Test cricket: runs per over by team (and batting averages)

Watching the cricket today, I was wondering what a graph of the different teams’ runs per over would be, over the past decade or so. The English team seems to bat at close to 4 an over lately, while the South African team seems happy at a more ‘traditional’ rate of around 3 per over. Maybe because the English have played the Australians in the Ashes so much, they have started to emulate their run scoring pace – that was my hypothesis. It was the Aussies, after all, that really ramped things up 10-15 years ago, when they dominated test cricket for a decade.

I wanted to check my theories against the data, so I downloaded the test data from Cricinfo StatsGuru. Checking the team scoring rates (RPO) year-by-year had too much variance, so I adjusted the graph to use the run rate from the 5 previous years. This is what you get:

It’s quite impressive to see how the Australians broke the mold. South Africa is pretty consistent, but England aren’t that much faster than the Proteas as I thought they’d be, at least not over the last 5 years. New Zealand’s black caps seem to be cranking it up, though. The Zimbabweans haven’t yet reached the levels most teams were at in 1999 (their hiatus shows in the 5-year average as a gap in 2010).

Using the run rate from the previous 10 years, the graph smooths out a bit:

You can just see the passing of the baton from the West Indies team to the Aussies – it would be interesting to run this even further back than 1990, which was as far back as I went. One day, when I’m big, I’ll have to redo it with all test data, and make it an interactive webpage. For now, the above are images from an Excel spreadsheet…

But it made me wonder: RPO shows how fast the team bats, but what would the batting average (per wicket) look like?

In the 10 years up to 2009, an Australian wicket scored an average of roughly 10 runs more than a wicket from all the other teams! Nice to see the South Africans getting to the top, although as the 5-year average shows (below), it looks like we’re on a bit of a decline.

Nice to see how Bangladesh is now competing with the older test playing nations. Are Aus really still top over the last 5 years? Maybe their bowling lets them down, as a team. I suppose the same exercise needs to be done for the bowling team… not tonight, though.


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