April 4, 2015

Over 50 nuggets from World Cup 2015

Uncommon yet relevant numbers from the 2015 World Cup, and another Bradman memorabilia

Bangladesh were the most disciplined bowling team in the World Cup: they bowled the least wides and no-balls Saeed Khan / © AFP

The 2015 World Cup has been analysed at different levels by a number of excellent analysts. Many writers have penned tongue-in-cheek humorous articles. I decided that I will do my concluding piece on the World Cup in a manner somewhere in between: Lot of analysis, part anecdotal, part whimsical, and part Andy Zaltzman. Stay off the oft-presented tables but present meaningful facts through specific analysis. I am confident that you would not have seen over 90% of the facts presented here. I am also hopeful that you will get a lot more insights and that these numbers will enable you to get a better understanding on what transpired over the past six-weeks. The bottom line is to have fun. Trivia these might be, but I hope, meaningful trivia. These are presented in groups. I have also stayed away from tables. There are very few references to individual achievements, which get chronicled often.

1. Batting Averages - Teams

  • The batting average is determined using the runs scored and wickets lost. South Africa had the highest Batting average. They scored 51.0 runs per wicket. India averaged 46.0 and Australia was next with an average of 42.1. This lends credence to the fact that it was Australian bowling that made the day(s) for them.
  • It is not a surprise that Afghanistan had the lowest batting average, with 18.6 runs. England's travails in the World Cup are demonstrated by the fact that their average, at 29.5, was below that of Zimbabwe, Ireland and Bangladesh.

2. Batting Strike Rates - Teams

  • South Africa scored at an extraordinary rate of 114.2 during the World Cup. Australia were just a fraction behind, at 113.8.
  • Afghanistan scored at 66. This is 1983-esque. They did not have even one attacking batsman. On the other hand, Pakistan's strike rate was only 80.6, despite the attacking options available.

3. Batting Wkts per match - Teams

  • India lost only 5.4 wickets per match. They won their matches quite comfortably with lots of resources to spare. South Africa lost 5.9 wickets per match. This is amazing considering they lost 20 wickets in two of the losing matches. We are already starting to get a handle on the inability of South Africa to progress further. It is their bowling that seems to have let them down. Let us look at this later.
  • Scotland lost an average of 9.7 wickets per match. Almost a perfect 10.

4. Batting Boundary percentages - Teams

  • This refers to the boundaries scored. These percentage values do not have a great spread. New Zealand scored 56.9% of their team runs in boundaries. This is as expected. Brendon McCullum at the top was scoring at will in boundaries. West Indies follow closely with 56.2%. However I must admit that these two teams benefited greatly by the two double-hundreds, with very high share in boundaries.
  • It is extraordinary that Pakistan have the lowest boundary percentage. They scored only 41.2% of their team runs in boundaries. Afghanistan's figure is 44.3% and UAE's figure is 45.0%. How does this happen? Very conservative batting by the top order and a string of 20s by Shahid Afridi might be the reason.

5. Bowling Averages - Teams

  • The bowling average is determined using the runs conceded and wickets captured. Now Australia make their presence felt. They have the best bowling average, an imposing value of 20.2. India's good bowling record is demonstrated by their low bowling average, which stands at 22.8. New Zealand and South Africa clock in below 25.
  • Zimbabwe had the worst bowling figures. Their bowling average stands at a miserable 57.2, way above the other teams. Ireland's bowling weakness is shown up by their average of 52.0. No surprises that bowlers from Afghanistan won a lot of hearts, with a very creditable bowling average of 38.4.

6. Bowling Wkts per match - Teams

  • Australia captured 79 wickets in eight matches, which works to an amazing average of 9.9 wickets per match. The wicket they did not capture was the tenth wicket of New Zealand. India are sitting pretty with 9.6 wickets per match. They missed the last three Australian wickets. South Africa also clocks in above 9.0.
  • UAE managed to capture only 5.2 wickets per match. Scotland and Afghanistan had figures of 6.7 and 6.2 respectively: these being higher than England's rate.

7. Bowling Strike Rates - Teams

  • How often did the teams capture a wicket? That is the question. Australia lead India and South Africa by a wide margin. They captured a wicket every 24.0 balls: which, incidentally, is Mitchell Starc's career strike rate. It is no wonder that they have cleaned up all teams, barring one.
  • Zimbabwe continued to have its problems with capturing wickets. They needed 56.0 balls for every wicket. This means that they were unlikely to dismiss any team within the stipulated 50 overs. They would have needed a complete Test day for that.

8. Bowling RpO - Teams

  • The transformation of Indian bowlers is emphasised by this measure. They conceded only 4.92 runs per over. They are the only team to have conceded less than 5 runs per over. Australia follows closely with 5.05 runs per over and South Africa follows next, with 5.11.
  • Ireland's bowling problems are demonstrated with their RpO figure, which stands at 6.44. The loss of Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin has hit them badly.

9. Bowling Boundary percentages - Teams

  • This refers to the boundaries conceded. Australia had the lowest boundary percentage from the bowling perspective, with 44.7%. Surprisingly many of the unfancied teams are at sub-50% figures.
  • Scotland conceded 54.7% in boundaries. They played four matches in New Zealand and two in Hobart: all small grounds. The surprise is New Zealand, which has conceded a huge 52% in boundaries: a testament to McCullum's attacking bowling/fielding strategy and the smaller grounds.

10. Differentials - Teams

  • This is a measure of the difference in batting and bowling averages of the teams. South Africa's differential is 26.4, India's is 23.3 and Australia's is 21.93. Australia, however, leads in the RpO differential measure, with an imposing figure of 1.78. South Africa's figure is 1.73.
  • Zimbabwe's awful bowling numbers ensure that they stand at the bottom, with a -27.81 differential. UAE prop up the RpO table with a differential of -1.68.

11. Wides/No-balls - Teams

  • The prize for guessing the most disciplined team in the World Cup: a free pavilion ticket to the next T20 match between Papua New Guinea and Nepal, to be played at Port Moresby. You have to buy your own air tickets, though. You can also distribute the Man-of-the-Match award.
  • Have you guessed it? I am sure you got it wrong. Well, Bangladesh was the most disciplined team in the World Cup. They bowled only 23 no-balls and four wides. This works to a mere 1.78% of the runs scored by the facing teams and an average of 4.5 Wd/Nb per match. This is extraordinary discipline. All credit to Heath Streak and Chandika Hathurasinghe. England, something to cheer for, follows next with 2.3% and 5.2. Australia and South Africa are in the middle, may be because their bowlers strove hard.
  • Zimbabwe confirm that they have been the worst bowling team in the World Cup, with figures of 5.2% of runs scored and an average of 16 Nbs/Wds per match. West Indies are also quite poor, with figures of 4.5% and 12.1.

It is clear that the dominant bowling team has been Australia. They have been relentless and did not have any discernible weakness. They did not play a spinner to achieve a pseudo-balance - not required in Australia. Glenn Maxwell did enough as a sixth/seventh bowler, capturing six wickets in 38 overs. They bowled brilliantly during the late overs. Of course, what is there to say about Starc? This top-quality bowling, coupled with very good batting, meant that the other teams were chasing shadows.

Now I will look at the matches and try to identify outliers by teams and players.

12. 300+ scores - Matches

  • A team can score 300 in all first innings. The chasing team can also score 300 only if the target is 300 or more. There was a total of 71 (48+23) possible innings in the World Cup. Out of these 71, 28 ended with scores of 300 or more. That makes it an unbelievable 39.4%. How does one digest this? We do not have to compare this with the olden days when 300s were scored a couple times a year. As recently as 2011, on the batsman-friendly subcontinental pitches, this figure stood at 25%. Starc, Trent Boult, Mohammed Shami notwithstanding, the endangered species called bowlers have to be protected and saved from extinction.
  • There were 23 instances of first-innings scores of 300+. Out of these, in three matches these scores were successfully chased down (Ireland, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). This represents a one-in-eight chance of a successful 300+ chase for this World Cup.
  • There were seven knockout matches. When we add the scoreboard pressures, knockout blues etc, it is clear that there was very little chance of a team chasing down a 300+ score successfully in this phase. The New Zealand-South Africa match was an exception. But that match was lost by South Africa through a litany of fielding errors, very unlike South Africa.

13. First 10 overs - Matches

  • This was a World Cup in which the teams tended to take it easy in the first ten overs. Everyone had heard that the last 15 overs were an unlimited buffet lunch, so why take chances? Especially if you did not have a gentleman going by the name McCullum. So this was a staid period. The average runs scored was only 48.4. The highest tally was New Zealand's 116 against England, while chasing 124. The sequence was 9 18 10 20 10 29 9 4 3 and 4. If McCullum had not been dismissed in the eighth over, the innings would not have reached the tenth over. The next best was New Zealand's 88 while chasing South Africa's tough total. West Indies, when they were chasing New Zealand's huge total of 393, compiled 80 runs.
  • What are the chances of a favoured team scoring 14 runs in the first ten overs against a very poor bowling outfit? Only possible if the favoured team is the unpredictable Pakistan. The sequence: an incredible 1, 0, 2, 1, 1, 5, 1, 1, 0 and 2. That Pakistan won the match against Zimbabwe is another story. Scotland made 22 runs in the first ten overs against New Zealand and Afghanistan scored 24 in the match against Bangladesh.
  • UAE, in their match against West Indies, lost five wickets in the first ten overs. This is the only instance in this World Cup of a team losing five wickets so early.

14. Last ten overs - Matches

  • These are the free buffet overs. It came to a stage where if a team conceded fewer than 100 runs, they had achieved something. The average for the qualifying 31 first innings is an unbelievable 102.6. These are the innings that lasted the entire 50 overs.
  • New Zealand, against West Indies in the quarter-final match, scored 153 runs. The last five overs yielded 84 runs. West Indies compiled 152 runs in their last ten overs against Zimbabwe. South Africa, in their match against West Indies, scored 150 runs. It is intriguing to note that West Indies have figured in all three matches. They were either getting hammered or sending the balls out of the park.

15. 5 over stretches - Matches

  • In the five overs (46-50) South Africa scored 96 runs against Zimbabwe. The overs read thus: 19, 16 30, 12 and 19. Let us observe silence for a minute for Panyangara and company. Move forward a couple of weeks across the Tasman Sea. South Africa again, this time against West Indies. The tally: again 96 (11, 7, 34, 14 and 30). This time Jason Holder and his support bowlers deserve our bowed heads. In the New Zealand-West Indies quarter-final, which we have already seen, Martin Guptill and company scored 91 runs in the five overs from the 45th.
  • Now we come to a tale from the Twilight Zone again. Bangladesh played New Zealand in Hamilton. The nightmare sequence starts in over No. 2. It goes like this: 0, 1, 0, 1, 0. Of course you do not believe me. But that is what happened. Bangladesh scored 2 runs in five overs. It does not matter who scored the two runs. Boult bowled three consecutive maidens. Three weeks earlier Pakistan scored three runs in the first five overs against West Indies. They also lost four wickets during this period. It was the turn of the West Indian batsmen a few days later. They scored four runs in the five overs starting with over No. 15.
  • When Australia were defending the meagre total of 151 against New Zealand, New Zealand lost five wickets in the five-over stretch between 20 and 24: they slumped from 131 for 4 to 146 for 9. No other team lost five wickets in five overs.

16. Maiden overs - Matches

  • In their match against UAE, West Indies bowled eight maiden overs. Most of the maiden overs were bowled by their second-string bowlers: Andre Russell and Marlon Samuels. New Zealand against Scotland, New Zealand against Afghanistan and South Africa against UAE bowled six maidens each. Let me remind readers that these are based on my tougher definition of a maiden: No run to accrue to a team.

17. High-scoring overs - Matches

  • Australia had 19 overs in which they scored ten or more runs. This was in the match against Afghanistan. South Africa had 16 overs against West Indies in which they scored in excess of ten. Again, South Africa had 15 10-plus overs against Ireland. The overall average is 13.2 per match.
  • Now we come to those monster overs in which 20 or more runs are scored. There were 35 such overs. West Indies had three such overs against Zimbabwe. As did South Africa against Ireland.
  • South Africa scored 30 or more runs in an over three times. Once against Zimbabwe and twice against West Indies. The highest over tally was 34.
  • I am getting tired of writing about these performances. Let me take some rest.

18. Innings progression - Matches

  • Doubling the score at the 30-over mark has been the old adage. Even today it is true when applied across all 3646 ODI matches. However in this World Cup, there was a remarkable change. The doubling level was, on an average, over 10% later. The average doubling level for all qualifying innings was 33.3 overs. By qualifying innings I mean all first innings that reached 50 overs. There were 31 such instances. The latest level at which doubling was done was when West Indies doubled their 37.3 over score of 186 for 1 to 376 for 2. Just think about it. They scored as much in the last 25% of the innings as they scored in the first 75%. Their scoring rate in the last 12.3 overs was three times the scoring rate in the first 37.3 overs.
  • An alternate way of looking at this: Where do teams finish based on their 25-over score. Well, South Africa finished at 364% of their 25-over score against West Indies. West Indies, against Zimbabwe, ended their innings at 348% of their 25-over score. South Africa, again, when playing against Zimbabwe, scored 332% of their halfway mark score.
  • Awe is inspired, mind boggled, and sanity goes out of the window.

19. Boundary percentages - Matches

  • When Australia chased Scotland's low total of 130 and the rain came, Australia realised that they had to complete their chase in a hurry. So they scored 18 fours and six sixes in their innings of 133. This tally of 108 represents 81.2% of their innings tally. West Indies, when they were faced with an impossible chase of 394 runs to win, went down in a blaze of glory. They dispatched the Kiwi bowlers for 23 fours and 16 sixes. This boundary accumulation of 188 represents a boundary percentage of 75.2 of their total of 250. A few days earlier, New Zealand reached the ropes 13 times and went over seven times. This tally of 94 represents the exact matching value of 75.2% of their final total of 125.
  • In their innings of 133 against South Africa, Sri Lanka scored only nine fours. This represents 27.1% of the team total. There are a few other instances of boundary percentage values below 30. England, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the teams.

20. Team scoring rates - Matches

  • New Zealand scored at a rate of 10.14 in their whirlwind win over England. However this was across 12 overs. Amongst innings that ran their full course, Australia's scoring rate of 8.34 was the highest. This was against Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan's scoring rate of 3.06 was the lowest in the World Cup. Amongst completed innings, Scotland's 4.10 against Afghanistan was the lowest. Readers will remember this match as one of the greatest of all World Cup matches.

21. Wides/No-balls - Matches

  • West Indies conceded 22 runs through wides and no-balls in the match against India. This does not include runs scored off free-hits. Zimbabwe conceded 21 no-balls and wides against West Indies. Zimbabwe conceded 18 wides and no-balls against South Africa. Zimbabwe and West Indies were the least disciplined of the bowling attacks.
  • UAE did not concede a single no-ball or wide in their match against India. It helped that the innings lasted under 20 overs. In fact no extra was conceded. Afghanistan conceded a single wide in the match against England. Again, the innings lasting just over 18 overs. However the most disciplined match performance was England's, conceding three wides in Australia's imposing total of 342. England also conceded only three wides in the Sri Lankan innings of 312.

22. Batsman scoring rates - Matches

  • McCullum's strike rate of 309 against England was the highest by any batsman. He was going towards a 30-ball hundred when he was dismissed. AB de Villiers' innings of 162 in 66 balls had a strike rate of 246. To make a score of 150+ at such a rate was indeed memorable. Angelo Mathews' quick finishing innings of 51 in 21 balls had a strike rate of 243.
  • Nawroz Mangal's 4 in 28 balls against England was the slowest innings in World Cups. It had a strike rate of 14.3. Among 50-plus innings, Samiullah Shenwari's 54 in 110 balls against New Zealand was the slowest: with a strike rate of 49.1.

23. Fielding achievements - Matches

  • Sarfraz Ahmed, who should have played from the first match onwards, effected six wicketkeeper dismissals in the match against South Africa. All were catches. Umar Akmal caught five batsmen in the match against had Zimbabwe. Jos Buttler, Mushfiqur Rahim and MS Dhoni effected four dismissals each.
  • Once Umar Akmal was relieved of his wicket-keeping duties, he was a free man. He took 4 catches, as a fielder, in the match against Ireland. de Villiers, Raina, Porterfield, MacLeod, Rossouw, du Plessis, Soumya Sircar and Finch caught three batsmen.

24. Boundary percentages - Individual innings

  • McCullum's 77 against England contained eight fours and seven sixes. That makes it 74 runs and 96.1% of the runs scored in boundaries. Hopefully, by now, Steven Finn should have recovered. In the semi-final against the fancied South Africans, McCullum's 59 contained 56 runs in boundaries (eight fours and four sixes). This works out to 94.9%. Against Australia, McCullum was more circumspect. Only seven fours and three sixes, a mere 46 runs out of the 50 scored in boundaries. Against the backdrop of what happened afterwards, this innings must rank amongst the most valuable in the World Cup. The top three innings in this classification are McCullum's. If only he had seen through two to three overs of Starc at the MCG?
  • If we consider only 50+ innings, Misbah-ul-Haq's 56 against South Africa had the lowest boundary percentage. Only four fours, which makes the ratio as 26.8%. But what does it matter? Pakistan won a famous victory, defending a low score of 222. So Misbah's innings was indeed very invaluable.

Bradman memorabilia

Bradman started the 1930, 1934 and 1938 Ashes tours with a double-century against Worcestershire. To commemorate this unique achievement, the Worcestershire CC commissioned a Worcester porcelain vase. It is indeed a beautiful piece and the scan of the same is the Bradman memorabilia this time. After the war, Bradman showed that he was indeed human, with a "failure" against Worcestershire in 1948: He scored only a century. To view this photograph, please click on HERE.

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