February 13, 2012

ODIs during 2011: an alternate look

Anantha Narayanan
Pakistan had the best success percentage in 2011 winning 75% of their matches  © AFP

This follows the review of the 2011 Tests. This will mostly be on Teams and important measures during the year, the 5-years before 2011 and the 40 years before. I will not do any individual innings listings since people immediately come out with objections and we lose the thread. All of us get side-tracked.

First a single paragraph each on the batting, bowling and team performances of 2011.

The historic innings of the year was Virender Sehwag's 219. After all, a world record score was overtaken. If Sehwag had played on till the end of innings, maybe 250 would have been crossed. The most powerful batting display was by Shane Watson during his 185 (in 96 balls) against Bangladesh. 150 runs in boundaries tells the story. If Bangladesh had scored another 30 runs he would have been the batsman to overtake Sachin Tendulkar. The most significant innings of the year was Gautam Gambhir's 97. Without that there was no win for India. MS Dhoni played an equally important innings but Gambhir's was more significant. 31 for 2 was a potentially losing situation while 114 for 3 was at least on an even keel. The poignant innings of the year were the two centuries by two great batsmen in their last World Cup matches. That they both lost the battle to India's fighting skills adds to the poignancy. I refer to Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jayawardene.

This was not a great year for bowling performances. Probably the most significant was Wahab Riaz's five wicket haul in the WC semi-final. Four of these were those of top order batsmen. He did his task admirably but his batsmen let him down. An equally good performance was that of Woakes who captured 6 wickets against Australia. The only Indian bowler to capture 5 wickets was Yuvraj Singh, remembering to say our prayers for his speedy recovery and to wear the blue jersey again, against Ireland: an important effort in a tight match. However the bowler of the year was Shahid Afridi who had four 5-wicket hauls, followed by Lasith Malinga, with three.

In my anxiety to do as little of individual performances as possible, I missed, inarguably, the individual performance of the year. It required Boll, an Australian, to point out this lapse. My apologies to Yuvraj and all his supporters. I had referred to him only in passing re the 5-wkt haul against Ireland. Yuvraj's 350+ runs and 15 wickets during the World Cup was the most outstabding individual performance of the year and couple of years before and possibly after. Thanks, Boll.

The above are partly subjective and the readers are welcome to come out with their significant performances.

India were the deserving WC winners. They were the most resilient and balanced of all teams. In all three knock-out matches there were many moments when they looked like slipping but the hour cometh and the men cometh. Almost all the players contributed. That week in spring, India was the team and held their nerve to win a deserved WC. The rest of the year was not so great but the WC win was very well-earned. India had done this on-the-brink performances three times during 2011, chronicled elsewhere. As readers are aware of, I am the last person to blindly support India, but deserved credit must be given whole-heartedly where it is due, for the very significant performances during those six weeks in 2011.

As single matches go, the Sri Lankan demolition of England by 10 wickets in the WC quarter-final and Australia's blitz, led by Watson, at 8-plus runs per over against Bangladesh were the most devastating of the year. As far as the match of the year is concerned there were a few 300s chased comfortably, 200s chased with difficulty, sub-200 totals defended and so on. However the match of the year has to be Ireland's brave and successful chase of England's 300-plus total. Thinking of this match, looks like the collective brains of the IPL franchisees were left behind outside the hotel. How else can anyone explain no one picking up Kevin O'Brien for 50000 dollars?

1. A look at performance of teams during 2011 (with and without weight for WC)

TeamODIsWonNRLostMaxPtsTeam PtsPerformance %WCPtsPerf % (incl WC)
South Africa159063017.658.7%162.0%
New Zealand179173419.055.9%261.8%
Sri Lanka28142125628.851.4%560.4%
West Indies28101175621.037.5%139.3%

This is the traditional 2-1-0 method of evaluating team performance. I have done this to provide a complete analysis. There is no weight for WC matches in the first analysis segment. I have used the 2-1-0 values for the neutral matches and weighed the home matches down by 10% and the away matches upwards by 10%. The relative strengths of the teams is not taken into account since the complexity is not worth it. If I were to do a complete Team Ratings work then the team strengths will come into the equation.

Pakistan were the best team by a mile, with a performance measure of 81.3%. They had a great year despite playing ALL their matches away from home. They compiled an excellent record of 75% wins. Australia were nearly as good, winning 18 of their 25 matches. Their performance measure was a very creditable 74.8%. India were just about average, clocking in at 63.5%. A quixotic scheduling meant that India played their last 20 matches against West Indies and England compiling a not-so-great 12-2-6 record. South Africa was below average with 58.7%. New Zealand and Sri Lanka got a 50-plus value. England and West Indies were below-par, clocking at below 50%.

The additional evaluation is the more relevant table in that the World Cup results are incorporated. After all the World Cup is a quadrennial event and is the most important event in cricketing calendar. World Cup wins have to be recognized. I have used a simple methodology. I have added 10/5/2/1 points respectively to the winner/runner-up/losing semi-finalists/losing quarter-finalists. This seems very fair and recognizes the importance of World Cup performances. May be subjective, but no one should have any complaints. Anyhow if a reader wants, he can put in his own weight for the World Cup and re-do the tables. India's win, and the 10 points they secured, pushed them into the second place, ahead of Australia. Pakistan's overall performance was so good that they managed to retain their top place. On balance, I would place Pakistan and India as the teams of the year. Pakistan had a great year and India won the World Cup. How I wish these two teams revive their wonderful rivalry: if required, on the desert grounds, hopefully with an aura of brotherhood than acrimony (Sriram's words).

Now for a series of tables analysing key figures for the teams. This would give us a good insight into why certain teams performed very well. Remember that Pakistan, India and Australia are the top three teams. Sri Lanka, despite their WC Final, had a very indifferent year. First a composite table looking at RpO (Runs per Over), RpW (Runs per Wicket) and BpW (Balls per Wicket) values.

2. Comparisons of own and other teams' RpO, RpW and BpW

TeamRpO  RpW  BpW  
New Zealand5.464.990.4738.
Sri Lanka5.044.830.2131.427.34.233.837.43.6
West Indies4.844.98-0.1428.730.9-
Below 10 ODIs         

First the RpO values. I have considered this as more important than the RpW and BpW figures since this is what ultimately leads to an ODI win. The table is ordered on the RpO differential. Australia leads the table with a healthy RpO differential of 0.56. This has led to their excellent 75% performance. New Zealand were next with 0.47. Their overall numbers are quite good and it is surprising that they do not have better results. Pakistan has a slightly lower RpO differential of 0.37. However it must be noted that this figure is on somewhat lower RpO values, they having played many matches with lower average scores. Their differential is 7.6% as against New Zealand's 8.6%. India has a RpO differential of 0.34. Sri Lanka and Ireland have the same RpO differential of 0.21, indicating the great year Ireland had. As expected England and West Indies have negative RpO differentials.

The other comparison I have made is between own RpW and RpW. The RpW differentials show similar weights as the RpO differentials. New Zealand leads with a differential of 11.6 and Australia and Pakistan follow with 9.6 and 7.3 respectively. This is repeated in the BpW figures. New Zealand again leads with 9.3 and Australia and Pakistan follow with 7.0 and 6.6.

3. Analysis of boundaries hit

TeamODIsTeam Runs4s hit4s/match6s hit6s/match4s6s %
West Indies28601744115.81475.244.00%
New Zealand17369129817.5724.244.00%
Sri Lanka28609653819.2521.940.40%
South Africa15363428018.7372.536.90%
Below 10 ODIs       

This is an analysis of the boundaries hit by teams during 2011. At the end I have compared all these key measures for the year 2011, the previous decade and the 40-year period. Those values can be compare to these. This table is ordered by boundaries as % of team runs.

We are again in for a surprise. Ireland leads the table having hit 47.6% of their team runs in boundaries. The second is another surprise. Zimbabwe clocks with 45.3%. The surprises continue with West Indies and New Zealand at 44.0% and Canada with 43.7%. Then come the big guns. Australia has cored 43.7% and India and Pakistan have both got above 40%. What is South Africa doing at the lower reaches of the table at 36.9%.

There are two other minor measures. The fours per match and sixes per match. India leads the fours measure with 21.7 and Ireland closely follows with 21.1 and Zimbabwe with 20.6. These are the only teams clocking above 20. West Indies lead the sixes column with 5.7 per match. They, led by Gayle, Pollard and Russell crossed the ropes a huge 147 times. New Zealand and Ireland follow next with 4.2 and 4.1. Sri Lanka's lack of heavy hitters is shown by the relatively low 1.9 per match.

4. Analysis of Extras conceded and Maidens bowled

TeamODIsVsRunsExtrasExtras/300ballsOversMaidensMaidens %
New Zealand17360112710.6721.5324.43%
South Africa15282510411.0619.0315.01%
West Indies28571321211.11148.2443.83%
Sri Lanka28553221711.81145.1585.06%
Below 10 ODIs       

This is an analysis of the teams' performances on field. Two measures have been analyzed. The first is a look at the extras conceded by the team. To be consistent with the overall summary analysis, I have determined the number of Extras conceded by the team per 300 balls, the expected innings size. India has shown that they are the most disciplined bowling attack and wicket-keeping competency with a low Extras per 300 balls of 8.5. Then come a series of lower-tiered teams with Extras per 300 balls values of 10 or less. The lower half of the teams has the more fancied teams. The last two places are occupied by Australia and Pakistan, with 13.7 and 15.6 extras per 300 balls. Pakistan's lack of discipline might very well be intentional. Readers would remember the instructions Imran gave to Wasim Akram in 1992. Go for the wickets: don't bother about the extras.

On the right hand side of the table I have the maidens bowled and what % these comprise out of the overs bowled by the team. Pakistan is the leader with 6.57% of their overs as maidens: worked out an average of more than 3 maidens per match. Bangladesh, with their accurate spinners, come in next with 5.5%. Sri Lanka, with a similar bowling combination, is next with around 5.1%. South Africa has a maidens % above 5. Amongst the top teams, Australia has the lowest maidens % of 3.16%. Maybe their attacking field placements or the pace-dominant attacks.

5. An analysis of wins achieved by Teams during 2011

TeamWins in 2011VeryCloseClose winsEasy winsHuge wins Batting firstChasing
Pakistan2425141 1113
India2132142 813
Australia1812140 810
Sri Lanka140174 86
England111531 65
West Indies101142 55
South Africa90144 72
New Zealand90131 45
Zimbabwe62112 33
Bangladesh62040 24
Ireland40121 22
Netherlands21100 02
Canada10010 01
Below 10 ODIs        
Kenya00000 00
Scotland20120 12
Afghanistan21100 11

This table analyses the wins achieved by the teams. The table is ordered by the number of wins. First the split between wins batting first and chasing. Both Pakistan and India have chased 13 times successfully, although this is higher proportion of India's 21 wins, as against Pakistan's 24. South Africa, probably with their excellent bowling attack, have successfully defended nearly 80% of the times. Australia have been equally successful whether they were defending or chasing.

The last section is an analysis of the wins by the type of wins. There are four classifications: Very Close, Close, Easy and Thumping. India has had 3 very close wins. The one-run win over South Africa, two-wicket win over South Africa and one-wicket win over West Indies. Sri Lanka and South Africa have won four of their matches by a mile.

6. A few important measures compared

Runs per over4.754.654.37
Runs per wicket28.227.927.4
Balls per wicket35.636.037.6
4s per match36.437.335.4
6s per match6.095.864.95
Boundary runs as %43.045.643.0
% Inns >= 3005.410.26.7
% Inns <= 1002.83.43.8
Opening Ptshp Avge35.036.935.0
% OP >= 1008.77.07.2
% OP <= 10 31.131.628.8
Extras/300 balls14.916.516.9

Now for a look at various measures for 2011, the preceding five years and the 41 year period.

The Runs per Over values for 2011 are almost the same as the previous five years and slightly above the historic levels. With the way the laws are formed against the bowlers it is a miracle that the average RpO has reached 5.0.

The three Runs per Wicket numbers are almost comparable. The differences are very minimal.

The Balls per Wicket are the same as for the previous five years and are slightly lower than the historic figure.

The 4s per match and 6s per match both showed a marginal decrease/increase from the previous half-decade. Similarly the Boundary % of runs showed a slight decline. It looks as if the trend set during the later half of the 2000s decade will be maintained.

There is a slight increase in 300-plus innings, just above 11%, to previous half-decade and significant increase to the overall figure. I get the feeling we have now settled into a once in 9/10 innings situation. Also 6 of these 300-plus innings were chased down and one equalled (India-England). Surprisingly there is a significant increase in the sub-100 innings. And let me also say that not all these have been the so called minnows. Experienced teams are caught in situations, out of the blue and get dismissed for below 100.

The Opening partnerships in Tests showed a 20% drop from the previous decade and overall figures. Surprisingly the opening partnerships in ODIs seems to have maintained an upward trend: 36.9 against 34.3 for 2006-2010. I guess the runs keep coming because of the attacking fields. The sub-10 opening partnerships are almost at static levels. There has also been a steady increase in the 100-plus opening partnerships. A strong reason could be the Powerplay rule changes.

There was a continuing drop in the Extras per 300 balls from 16.9 to 14.9. As I have already mentioned this must be due to the severe handling of No balls. The No-balls incidence has gone down from 1.9 to 0.9. The other three forms of extras are very slightly down.

Over the next month or so I intend to compile all the reader ideas submitted and come out with a blueprint for the ODI game. Let me see if I can persuade ESPNcricinfo to forward the same to ICC. Surely the ODI game cannot survive in this bloated format.

Anand has pointed to a gem. India were at the receiving end of four 5-wkt hauls during the World Cup 2011. I have checked this out, but this could very well be a record in a WC. The bowlers were Wahab Riaz, Rampaul, Steyn and Bresnan. He has also suggested Steyn's 5-wkt haul as a memorable bowling performance.


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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Posted by Akash on (March 23, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

a lot of credit should be given to the Pakistani bowlers for their brilliant bowling performance. Saeed ajmal was the star of the team. he has always performed when needed and some useful batting contributions by senior players like younis khan and misbah-ul-haq. shahid afridi we all know how dangerous player he is! his bolwing has been the talk of the town.

Posted by Tony on (February 18, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

True, bilateral series of more than 3 matches is boring. The current triangular series in Aus is a welcome break for Indians, but having 8 league matches is outrageuos. It would have been nice even if it is Ireland / Afghan to spice up with 4 teams single/double round robin. But thats not very pleasing for Australians to watch Ireland and SL play a match in their city.

But bigger problem is matches must be watchable in a working day and the next day the viewer will have to get back to work.

So triangular / quad T20 will be even more crowd pulling, and that's the way forward, whether one likes it or not. Thats also where affiliate nations can get their share of limelight.

Posted by Krishnakumar on (February 17, 2012, 11:03 GMT)

Ananth, (In short:Request for an analysis on the best finishers of ODI match)

This comment of mine is not totally relevant to this article. I am fascinated by all your in depth analysis and I also truly enjoy reading your comments. I haven't noted your email address and hence I am asking my request here.

This week we saw Dhoni finish two matches with his own bat and also an interesting comment by Gambhir that Dhoni could have finised better ! Irrespective of that Dhoni has now established himself as one of the best finisher of an ODI.

When I grew up I knew if Inzamam crosses 20 he makes sure he finishes and runrate doesnt matter. Then we saw Michel Beven establish himself and then Lance Kluzner got crazy winning matches from improbable situations. We saw Moin Khan and Steve Waugh do it lot of times , and then Mike Hussey. There there is the master BC Lara.

So I think it would be interesting if you could come up with an analysis on some of the best finishers of ODI matches. [[ Just now an article in Cricinfo analyzes no.6 position. I will do later a wider analysis of the finishers. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Nitin Gautam on (February 16, 2012, 6:44 GMT)


Can you provide the links to your other blogs which are published other than in cricinfo. including the ratings that you do & top 100 players/bowling performance/batting performance.

Thanks Nitin [[ As of now only Ananth: ]]

Posted by Rajesh Rao on (February 16, 2012, 1:19 GMT)

An analysis under different coaches would be quite handy. All the teams changed their coaches, captains etc. The WC winning team is not the same team that is playing today. Pakistan without Afridi is a different team. Australia has changed for better with their new coach. SL has been rotating coaches and captains. England have improved under Flower.

Love to see the effect on team psychic due to political interference. The coach and caps contribution was immense during the world cup. India and Pakistan were a different team while Australia was dwindling. [[ Rajesh, I am quite unclear about the impact of coaches. I personally feel the contribution of a coach is no more than 10%. The other 90% is the team + selection etc. Neither should we give too much credit for Kirsten for the WC win nor should we chastize Fletcher for the Eng/Aus debacles. What would Kirsten have done if Sangakkara had continued Malinga for one more over at 31 for 2 and he had dismissed Gambhir or kept a slip when he brought Malinga back at 100 for 2 and Gambhir's nick was caught. I think the players matter in these situations and the players delivered for India. Ananth: ]]

Posted by milpand on (February 16, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

Result of every ODI is used to determine the rankings. Each side plays variable number of matches and hence the rankings use a formula not understood by followers.

By using results of a fixed number of ODIs between test nations to build a home/away/neutral league table over a multi-year calendar, an alternate ranking can be created so that not only the matches but size of victory will also be relevant and easily understood by followers.

Number of runs scored varies significantly so the tie-breaker for teams with equal number of points should be based on margin of victory by number of balls instead of Net Run Rate. [[ In fact I am yet to do my Match Index (the one I came out for Tests after the England tour, the 100 point allocation) work fior ODIs. That can be used. That is also very easy for anyone to determine. Ananth: ]]

Posted by milpand on (February 15, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

I do not follow many cricket writers/columnists so it is likely that I have missed others who do, but other than Ananth, only Mike Atherton seems to join/reply readers in the comments underneath. I started reading his column only after he took over as Chief Cricket Correspondent from Christopher Martin-Jenkins for The Times (UK). He is one of the very few Times columnists (Cricket or otherwise) who, despite writing for print media, gets involved with the online community. [[ Mike is 20+ years younger than me and it is great that he finds time to read and reply. I personally feel that the reader-interaction is the one thing that keeps me going, I also do another blog where I have negligible reader participation and I do single-themed articles because of my commitment to them, that is all. Ananth: ]]

Posted by milpand on (February 15, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

Test matches should favour batsmen slightly for a contest between reasonably balanced sides to last 4 out of scheduled 5 days. In the long format 3-4 good bowlers share bulk of the load to take 20 wickets.

Rules for a limited overs match should favour bowlers where a result is guaranteed at the end of scheduled overs. Players with limited skills make a career in such formats because at least 5 bowlers are involved so better bowlers are respected to target weak links.

Any number of bowlers should be allowed any number of overs in a format where the objective is to outscore the opposition within limited time with no restriction on taking or loosing specified number of wickets. [[ This is a variation of the 12 overs for 2 bowlers theme. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Ranbir Raju on (February 15, 2012, 22:16 GMT)

You have not taken into account strength of the opposition; playing 10 matches against australia is not same as playing 10 matches against Kenya. Instead of going on a rage about Indians not giving credit to others etc. (I think you deliberately like to be provocative and perhaps attract more comments) why not simply accept the fact that your approach ignores basic tenets of a real analysis. [[ It amuses me a lot to see readers clutching at straws to prove some point or other. And let us not forget this is an article in which I have given India due credit without any watering down. Earlier a reader complained and said Pakistan played associates half the time. I pointed out the facts which are quite the opposite. Now the team strength comes in. Well, Mr.Ranbir, you will be disappointed. During the year, India played a weak West indian team 11 times, a somewhat off-colour England 11 times, Ireland once, Holland once, Bangladesh once. They played a tough South Africa 6 times, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka once each. Incidentally Pakistan played Kenya once and India played Australia once. I can assure you Team Strength analysis would not help. But let me emphasize India had a wonderful year, especially winning the WC and Pakistan had a different sort of year, playing all 32 matches away from home, and doing very well. The bottomline is that you can appreciate your own team meaningfully only if you can appreciate the other team also. Otherwise you will only have a hollow appreciation. I sincerely feel that this blog is not the place for you. There are hundreds of other blogs which would echo your sentiments. One final thing. In the past three months you have sent four mails in a similar manner, with vague accusations, under different names. I am sure there must be better things to do in Seattle. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Sudarshan on (February 15, 2012, 12:12 GMT)

This is not directly related to the topic on hand but still I want to try. While reading your very interesting and lengthy blog, whenever I click or highlight with the mouse somewhere on the page (just for emphasis for myself out of habit) I am taken all the way to the top and have to scroll down again. Is it a browser issue (I am using IE 6) or is it the same for everyone. This happens with other cricinfo articles as well. This was not the case until a few months ago if I recollect correctly. I have already reported it to cricinfo but have not received any reply from them. I feel you may be in a better position to take up the matter with them. Any comments on this from other readers? [[ I think it is high time you change your browser. The IE6 is over 7 years old and Cricinfo's technical people might not even have the same installed for testing. I suggest download and install IE9 or Firefox or Chrome, all free and wonderful browsers. i have all three and run the aricles in all browsers but do not go back to the older ones. There is even a leaner Firefox Portable available. Ananth: ]]

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Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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