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The nature of pitches in the Champions Trophy meant that batsmen, fast bowlers and spinners all had a chance to shine
October 6, 2009
The 2009 Champions Trophy was billed as a tournament which could decide the future of one-day cricket. Going by what most captains had to say, the event was a resounding success: the short duration of the tournament helped, as did the type of pitches, which gave the bowlers more of a chance than conditions in most parts of the world for one-day cricket. The overall numbers for the competition reflect the same: 214 wickets fell in 15 matches - an average of 14 per game - at an average of 30.36. The average runs per over was 5.05, which means the average 50-over score in the tournament was 253 for 8 (rounded off to the nearest whole number). That score suggests both batsmen and bowlers had opportunities to make a mark.
There were five scores of more than 300 - England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa all managed to pass that mark - while three times teams were bundled out for less than 150 (West Indies (twice) and England).
|Matches||Runs||Wickets||Runs per wkt||Runs over||300+scores||All out < 150|
While the overall numbers were impressive, the tournament still failed to provide the kind of thrillers one would have expected from a competition in which several teams seemed so evenly matched. Looking at the margins of wins in the 15 games, it's obvious that most of them weren't close. Three matches were won by a margin of 50 or more runs, with Sri Lanka's 55-run victory against South Africa being the highest. The next was Pakistan's 54-run win against India, while Australia beat West Indies by 50.
Overall, though, teams batting second had the advantage, winning nine out of 14 games which produced results, including both semi-finals and the final. Of those nine wins, most were pretty comfortable ones, both in terms of wickets in hand and balls remaining. Seven games were won by five or more wickets, of which only one, New Zealand's semi-final win against Pakistan, came with less than three overs to spare. The only really close game of the tournament was Australia's two-wicket, last-ball win against Pakistan in Centurion.
|50 or more runs||25-49 runs||< 25 runs||5 or more wkts||3-4 wkts||< 3 wkts|
|Number of matches||3||1||1||7||1||1|
Australia were involved in the most tense game of the competition, but they also ensured the semis and final ended up being quite one-sided. Their batting average of 47.16 was by far the highest of all teams, while the bowling average was bettered by only one team. The two leading run-scorers in the tournament were both Australians, but the bowlers were slightly hampered by the fact that they bowled in one less innings than the other teams, as their match against India was washed out.
What's also striking about the table below, though, is how closely the teams are bunched. Apart from West Indies and Australia, all teams had batting averages between 28 and 34, and run rates between 4.84 and 5.61. (The highest run-rate, ironically, belonged to South Africa.)
Among the bowling sides, Sri Lanka struggled the most, with only 18 wickets in three games. Muttiah Muralitharan had one of his worst tournaments, taking one wicket at an average of 106 and an economy rate of 5.88, and that hit the team badly. West Indies were awful with the bat but did themselves no dishonour with the ball, with an average that was better than two other teams. Three of their bowlers - Nikita Miller, Gavin Tonge and Darren Sammy finished with sub-four economy rates.
|Team||Runs||Batting ave||RPO||Wickets||Bowling average||Econ rate|
The batting Powerplays
One of the aspects of team strategies that was analysed closely throughout the tournament - and which will undoubtedly be scrutinised further over the coming weeks - was the use of batting Powerplays. Experts went hoarse trying to urge teams to take them relatively early, when a strong partnership was in progress, but most times teams preferred to wait till they were closer to the final overs.
In the 15 matches, the batting Powerplay was taken 26 times (three times it wasn't taken by the team chasing - England against Sri Lanka, and Pakistan and India against West Indies - while India didn't get to bat at all against Australia). Of these 26, on nine occasions the batting team took it after 44 or 45 overs. Only three times did teams take it before the 30th, and on two of those instances the batting team was forced into taking it - West Indies collapsed so quickly against Pakistan and India that they had no option but to take them. The only other instance was by New Zealand against England, when they smartly opted for it in the 11th over to take advantage of a blazing start after Andrew Strauss had declined to take the fielding Powerplay. That was the only instance of the batting Powerplay being taken before the fielding one.
|After 44 or 45 overs||Between 40th and 44th||Between 30th and 39th||Before 30th|
Overall, the Powerplays yielded an average of 7.71 runs per over, and slightly less than 21 runs per wicket.
|Runs scored||Wickets lost||Runs per wkt||Runs per over|
Among the eight teams, Australia used the batting Powerplays the best, averaging more than ten per over and losing only two wickets during this period. They scored 69 in those five overs against West Indies, the most by any team. (The only other side to get more than 60 was New Zealand, who blasted 61 against Sri Lanka.) Fittingly, Australia ended their semi-final and final with a flurry of big hits in the batting Powerplays, scoring 28 from 11 balls against England and 12 from two against New Zealand.
New Zealand and Sri Lanka didn't do badly either, but Pakistan were disappointing, averaging only slightly more than seven per over and losing nine wickets during this period. India only used the Powerplays once, losing four for 16 against Pakistan.
Australia were also excellent with the ball when their opponents took the batting Powerplay - they took nine wickets during this period, the joint-highest with South Africa, and conceded only 6.40 runs per over. New Zealand, on the other hand, struggled to take wickets, managing only one in 105 deliveries they bowled, for a bowling average of 137. Sri Lanka conceded nearly ten per over, while West Indies leaked 69 against Australia on the only occasion they were forced to bowl during the batting Powerplay.
|Team||Bat ave||Run rate||Bowl ave||Econ rate|
Pace and spin
The nature of pitches can be further gauged from the fact that both fast bowlers and spinners did reasonably well. Spinners were slightly more economical, while fast bowlers had a slightly better average.
|Wickets||Average||Strike rate||Econ rate|
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