October 18, 2011

A macro look at ODIs over four decades

A statistical analysis of major batting and bowling trends in ODIs over the years

Adam Gilchrist and several others like him have ensured that quick-scoring has become the norm in ODIs over the last decade © Getty Images

The last 12 articles have all been on Test cricket and I think it is time I moved over to the ODI space. The first is a re-visit of an earlier article. I will follow this with a look at the ODI batsmen's performance against bowlers, strength of whom is ordered by groups, a la Test cricket. That work will borrow freely from the findings in this article.

I had looked at a summary analysis of ODI matches about three years back. Since then over 400 matches have been played, ODI rules have been changed, more T20 matches have been played introducing new techniques, 5 types of slower deliveries have been invented, slow bowlers are opening and finishing the innings et al. Hence I have re-constructed the periods to be able to look at the current millennium more closely. Out of the 7 periods, 3 are allocated to these 12 years. The last period is 2008-2011 and is really the post-T20 era and the previous one, 2004-2007 is the transition period. It is possible that a minor adjustment here and there will bring major rule changes in sync with the periods. However that would leave the number of matches unbalanced.

I have retained, but brought up-to-date, most of the previous analyses since many current readers might not have viewed the previous article. I have kept my comments to a minimum since I want some lively discussions among the readers.

Let us get into the analysis of the tables. These tables are current upto ODI # 3200, the second ODI between Bangladesh and West Indies.

1. Match analysis (Runs/Wkts per match, RpO, RpW)

Period    Mats  R/M  W/M  RpO  RpW

1971-1984 281 352 14.0 3.88 25.2 1985-1989 317 368 13.7 4.11 26.9 1990-1994 369 366 13.6 4.06 26.8 1995-1999 564 394 14.5 4.36 27.2 2000-2003 543 390 14.1 4.40 27.6 2004-2007 586 400 14.3 4.60 27.9 2008-2011 540 407 14.4 4.72 28.2

All ODIs 3200 387 14.2 4.37 27.3

The Wickets per match figures seem to be reasonably steady over the years. There is a 10% increase over the past few years in the Runs per match figures. However the major change is in the RpO figure which has shown a 20% increase over the years. The current RpO figure is about 9% over the all-time average. The RpW figure has increased steadily over the past 25 years. There must be very little doubt that the RpO figure has shown an increase primarily due to the change in treatment of the opening overs and Powerplays.

In fact Sriram has made a pertinent observation that the RpW increase is steady because of the finite number of wickets available to be captured, while making the dramatic speculation that the RpO figure might hit the ceiling because there is no upper limit, barring the number of overs. This did not strike me earlier and makes eminent sense.

2. Match/Inns Analysis (Low & High inns scores)

Period    %I<100  %I-AO %I>300 %M>300x2

1971-1984 7.05 28.11 2.34 0.00 1985-1989 5.59 22.73 0.64 0.00 1990-1994 5.35 25.51 1.91 0.27 1995-1999 1.63 32.86 5.09 1.42 2000-2003 5.44 32.37 6.49 1.66 2004-2007 6.50 31.89 10.46 3.75 2008-2011 3.16 35.61 10.78 3.33

All ODIs 4.61 30.79 6.22 1.81

The % of (all out) innings below 100 seems to have followed a peculiar pattern. The initial years had a very high 1-in-14 occurrence of such 2-digit totals. This then dropped to a very low 1-in-50 during the batting dominated 1990s. However it went up to a high 1-in-16 during the middle-2000s period. Then lo and behold! it drops to just over 3% over the past four years. Why this sudden halving within 8 years. I am unable to explain this 3% figure.

I have also added an analysis on the % of all-out innings, again, as suggested by Sriram. This has grown steadily from 28.1% to 31.9% over 47 years and then a significant jump to 35.6% over the last four years. Again a reflection of the weaker teams and possibly the increase in wicket-taking overs.

The > 300 figure, after being virtually non-existent during the 1980s, has now moved to over 10%. In other words, more than one in every 10 innings is a 300+ innings. The batsmen never had it so good and spare a thought for the bowlers, shackled in every which way. Also of significance is the last column. Once in 30 matches, both teams top 300 in the same match. So the bowlers from both sides suffer.

I am intrigued when I look at the period 2004-2007. A very high <100 figure and an extraordinarily high >300 figure. Maybe it indicates a number of weak teams and a few very strong teams. Possibly the two World Cups, held during 2003 and 2007, might have contributed.

The first match in which both teams exceeded 300 runs occurred during 1992 in the match between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. Since then it has occurred quite frequently, as already mentioned, once in 30 matches.

3. Opening partnerships analysis

Period  OpenAvg OP100+ OPSub10

1971-1984 34.1 6.3% 25.2% 1985-1989 35.6 6.8% 27.5% 1990-1994 36.3 7.8% 26.7% 1995-1999 35.2 6.5% 27.1% 2000-2003 35.2 8.4% 30.2% 2004-2007 33.1 6.7% 31.9% 2008-2011 36.0 7.5% 29.5%

All ODIs 35.0 7.2% 28.8%

Amazingly, the opening partnerships have averaged around 35 over the years with very little variations. Similarly there have been 7% occurrence of 100+ opening partnerships right through the years. It is only in the failed opening partnerships that there has been a significant 20-25% increase during the current decade. This may again be a reflection of the weaker teams.

4. Extras Analysis - per 300 balls (Extras/Byes/Leg Byes/No Balls/Wides)

Period    E/3b B/3b L/3b N/3b W/3b

1971-1984 15.5 1.9 8.2 2.7 2.8 1985-1989 16.8 1.7 8.4 2.4 4.3 1990-1994 17.0 1.1 7.2 2.7 6.0 1995-1999 17.4 0.9 6.2 2.8 7.5 2000-2003 17.8 1.1 5.4 3.5 7.7 2004-2007 18.1 0.9 5.2 3.0 8.9 2008-2011 15.2 1.1 4.6 1.1 8.4

All ODIs 16.9 1.2 6.1 2.6 7.0

This time I have computed the Extra calculations per 300 balls, being a normal completed innings. The Extras per 300 balls, over the years, has remained fairly static. The byes figure has dropped significantly after the first two periods and then remained static. This, despite the keeper standing up to a number of medium pacers. Similarly the Leg byes per match was quite high during the first two periods and then dropped off. One possible reason could be the deployment of more spinners after the initial two periods.

The number of wides per 300 balls has increased drastically over the years certainly because of very strict interpretation of wides by the umpires. It is true that the number of off-side wides has increased significantly over the past few years. Virtually no allowance is also being given for any leg side deviation. The bowlers continue to be hit by the change of rules over the years.

Now we come to No balls. Very interesting indeed. The last four years has seen a drastic drop in No balls per match, from 3 to 1.1 per completed innings. This is not because the bowlers have suddenly become more attentive to where they land. This is primarily caused by the free-hit rule which penalises the bowlers to a great extent. While not accepting that this is necessarily a correct law change, since it penalises an already-beleaguered bowler more, there is no denying that the bowlers are now a lot more careful.

The recent rule changes also means that there are more transgressions covered for declaring No balls, such as short deliveries and deliberate high full tosses. This should have also contributed to a slight increase in No balls.

5. Results Analysis - (Types of wins)

Period    FbtW SbtW OthW NoRes

1971-1984 46.6 48.4 0.4 4.6 1985-1989 43.2 53.6 0.6 2.5 1990-1994 50.1 45.0 0.0 4.9 1995-1999 48.0 47.5 0.2 4.3 2000-2003 49.0 47.5 0.2 3.3 2004-2007 45.7 49.7 0.0 4.6 2008-2011 45.7 49.6 0.0 4.6

All ODIs 47.0 48.7 0.2 4.2

First a summary of the "Other wins" matches. Rounds off the article in case the readers are not aware of these matches.
ODI #   56: Conceded by India against Pakistan as a gesture of protest.
ODI #  435: India defeated Pakistan on the basis of losing fewer wickets.
ODI #  522: Pakistan defeated Australia on the basis of losing fewer wickets.
ODI # 1081: Sri Lanka won by default against India because of Calcutta crowd
disturbances. ODI # 1724: Conceded by England against Pakistan as a sporting gesture.
During three of the periods (90s and early 2000s) the first batting teams won more matches than teams chasing. During the other five periods, more teams have won chasing than defending. Overall also there seems to be an edge to the team batting second. This difference seems to be more pronounced during the past few years. Possibly because of the flexibility in chasing using Power Plays. Currently There is a 4% differential between teams winning batting second and first. Note the huge 10% differential during late-1980s. The number of "No results" has also increased significantly, probably caused by the obsession to play matches during all 12 months, irrespective of weather conditions.

1. Batting average - All positions (Right & Left)

Period    R-Avg L-Avg T-Avg

1971-1984 24.86 26.83 25.29 1985-1989 27.42 24.86 26.96 1990-1994 26.46 27.99 26.85 1995-1999 25.55 31.41 27.22 2000-2003 25.90 31.65 27.64 2004-2007 27.08 30.15 27.91 2008-2011 27.32 31.30 28.20

All ODIs 26.43 30.03 27.35

1. Batting average - Only first 7 (Right & Left)
Period    R-Avg L-Avg T-Avg

1971-1984 28.29 28.34 28.30 1985-1989 30.50 27.34 29.93 1990-1994 30.46 29.73 30.25 1995-1999 29.35 33.55 30.67 2000-2003 29.56 33.98 31.00 2004-2007 30.69 32.59 31.23 2008-2011 31.18 34.28 31.91

All ODIs 30.11 32.32 30.71

For Batting average, I have taken the top 7 batting positions only. This is to minimize the impact of the low averages of the late order batsmen. Barring the first period, the batting average seems to have settled into a value of around of 30. The left handers seem to have an increased average (by a margin of 7.5%), barring the first 24 years. Note also the very high left hander average during the most recent period. I remember a lively debate on this interesting phenomenon three years back. Let us get some new insights now. Incidentally this follows a similar trend for Test matches.

2. Batting strike rate (Right & Left)

Period    R-SR L-SR T-SR

1971-1984 63.8 64.0 63.9 1985-1989 68.3 64.4 67.7 1990-1994 66.8 67.1 66.9 1995-1999 70.9 73.5 71.7 2000-2003 71.3 75.2 72.6 2004-2007 75.9 75.7 75.9 2008-2011 78.0 80.0 78.5

All ODIs 71.6 73.2 72.0

1-7 Period R-SR L-SR T-SR

1971-1984 64.3 64.0 64.2 1985-1989 68.2 63.9 67.4 1990-1994 66.8 67.3 66.9 1995-1999 71.5 73.5 72.1 2000-2003 72.0 75.5 73.2 2004-2007 76.3 75.8 76.1 2008-2011 78.6 80.1 79.0

All ODIs 71.9 73.2 72.3

The Batting strike rate shows almost no change whether we take 7 batsmen or all 11. The late order seem to swing the bat as well, just that they get out more often. The scoring rate was quite low during the first three periods and has now picked up to be around the 76 mark. There is a significant variation of around 20% over the years. Look at the last four years. The strike rate has shown a significant jump of about 5%. Maybe due to the influence of T20s or the laws which keep on favouring batsmen or shorter boundaries. Barring one period, the left handers seem to be scoring slightly faster than the right handers.

3. Bowling average (Pace & Spin)

Period    P-Avg S-Avg T-Avg

1971-1984 27.62 33.60 28.66 1985-1989 30.88 35.47 32.09 1990-1994 30.84 36.23 32.23 1995-1999 31.45 35.01 32.67 2000-2003 30.92 35.61 32.24 2004-2007 31.61 35.20 32.47 2008-2011 31.77 33.14 32.24

All ODIs 30.94 34.83 32.03

The bowling average follows the same pattern as batting strike rate. Quite low during the first period and then plateauing around 31 during the next five periods.

As expected the pace bowler averages are lower by just over 10% as compared to the spin bowler averages. The last period, however, has seen a narrowing of this gap. The trend of depending on spinners has also picked up as teams like Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe et al seem to have spin-centric attacks.

4. Bowling strike rate (Pace & Spin)

Period    P-SR S-SR T-SR

1971-1984 43.1 49.1 44.2 1985-1989 43.9 49.7 45.4 1990-1994 44.1 50.1 45.6 1995-1999 41.4 46.1 43.0 2000-2003 39.8 47.0 41.8 2004-2007 38.6 45.6 40.3 2008-2011 38.0 41.9 39.3

All ODIs 40.7 46.2 42.3

Surprisingly there seems to be a distinct improvement of bowler strike rates during the past few years. Again one cannot but point to the number of weak teams playing one-day cricket. The pace strike rates seem to be about 15% better than the spin strike rates. Recently the spinners seem to be striking better. No doubt aided by Ajantha Mendis taking 48 wickets in his first 17 matches at a strike rate of 16 balls (yes, you read it right, 16).

5. Bowling RPO (Pace & Spin)

Period    PRpo SRpo TRpo %Pce %Spn

1971-1984 3.84 4.10 3.89 80.6 19.4 1985-1989 4.22 4.29 4.24 71.1 28.9 1990-1994 4.20 4.34 4.24 71.7 28.3 1995-1999 4.56 4.56 4.56 63.3 36.7 2000-2003 4.67 4.54 4.63 68.3 31.7 2004-2007 4.91 4.63 4.83 72.7 27.3 2008-2011 5.01 4.74 4.92 63.6 36.4

All ODIs 4.56 4.53 4.55 69.2 30.8

The RpO seems to have increased by about 5% during the recent years. Not a very big change. The surprise is that the all-matches RpO figures for the pace bowlers and spinners are almost the same.

S Rajesh has suggested that I add the % of overs bowled by pace bowlers and spinners also. An excellent suggestion and I have hastened to do so. During the initial few years over 80% of the overs were bowled by pace bowlers. This % has come down over the years and now the pace bowler % stands at 63.6, well below two-third. A very significant change indeed.

6. Bowling analysis (Maidens - Pace & Spin)

Period    PMdns SMdns TMdns

1971-1984 10.82 7.08 10.10 1985-1989 7.97 4.99 7.11 1990-1994 7.82 3.74 6.66 1995-1999 6.34 3.55 5.32 2000-2003 6.88 4.07 5.99 2004-2007 6.77 3.77 5.95 2008-2011 5.53 4.31 5.09

All ODIs 7.21 4.18 6.28

In the early years the maidens % was around 10, say 5 in each innings. It has now dropped to half that figure. Perfectly understandable in view of the reluctance of batsmen to allow 6 consecutive dot balls. The surprise is the increase in % for spinners over the past 4 years. That they exercise better control now, while opening the bowling and bowling at the death, is indeed commendable.

To download the complete tables including actual values, please right-click here and save the file. This link may be experiencing some temporary problems.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on November 1, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    However, if there are a set of rules that warrant creativity of on-field strategies, it would benefit the health of the game by and large . . .

    - Let us say the PP is altered in a way that only 2 fielders should be allowed outside the circle but does not pose restrictions on how the fielders within the circle needs to be placed, then the captain can creatively use the quota and place fields. - And the rule of not having more than 3 on the leg side - why? Let a slow left armer bowl a negative line and let batsmen find ways of whacking him out of the park like SRT did for Warne in '98. By bowling a negative line, what is wrong? After all the batsman is out of his comfort zone.

    I agree with Shrikanth for the variety - size of grounds. That adds to spice. But it would be good to have a min size - 80m. Kotla is 70 and MCG is 100. Let there be 100 but let there be no 70's.Let there be a minimum size to which boundaries have to be just like there is a standard size for pitch.

  • testli5504537 on November 1, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    The PP is good but at times, it appears like its a change for the sake of change. Most good batsmen are strokeplayers+accumulators (so called big hitters are also excellent judges of runs). Like the super sub rule, team composition determines the exploitation of power play overs. It may benefit India which has decent strokeplayers at every alternate spot(Sehwag,Raina,Yuvraj,Pathan) interspersed with steady players who can explode later(Gambhir, Kohli,Dhoni). However countries like Oz, Eng may not take PP well as their strokeplayers come upfront & Later and not in the middle(Watson,K'wetter,KP,White). Team compositions would determine the way the rule is being handled. However, Ind was the lone country to struggle with super sub as at that time, we didnt have the bits&Pieces players like Pathan, Jadeja who could either bowl or bat or do both. These rules dont affect the creativity of on field strategy but these rules impact team composition.

  • testli5504537 on November 1, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    One day teams are looking a good bit different than test teams. Look at Raina, Yuvraj, Keiron Powell, etc. I can barely recognize the English one-day team. Too much cricket is taxing fitness. The test players are the real superstars, but since they dont play as consistently in one-days, apart from big comeptitions, one-day cricket lacks the player star crowd-pulling power. Among the lost list of problems one day cricket suffers from, this is one more. Can be easily rectified by pruning the calendar a bit.

  • testli5504537 on October 31, 2011, 11:56 GMT


    Powerplay is an interesting problem in ODIs. If you see ODIs in 70s and in early 80s, the field settings were similar to tests. No easy singles but more open spaces which could be leveraged only by aggressive batsmen like Viv which was not the prevalent style then. To my memory,Gavaskar introduced Sweepers in the deep during '85 world championships which protected boundaries, cutting out advantags of players like Viv, but brought out expertise of running between wickets from players like Dean Jones. We knew what happened in 92 WC with aggressive openers. If we remove field restrictions, will captains of today have attacking field? Will they be protecting boundaries?I think SRT epitomised the transtition from Viv's style to Dean jones' style with the evolving field restrictions. Can many players combine Stroke play and accumulation?In recent times, whenever PP was introduced, there was a higher instance of more wickets falling. Will the captains attach without PP compulsion? [[ Since I am working on a suggestion that the formats change every uyear, see one of my earlier mails, we could easilty look at one of the years, maybe the "only bi-lateral tours" years when we can completely remove PPs and/or Fldrests and try out. It should be very interesting and thought-provokling to do that and analyze what happened. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on October 31, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    The 10 game stretch on the trot betw Eng & Ind is indeed food for thought. Return tours should be only scheduled at least one year hence.This year, Ind would have played only between WI and Eng - 10 Tests & 15 ODIs which is heights of monotony. Triangular tournaments involving all combinations can be planned instead. So over 4 years, a country would have played ODIs against all 9 senior countries and at least 2 of 3 associate nations. Likewise for the rest of the countries. [[ I am working on a White Paper on the ODI game and these all would be used. Ananth: ]]

    I think we should stop restrictions on field setting and over limits. Why cant Swann have 7 leg side fielders? Why cant Steyn bowl 2 bouncers? At this rate, they might say any ball more than 145Kmph might be no ball!! Spectators like close matches and not necessarily high scoring ones. Last ball 6 is better than all ball 6! Only when the contests are even, do we get close interesting matches. [[ Radical thoughts. But make sense. I have always wondered why there are field restrictions at all. Let a bowler keep 4 close and 5 outside throughout. Let the batsmen improvise. They could take many singles/twos. Once in a while hit a four/six. Let the batsmen also not have everything handed over to them. Now the only salvation for bowlers is a dicey wicket. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on October 29, 2011, 3:21 GMT

    Decent sized grounds to make batsmen earn their 6's...and no 'mindless 7 game blocks' that irritate everyone incl. the players.

    Maybe cricket can do with a more standardised calendar. But this holds for all formats - not just ODI cricket.

    Re "decent sized grounds": Well, the beauty of cricket lies in the variation in playing conditions across the world. Hitting a six at Lord's will always be much easier than hitting a six at the MCG. The one thing that can be done is an agreement not to shorten boundaries significantly on any ground.

    Re 7-game series : No game is irritating or irrelevant. Even the recent 5-match Ind vs Eng series has given everyone food for thought. It has given England a much needed bout of introspection at the end of a fantastic year. It has raised India's spirits after an ill-fated, unfortunate English tour. It has set back a few players (Bresnan, Bairstow, Swann), and it has boosted a few others (Finn, Jadeja, Patel).

    Food for thought all around

  • testli5504537 on October 29, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    The discussion is not if Test format is the best, but what can be done to revive ODI's perceived to be going off people's radar

    But it is not going off anybody's radar!!!! The ODI still remains arguably the most popular and widely followed of the three formats of the game. The World Cup is still BY FAR the most widely followed cricket tournament in the whole wide world. Only a few months back, we finished a World Cup that was widely perceived as one of the most popular EVER.

    So, the question of reviving it simply does not arise!! Why would anyone want to "revive" and hearty and healthy man? I'm amazed that there's so much needless sentiment about the One-day game out here. Yet, nobody seems to bother about the sorry state of Test cricket which needs extremely urgent addressing! [[ The alarm bells should ring when India played England in 10 conseautive ODIs and at one point in future, India would have played 20 matches, 10 against West Indies and 10 against England. And couple of years back India played Sri Lanka for 265 days in the year. We are talking of awful scheduling, lack of spectator/follower interest and meaningless and completely worthless matches. I am not saying the same of the wonderful concise, competitive and exciting 3-mach series played between the top two teams last week. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on October 28, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    ODI's need to be relevant outside the WC. Like someone has suggested a world league each year (or maybe 2 yrs) say the test nations + 4 extras. Each team to play home and away in 3 game blocks. No power plays or fancy stuff. Just fielding restrictions first 20 overs. Two bowlers allowed 12 overs. Decent sized grounds to make batsmen earn their 6's. Main thing is to make games relevant hence 'competative league' and no 'mindless 7 game blocks' that irritate everyone incl. the players. [[ Most of your suggestions are well-founded and will form the basis of my white paper. Ananth: ]]

  • testli5504537 on October 27, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    Somehow the discussion kept going to topics outside the scope like flat pitches, etc. Reg flat pitches, et al, just like we enjoy a good batsman scoring runs on a green top, a good bowler should be able to take wkts on a flat track. McGrath was successful in Ind and so was Steyn. And McGrath bowled at 70% of Steyn's pace. In fact, over the years, SAF had been one team which held India by the scruff of its neck even in India, with its flat pitches and SAF being seamer focussed. So not just pace, skills do count in. Any team is strong at home,even Zim & Ban are tough to beat @ Harare & Dhaka. In the recent series, Eng struggled to score runs in India. If the pitch was flat, Eng would have still lost, but should have amassed 300+ consistently, which it didn't. So skills still count in.

    The discussion is not if Test format is the best, but what can be done to revive ODI's perceived to be going off people's radar . . . (cotd)

  • testli5504537 on October 23, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    Hey Shri, Meety called you matey. That's a mighty effort!

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