June 1, 2023

Among the wails and recriminations associated with the defeat of India by South Africa, with the spectacular explosion of the first batting and debate Ashish Nehra against Harbhajan Singh in the final ended, one question was almost lost.

See also | Bowling statistics (PDF)

Why did the home team go with three seamers when spin was supposed to be a savior and R. Ashwin waiting for a chance? As expected, the tournament turned out to be a batsman’s paradise. But much has been written and discussed in the run-up about the spin – India’s alleged strength against the spinners, Imran Tahir’s inclusion in the South African team, Graeme Swan’s insight and the Australians’ lack of it.

How are tweakers really different from seamstresses at this World Cup?

According to Cricinfo In the website’s Statsguru database, pace bowlers have collected 279 wickets compared to spinners’ 194 wickets. It’s good if the teams have more seamstresses than those who can spin the ball. However, faster bowlers not only capture those wickets with a lower average of 29.6, but also hit every 35 balls. In comparison, spinners only managed to dismiss a batsman once in every 42 innings.

However, this is a general conclusion as one cannot accommodate different types of playing surfaces, playing conditions and averaging the best scores such as South Africa. Dale Steinfive wickets against India with some of the worst. However, we can correct for two factors.

First, a closer look at these numbers reveals that Indian surfaces, despite rare gems like Chennai, are arguably the most batsman-friendly in the world. Average and economic rates for both categories of bowlers are falling. In contrast, the larger fields in Bangladesh seem to be relatively more bowler-friendly. This may also be due to the fact that, with the exception of the first game, most of the games played in this country were low scoring.

Secondly, even if we remove the matches involving associated nations, which could distort the numbers (although we are intolerant of the performances of Ireland and the Netherlands against England), the numbers will not change much. Seamers still have 114 wickets compared to 82 for spinners. The gap between averages and percentage of hits is only widening.

Between the last World Cup in 2007 and the current one, fast bowlers have had more success in the subcontinent. Consider one-day international matches played in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka between test participants only. In the 123 games between the two World Cups, seamers scored 973 times, conceding 31.71 runs per wicket. The Spinners have earned 659 layoffs in 33.58 runs. What’s more, pacers hit every 37 balls, compared to almost 43 for spinners.

These numbers also confirm India’s relative inability to handle the ball, even at home. Consider the performance of Indian shots between world championships in matches played on the subcontinent. For both initiators and tweakers, the averages are lower and the savings rates are worse than the overall subcontinent match aggregates over this period. Looking at spinner numbers alone, the Indians conceded 35.16 runs per wicket and conceded nearly five runs per over. Comparative totals are 33.58 and 4.68 for all teams.

Of course, numbers may not always do justice to victorious performances or near-victorious heroic deeds such as Zahir Khan nearly won the match against England or missed just four runs in the penultimate over of the South African chase. But these numbers suggest that the favorites need more of these performances to justify the label.

Photo by Shashank Parade/PTI; graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar/Mint

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