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Stats Analysis

England flip the switch, Australia Women rule, and Pakistan's pitches give batters joy

A look at the stats and trends that defined 2022

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
04-Jan-2023
England were unstoppable in the second half of 2022, winning, among other things, a series in Pakistan  •  Getty Images

England were unstoppable in the second half of 2022, winning, among other things, a series in Pakistan  •  Getty Images

England's thrilling dash in Tests
Test cricket isn't supposed to be a sprint, say the traditionalists, but England, under new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, decided to turn that theory on its head in 2022. In ten Tests since this pair took over, England scored at 4.77 runs per over, the fastest by far by any team in a ten-Test period in Test history. And they achieved such fabulous results with this approach - nine wins and a loss - that it's difficult to argue with it.
The difference in England's numbers between this approach and the previous one - both in terms of the entertainment and result - is so stark that it makes the speed of the transformation seem unbelievable. England played five Tests in 2022 before McCullum and Stokes took over - in those games, they scored at 3.18 runs per over, made 28.35 runs per wicket, and managed a 0-2 win-loss record, a far cry in every way from the numbers they racked up after the leadership changed hands. In fact, in the 12 Tests they played in the current WTC cycle before June 2022, they had a terrible record of one win and seven defeats. Thanks to those numbers, England are languishing in fifth place on the WTC table despite being the hottest Test team over the last seven months.
England's nine Test wins are their second-highest ever in a calendar year - they had 11 out of 13 in 2004. Only five captains - Clive Lloyd (11 in 1984), Graeme Smith (11 in 2008), Ricky Ponting (ten in 2006), Michael Vaughan (ten in 2004) and Steve Waugh (ten in 2002) have had more Test success than Stokes' nine wins in a calendar year. And then there were those insane fourth-innings chases - six in all, a record four exceeding 250 runs, and all done at a staggering average run rate of 4.99. Before 2022, the most successful 250-plus chases in a calendar year was three, by Australia in 2006.
Despite their lacklustre numbers in those first five Tests of the year, England still finished with a run rate of 4.13 in 2022, the best for a team in any calendar year (minimum of three Tests played). With a ten-Test cut-off, Australia occupy the next five spots, which shows how England have usurped, and improved upon, a batting template that had belonged solely to Australia for so many years.
In 2022, England had four batters who scored 450-plus Test runs at 70-plus strike rates - Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook. Since 1991, from which point complete balls-faced information is available for all Tests, never have more than two batters from a team achieved this feat in a calendar year. And then there were Joe Root (1098 runs, strike rate 63.8) and Zak Crawley (844, 63.5), who didn't exactly bat in the Chris Tavare mould.
Apart from scoring quickly, these batters also scored hundreds for fun: Bairstow made six, Root five, and Brook three. In all, England had 22 Test hundreds in 2022, their highest in a calendar year and the joint fifth-best by any team. What's not to like about England's new approach to Test cricket?
A winning year for Australia too
England took most of the headlines in Test cricket - and then went ahead and won the T20 World Cup too, for good measure - but in the long format, the team with the best numbers in 2022 was Australia, not England. (Australia's women had a stunning year too, but we'll come to that later.) Australia finished with a 7-1 win-loss record in 11 Tests, and along the way they won a Test series in Pakistan and drew one in Sri Lanka.
Their four top run-getters - Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith and Travis Head - all averaged more than 50, while their top four wicket-takers - Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland - all averaged under 30. And unlike England, Australia also had a solid 2021 (though they played only five Tests), which is why they are firm favourites to make it to the final of the World Test Championship in June 2023: they are currently on top of the WTC table with a percentage of 78.57.
While Australia made the most of their home season in 2022, winning five out of six Tests and drawing the other, their 2023 will be defined by how well they do overseas. They have two tough tours of India - who they might also meet in the WTC final in June - and England coming up in 2023. And seeing how England have redefined Test cricket with their thrill-a-minute approach in the last seven months, Ashes 2023 could truly be a battle for the ages.
Batters enjoy return to Pakistan
For the first time since 2006, Pakistan hosted more than two Test matches a year, and the batters certainly weren't complaining. In seven Tests in the country in 2022, teams scored 41.84 runs per wicket; in none of the other countries did that figure exceed 35, while in seven countries the average runs per wicket was under 31. In fact, those seven Tests in Pakistan went a long way in lifting the overall runs per wicket for the year to 31.95; exclude Pakistan, and it drops to 30.16.
Opening batters were especially thankful for the opportunity to play in Pakistan. They averaged 59.58 in the country, with ten hundreds in 54 innings; it could have been 11 had Imam-ul-Haq not been dismissed for 96 on the last day of Test cricket in 2022. In fact, never before have openers scored so many centuries in a country in a calendar year. In all other countries in 2022, they collectively averaged 29.47, with 12 centuries in 272 innings; in England, there were no hundreds for openers in 52 innings.
Overall, six batters scored 350-plus runs at 60-plus averages in Pakistan last year, led by the home captain Babar Azam, who amassed 913 runs at 70.23. Usman Khawaja helped himself to 496 runs at 165.33, while Brook scored 468 at 93.60.
Pakistan as a team had an extremely underwhelming season - they lost four successive home Tests for the first time ever - but for most of the batters involved, playing in Pakistan presented an opportunity to boost the averages.
For the bowlers, though, Pakistan was anything but fun. Fast bowlers averaged 38.90 - 37% more than in other parts of the world - while spinners conceded 44.50 runs per wicket, compared to 33.01 in other parts. The bowlers who did well in these tough conditions deserve special mention: Pat Cummins (12 wickets at 22.50), Ollie Robinson (9 wickets at 21.22), James Anderson (eight at 18.50), Mark Wood (eight at 20.37), Rehan Ahmed (seven wickets at 19.57) and Abrar Ahmed (23 wickets at 30).
The Surya magic in T20Is
Suryakumar Yadav has been turning it on in the IPL for several seasons now, but 2022 was the year he set the world stage alight in T20Is: 1164 runs, average 46.56, strike rate 187.43, 11 scores of 50-plus, including two hundreds. Before 2022, Suryakumar had played only nine T20I innings and scored 244 runs, but he was unstoppable last year, becoming only the second batter to score 1000 T20I runs in a calendar year, after Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan in 2021. Suryakumar is now one of only four batters to score two hundreds in a calendar year in T20I matches between the 12 Full Member teams. And he hit 25 sixes more than any batter has ever done in a year.
In 29 innings against the top 12 teams, Suryakumar scored at a strike rate of 183.33, which is the highest for any batter with at least 500 runs against the top teams in a calendar year. Of the 11 times he faced 20-plus deliveries against these teams, only once did he not touch a strike rate of 150, while five times he topped 200.
Further proof of Suryakumar's fantastic 2022 in T20Is comes from ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, which rates T20 batting and bowling performances contextually, taking into account opposition strength, support from team-mates, match context and conditions. According to this metric too, Suryakumar was the leading batter of the year: in matches between the Full Member teams, he had an impact rating of 51.75, which tops the list for batting impact. Among batters who played at least eight innings against these teams, Glenn Phillips comes in next, with an impact score of 49.96.
Australia Women - the Team of the Year
Played 26 completed matches, won 24, drew 1, lost 1.
That was the record Australia's women's team racked up across formats in 2022. If you're looking for a team of the year in cricket, it's hard to look beyond them. They achieved a perfect 12-0 record in ODIs, including nine wins in the World Cup, drew the only Test they played - an absolute humdinger against England in Canberra - and finished 12-1 in T20Is. That defeat didn't happen in regulation time either: they lost a Super Over game three weeks ago against India.
For most teams, such perfection is something they can only dream of, but not for Australia. This is the third time they achieved a flawless 12-0 ODI record in a year - they did so in 1982 (when their results included a tie) and in 2019 as well. (In T20Is, Zimbabwe were 14-0 in 2019, but against much lesser opposition.)
A comparison between their batting and bowling numbers and those of their opponents underlines Australia's domination in 2022. In ODIs they scored 50.05 runs per wicket, at a run rate of 5.41 per over; they allowed their opponents to score fewer than half the runs, 23.33, per wicket, at just 4.32 runs per over. In T20Is, they scored 8.74 runs per over and 45.43 per wicket, and conceded 6.94 per over and 18.75 per wicket. Domination rarely gets more comprehensive than this.
When a team achieves such phenomenal results, it's obvious that the individual stats for players will stand out too. Beth Mooney was excellent with the bat in both formats: in ODIs she scored 403 runs at 100.75 - only the fourth time a batter has scored 400-plus runs at a 100-plus average in a year in women's ODIs - while in T20Is she was Australia's leading run-scorer, with 449 at 56.12. In fact, Australia's top four run-getters in each format averaged over 50. The bowlers did an equally splendid job: the top three wicket-takers in the ODIs all went at under 4.25 runs per over, while in T20Is, the four of the top five wicket-takers averaged under 19, and conceded fewer than seven runs per over.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats