Australia three times better than the rest

Click here for the tournament statistics

Over 47 days of action during the 2007 World Cup, 21,333 runs were scored for the loss of 725 wickets in 51 matches, which works out to an average of 29.42 runs per wicket at 4.95 runs per over, which in turn works out to a 50-over score of 248 for 8 in 50 overs. In terms of a competitive one-day match, this is just about the perfect total - it suggests an equal contest between bat and ball, with something in the conditions for both to exploit.

Add that statistic to a couple more - the team batting first and chasing both won 25 times, while the team winning the toss won 24 games and lost 26 - and the format of the World Cup - eight top teams going through to play against each other - and you'd be forgiven for believing that the tournament was the perfect one. It wasn't, of course, due to a number of reasons - the primary ones being that one team was much better than the rest, and far too often some of the sides just forgot to show up.

The story of the World Cup - on the field, at least - was the ruthless manner in which the Australians dominated. There are several numbers which bring that out; here are some of the main ones:

  • They lost only 43 wickets when batting, and took 103 wickets in the field - that's a difference of 60. Sri Lanka, the second-best team, had a difference of 19.

  • Six of their eight batsmen had an average of more than 60 and a scoring rate of more than 90; one of the two remaining batsmen was Adam Gilchrist, who struck a stunning 104-ball 149 in the final.

  • Their four strike bowlers took a combined total of 86 wickets, all of them at an average of less than 21. (Click here for Australia's batting and bowling averages.)

  • They averaged 66.30 with the bat (only team to average more than 50), and 18.81 with the ball (only team with a sub-20 average). The difference between batting and bowling average is a staggering 47.49. For Sri Lanka, the second-best team, the difference was only 15.92, one-third the figure for Australia.

  • They were the only team to score at more than a run a ball through the entire tournament - they finished with a tournament run-rate of 6.54. The difference between the runs scored and conceded per over is nearly two.
    The table below lists out the details for all teams that reached the Super Eights.

    The Australians have often stressed the importance of rotating the strike, but in the smaller grounds in the West Indies, they clearly recognised the benefits of going for the big hits - in 11 games they blasted 273 fours and 67 sixes, and scored more than 52% of their runs in boundaries. The only team that got close to them was South Africa, with 49.49%. In fact, the Australians also exceeded their norm - in the 15 months before the World Cup, their boundary percent in ODIs was only 46.

    Australia take the top spot in everything - they played the least number of dot balls as well, which, combined with their boundary percentage, explains how they scored the number of runs they did. Bangladesh had many positives to take from the tournament, but the one area which is well below international standards is their ability to rotate strike - they played out nearly 70% dot balls.

    At the head of Australia's dominance was their opening combination of Matthew Hayden and Gilchrist - the Australians averaged 76.10 for the first wicket, with eight fifty-plus stands. In the first 20 overs they scored at an average of 5.88 runs per over, and 87.78 runs per wicket.

    Their opening with the new ball was just as aggressive - Australia took 45 of their 103 wickets in the first 20 overs. Other teams were more economical at the start, but none nailed the wickets like Australia did. Interestingly, New Zealand had the worst average per wicket among teams which made it to the Super Eights.

    Australia's dominance was undoubtedly the single outstanding feature of the tournament, but there were a couple of other interesting aspects as well. With the new ball doing a bit in most of the venues, most of the teams (not Australia, though) preferred caution in the early part of the innings, which made most of the games a throwback to the early days of one-day cricket, when teams would score slowly and keep wickets in hand in the early overs, and then open out towards the end. The average run-rate in the first 20 was just 4.44, but in the last ten it increased to nearly seven.

    Also, the pitches were conducive to both pace and spin, which ensured that spinners had plenty to do through the tournament, with Muttiah Muralitharan and Brad Hogg being among the leading wicket-takers.