ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011 stats review

The turn of the spinners

Spin accounted for about 47% of the total balls bowled in this tournament, which was a huge increase from previous World Cups

S Rajesh

April 4, 2011

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

Shahid Afridi is ecstatic after getting Kieron Pollard cheaply, Pakistan v West Indies, 1st quarter-final, World Cup 2011, March 23, 2011
Shahid Afridi is only the second spinner to top the wicket-takers' list in a World Cup © Getty Images

Perhaps the most important difference between the 2011 World Cup and all the earlier ones was the role that spin played this time. It was always expected to be a key aspect, but what was surprising was the extent to which it dominated. Almost all the pitches in the tournament were slow - that's the inherent nature of tracks in the subcontinent - but the fact that the tournament was played at the end of the Indian season, when many pitches had already been used for domestic cricket, probably added to the slowness of the wickets. Teams used spinners liberally to start the bowling and even at the death, while there were instances of teams going in with only one specialist seamer and three spinners.

In all, spinners bowled 11,901 deliveries in this World Cup out of 25,425 balls bowled in the entire tournament. In percentage terms, that works out to 46.81, whereas in 2007, spin had contributed 8100 out of 25851 (31.33%). The percentage increase in balls bowled by spinners in 2011 over 2007 is almost 47% too, which is a huge jump too.

A look at the spin numbers for the last seven World Cups reveals that this is the most spin-dominant, in terms of number of overs and the wickets taken by them. Not surprisingly, the two previous World Cups played in the subcontinent are the next-best, both in terms of percentage of balls bowled and wickets taken. In 1996, spinners bowled about 38% of the deliveries and took 41% of the wickets; this time, they bowled nearly 47% of all balls but took about 43% of the wickets.

In terms of averages and run-rates, the numbers for spin aren't very different from the overall tournament numbers: the spinners averaged 31.51 runs per wicket at an economy rate of 4.60 per over, while the overall tournament stats were 31.19 and 4.91.

Contribution by spinners in each World Cup
Year Spin - balls Total balls Percentage Spin - wickets Total wickets Percentage
2011 11,901 25,425 46.81 290 668 43.41
2007 8100 25,851 31.33 201 658 30.55
2003 8099 25,763 31.44 195 689 28.30
1999 4548 22,721 20.02 87 548 15.88
1996 7477 19,556 38.23 169 411 41.19
1992 4784 20,498 23.34 94 447 21.03
1987 5432 15,413 35.24 106 321 33.02

With spin accounting for so many overs in the World Cup, it was hardly surprising that the two teams which made it to the final were the ones who tackled spin better than anyone else. India and Sri Lanka were the only sides to have a 50-plus average and a run-rate of more than five against spin. Among the batsmen who scored most runs against spin, six of the top seven were from these two sides - the only one outside of these teams was England's Jonathan Trott, who also headed the list.

However, India's spin attack certainly wasn't the best of the tournament, despite Yuvraj Singh's superb display with the ball. They averaged more than 36 runs per wicket, and conceded almost five runs per over. Harbhajan Singh averaged more than 43 runs per wicket, while Yusuf Pathan took only one wicket in 35 overs. (Click here for India's batting and bowling stats.)

Pakistan's spinners were the leading wicket-takers with 37, and they finished with an excellent average and economy rate too. Shahid Afridi was obviously their star spinner - he became the second spinner to lead the wickets tally in a World Cup, after Anil Kumble in 1996 - but he was also supported superbly by Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal.

The surprise package, in terms of spin quality, was clearly South Africa. The trio of Imran Tahir, Robin Peterson and Johan Botha was both incisive and economical, and their collective display was the main reason why so many experts had high expectations from this South African team.

Team-wise spin stats in World Cup 2011
Team Bat - runs/ wkts Average Run-rate Bowl - wkts Average Econ rate
India 1052/ 18 58.44 5.36 34 36.29 4.91
Sri Lanka 842/ 16 52.62 5.34 34 21.58 3.91
Pakistan 594/ 18 33.00 4.66 37 20.40 3.76
New Zealand 743/ 24 30.95 4.24 12 37.50 4.35
Australia 689/ 14 49.21 4.77 8 61.00 4.61
South Africa 743/ 16 46.43 4.66 36 18.94 4.19
England 837/ 27 31.00 4.73 18 33.50 5.02
West Indies 538/ 32 16.81 3.87 16 27.37 4.72

The overall numbers
Overall, too, Pakistan and South Africa were among the best bowling units - they were the top two in bowling averages and economy rates. South Africa conceded only one 250-plus score in the entire tournament - to India - while Sri Lanka conceded two and Pakistan three. The only team to concede five such totals were India - against Bangladesh, England, South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka.

However, while India's bowling attack wasn't the best in the tournament, their batting was surely the most explosive. They made seven 250-plus scores; Sri Lanka were the only other team to touch five. India's run-rate of 5.79 was the best too, and they were one of only two sides to score more than 5.50 runs per over.

Team stats in the 2011 World Cup
Team Win/loss Bat ave Run rate Bowl ave Econ rate Ave diff ER diff
India 7/ 1 39.85 5.79 29.86 5.19 9.99 0.60
Sri Lanka 6/ 2 47.97 5.67 23.95 4.56 24.02 1.11
Pakistan 6/ 2 31.24 5.01 21.06 4.26 10.18 0.75
New Zealand 5/ 3 33.23 5.28 23.45 4.59 9.78 0.69
South Africa 5/ 2 35.34 5.29 18.36 4.33 16.98 0.96
Australia 4/ 2 42.38 5.42 28.74 4.65 13.64 0.77
England 3/ 3 32.66 5.33 35.43 5.47 -2.77 -0.14
West Indies 3/ 4 23.91 4.84 23.60 4.79 0.31 0.05

Breaching the five per over mark
It was widely expected that this would be the first World Cup where the average runs per over would exceed five, and so it proved: the run-rate for the entire tournament was 5.03, which was a shade above 2007's mark of 4.95. Despite this, though, it didn't seem like a batsman-dominated World Cup, probably because there weren't too many ridiculously high totals. Out of seventeen 300-plus scores this time, only three exceeded 340. In 2007, eight out of sixteen 300-plus scores were in excess of 340. In all, though, there were thirty-seven 250-plus totals in 49 matches in 2011, compared to 25 in 51 matches in 2007.

How each World Cup stacks up
Year Matches Runs Average Run-rate
2011 49 21,333 29.18 5.03
2007 51 21,333 29.42 4.95
1987 27 12,522 32.52 4.87
2003 52 20,441 27.84 4.76
1996 36 15,225 32.12 4.67
1999 42 16,963 28.41 4.47
1992 39 15,107 29.39 4.42
1983 27 12,046 29.52 4.08
1975 15 6162 29.62 3.91
1979 14 5168 25.58 3.54

Tale of three countries
The overall run-rate of more than five was largely due to the fact that India hosted 60% of the matches. The run-rate in these matches was 5.23, while the matches played in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had much lower scoring rates. Out of the seventeen 300-plus scores in the tournament, 12 came in India, four in Sri Lanka and only one in Bangladesh.

Stats by host country
Host Matches Runs Average Run-rate 100s/ 50s 4s/ 6s
India 29 13,665 30.70 5.23 16/ 68 1245/ 194
Sri Lanka 12 4757 29.00 4.85 6/ 23 414/ 43
Bangladesh 8 2911 23.86 4.49 2/ 12 243/ 21

The DRS numbers
The Decision Review System was used 182 times in 49 games, which works out to an average of 3.71 times per game. The only match in which it wasn't used at all was in the quarter-final between New Zealand and South Africa. At the other end of the scale was the game between Pakistan and Canada, when there were ten reviews, which was the highest of the tournament. Five of those appeals were upheld, which is also the highest in a single game.

Of the 182 reviews, 37 times the on-field umpire's original decision was changed, which means his call was upheld almost 80% of the time. The batting team used the review 78 times, of which 17 were successful (21.79%), while the corresponding percentage for the fielding team was 19.23 (20 out of 104).

The team which used the DRS most effectively was South Africa, with five appeals upheld out of 13. They're followed by three minnows, and then by Pakistan, who used the system more than any other side. The only side which didn't get a single review correct was Ireland - all 11 of their appeals were struck down.

Teams which got highest review percentage correct
Team Reviews Appeal upheld Percentage
South Africa 13 5 38.46
Canada 14 5 35.71
Zimbabwe 14 5 35.71
Kenya 16 4 25.00
Pakistan 21 5 23.81
India 18 4 22.22

Among the umpires, Aleem Dar was outstanding, with all 14 reviews of his decisions being struck down. Billy Bowden was the only other umpire with a 100% record. Simon Taufel was going well too, till his not-out decision against Thilan Samaraweera in the final was overturned when Yuvraj Singh asked for a review. Taufel finished with ten out of his 12 review appeals being struck down, a percentage of 83.33.

The two umpires with the poorest review records were Asoka de Silva (five out of eight appeals upheld), and Daryl Harper (seven out of 14).

Umpires with least % of decisions overturned
Umpire Reviews Appeal rejected Percentage
Aleem Dar 14 14 100.00
Billy Bowden 6 6 100.00
Marius Erasmus 11 10 90.90
Billy Doctrove 9 8 88.89
Shavir Tarapore 9 8 88.89

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 7 
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Posted by Mark on (April 5, 2011, 22:29 GMT)

UDRS is actually controlled by a person and therefore is subject operator error. Tendulkar's escape from an LBW in the semi is widely accepted as being a UDRS error. Having said that, it's better to have an imperfect UDRS system than none at all as long as we understand that the system isn't infallible and therefore should not be used as a precise judge of umpire performance.

Posted by Sharad on (April 5, 2011, 13:30 GMT)

@akhilhp: That's one way of looking at it. The other way is that his decisions were most doubted by the players - that way Billy Bowden is the best and he's got a 100% record as well. Perceptions.

Posted by Rajesh on (April 5, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

Great win for India. As an Indian Iam excited & thrilled at our team conquering the world summit after 28 long years. The good thing about this world cup win is that during the group stages, especially after the upset loss to south africa, critics were mercilessly writing off India, & some even went to the extent of saying that this Indian team is not good enough to win the world cup. Iam so glad the Indian team quietly did their homework, made required improvements, & under the able Leadership of Kirsten & Dhoni, proved their detractors wrong & became world champions. I think some of the former greats did not want India to become Champions, they were constantly supporting Pak, SA & Australia. Mohinder Amarnath even went to the extent of saying only South africa will win the WC & not any other team. where is he now? By the way, the biggest joke of this world cup was the West Indian Captain Sammy & opener Gayle dreaming about their team becoming the world champion. Real Jokers No ?

Posted by Jouhar on (April 5, 2011, 8:55 GMT)

Now all the team don't like to ask review against Aleem Dar.......

Posted by Akhilesh on (April 5, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

So Aleem Dar is the best... I thought so....

Posted by Harvey on (April 4, 2011, 22:47 GMT)

The stats emphasize Australia's poor spin bowling. 8 wickets at 61. Worse than all the nations listed, possibly even worse than some of the rest too. The glory days are long gone

Posted by Umair on (April 4, 2011, 21:34 GMT)

Nice writeup. I would really like to know the impact of Power Plays and DRS on how the closeness of games in this World Cups compared with past World Cups. Please come up with a metric for defining a close game and do an analysis to show whether games are closer now ever since PP and DRS. Thanks.

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S Rajesh S Rajesh is ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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