but have been omitted since India was awful in 1979 and beginning to be a force in 1983.

Ireland defeated Pakistan on the same day Bangladesh defeated India. Zimbabwe have effected four such upsets while India and Pakistan have lost two such matches each. Another important feature is that, barring the two most recent ones during 2007, the other 8 have been achieved defending totals successfully. It looks like the weaker teams are more adept at defending totals than chasing. Kenya's win over Sri Lanka enabled them to be the surprise semi-finalist during the 2003 World Cup.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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