Momentum, part 2

The month long previews of #ausvsa and #indveng continue…


Yesterday’s post was flawed, I know. Mostly because in order to really see how much the first test matters to the outcome of a series, you need to bring the number of tests in the series into the calculation.

Unfortunately, I am not sure exactly how to create any such algorithm, but here is the raw data:

Series Start Date Winner of first Match Winner of Series # of Tests in Series
1933 England England 3
1951 Draw Draw 5
1961 Draw India 5
1964 Draw Draw 5
1972 England India 5
1976 England England 5
1981 India India 6
1984 India England 5
1993 India India 3
2001 India India 3
2006 Draw Draw 3
2008 India India 2

As the number of tests increase, the less the result of the first match has on the series. For series that had three tests or less, the opening match result predicted the series result all four times. For series that had five or more tests, the opening match correctly predicted the series result only 67% of the time.

Unfortunately, for this project anyway, India have never hosted England for a four test series, but I still think I can be confident in saying that if the first match ends in a draw (and all signs point to it doing so), then the series will end in a draw.


Here is the same information for Australia v South Africa:

Series Start Date Winner of first Match Winner of Series # of Tests in Series Does first match predict series?
1910 Australia Australia 5 Yes
1931 Australia Australia 5 Yes
1952 Australia Draw 5 No
1963 Draw South Africa 5 No
1993 Draw Draw 3 Yes
1997 Draw Australia 3 No
2001 Australia Australia 3 Yes
2005 Draw Australia 3 No
2008 South Africa South Africa 3 Yes

Of the nine tests series where Australia has hosted South Africa, the first match has correctly predicted the series result five times. Two of those occurrences happened in five test series, the other three in three tests series. So it looks like the number of tests in a series does not play a major factor.

Factoid: South Africa has never won a series in Australia after losing the first match

Factoid: Australia has only lost the opening match once, and they ended up losing the series

Factoid: Only two of the nine series ended in draws.

Prediction? We are going to get a result. And the first match matters. (Says Captain Obvious.)

Momentum, part 1

The month long previews of #ausvsa and #indveng continue…


For a bit there, this series had some rather decent momentum, but it’s been a busy and hectic few days, unfortunately.

And speaking of momentum: just how important is that first match going to be in Ahmedabad? In Brisbane?

This post will look at the former, tomorrow’s post will look at the latter:

India have hosted England for 12 test series. This count does not factor in the “one-off” Jubilee test in 1980.

Here’s how everything played out:

Series Start Date Winner of first Match Winner of Series
1933 England England
1951 Draw Draw
1961 Draw India
1964 Draw Draw
1972 England India
1976 England England
1981 India India
1984 India England
1993 India India
2001 India India
2006 Draw Draw
2008 India India

England have won three of the 12 series they have played on Indian soil. Two of those series saw them win the first match, while the third, in Mumbai in 1984, they lost.

India have won six of the 12 series against England. Four of those series saw them win the first match, drawing one and losing the other.

Therefore, of the nine series that finished with a result, the eventual winner won the first match six times, or 67%. Nearly seven in 10.

Meanwhile all three series that ended drawn opened with a drawn match.

What does this all tell us?

That if we get a winner in Ahmedabad, we will likely see a result in the series.

If we get a draw, we are more than likely to have the series end drawn.

Unfortunately due to the ground’s recent reputation, the latter is far more possible than the former.

New prediction: series ends in a draw.



The month long previews of #ausvsa and #indveng continue…


Yesterday, Russ of Idle Summers pointed out that test matches in Australia in the pre-war era were “timeless” – which is why of the 92 tests that took place between 1877 and 1940 in Australia, there were only two draws.

After World War Two, Australia hosted 291 tests, 70 of which ended in draws, or 24% of all tests.

The post-war table for all test nations looks like this:

Australia are still near the top, just not as outrageously so. And I have yet to figure out what is going on in Bangladesh, but that is a blog topic for another day.


I found the notion of the timeless test match fascinating, and I must admit that I was unaware such a thing even existed until Russ pointed it out.

Between 1910 and 1932, South Africa played 10 timeless tests in Australia. They lost nine of them.

The only match the Saffers won before World War Two took place  January the 7th through the 13th, 1911, and was played at the Adelaide Oval.

The visitors won the toss on the opening Saturday and chose to bat. They ended the day at 279 for 5 .

Sunday was a rest day.

Australia bowled out South Africa on Monday, the 9th, for 482, and ended the day themselves at 72 for 1. On Tuesday they continued to bat on and on and on, thanks to Victor Trumper’s 204 not out.

Trumper, who would be dead of kidney disease in just four years time at the age of only 37, continued to bat on that Wednesday, and was the last man standing as the Australian tail fell apart, leaving Australia 17 runs short of South Africa’s first innings total at 465 all out, despite Trumper’s total of 214.

It was Trumper’s highest score ever, and quite unfortunate that came in a losing effort.

Wednesday’s play ended with South Africa at 232 for five in their second innings, and they would end their innings on Thursday at 360 all out, thanks in most part to a lovely century from Aubrey Faulkner, who would commit suicide in 1930 at the age of just 48.

Thursday (day five, mind you) ended with Australia at 187 for four and in modern times, the match would have ended right there in a draw, but since it was a timeless test, they came out to play again on Friday the 13th, and South Africa bowled out the hosts for 339, leaving them 38 runs short of the visitor’s total.

Reggie Schwarz took three of Australia’s final four wickets, two as a bowler and two in the field, to end with figures of 4 for 48. South Africa went on to win despite Tibby Cotter’s valiant 36 off of 28 at the death.

Schwarz died at the age of only 43, of Spanish Influenza on the Western Front in 1918; just seven days before the Armistice…

Cotter died when he was only 33; a member of the Australian Light Horse, he was killed by a sniper outside of Beersheba, Pakistan, in 1917.

A lot of tragedy happened to the stars of that match at Adelaide in 1911, the only timeless test South Africa ever won on Australian soil.

Of course, those were different times, life expectancy for men was only 50 in 1911, and so dying at the age of 43, especially during the age of  mustard gas and pandemics, was not at all that strange, but very eery how all four men of the match (unofficially) saw untimely and tragic ends.

Tonight, I drink to the memories of those four cricketers, and when Australia and South Africa take to the pitch in Adelaide this fall, I will do so again.


Drawing in the Rain

The month long previews of #ausvsa and #indveng continue…


Yesterday, I mentioned how few draws there seemed to be in Australia. And that assumption proved to be correct:

As you can see, only Bangladesh has had fewer test matches end in draws. Australia is a full 16 points behind the average and 27 points behind the hosts of our other big test series this fall/winter, India.

Looking at the grounds involved in #ausvsa and #indveng gives us the same conclusion:

Looks like Adelaide wrecks the curve a bit, but percentage wise Australia’s three grounds are 21 points behind India’s four grounds.

Now, what is the single biggest cause of draws? Why, rain, of course.

(Well, some might say teams that refuse to attack or bad pitches, but rain is really the only measurable quality in this equation).

I thought about doing average rainfall for each test nation, but with India and others being such massive countries, the numbers just would have not made sense.

So I made this chart:

Now, while it seems my conclusion was not entirely correct, that rain is the number one cause of the lack of draws in Australia, rain does play a part.

Interesting that Perth receives over 300 mm more in rain every year than Adelaide does, yet there are more draws at the latter ground. And Ahmedabad receives less rain than Perth yet over half of the matches played there have ended in draws. (Small sample size, admittedly.) The comparison between Mumbai and Kolkata is interesting, as well: fewer draws in Mumbai, despite receiving more rain per year.

Conclusions? Australia really does have far fewer draws than other test nations, but that has less to do with rain, and probably more to do with their century of dominance, their attacking nature, and their lively pitches.

What does this say in way of a preview of our two series this fall? Not much that you didn’t already know: results in Australia, draws in India.


South Africa goes down under

The month long previews of #indveng and #ausvsa continue…


Australia has hosted South Africa for 35 tests.

Australia has won 20, South Africa has won 7, and the rest were draws.

Not exactly great stats for the visitors, a wining percentage of only 20% and a win or draw percentage of only 43% but let’s look at how other countries have fared down under:

Australia has played 383 home test matches, winning 216, losing 94, and drawing 72. (There was one tie which is why the numbers don’t add up).

Which means all countries, including South Africa, have a winning percentage of 25% and a win or draw percentage of 43%. So right on target with South Africa’s performance in Australia.

If we remove South Africa from the above totals, however, it looks something like this:

Total tests: 348

Australia wins: 196

Opposition wins: 87

Draws: 64

Opposition winning percentage: 25%

Opposition win or draw percentage: 43%

Again, right on target. So while South Africa has a rather poor record in Australia, so does everyone else, it seems. Though South Africa could do with turning a couple of those draws into wins, as their winning percentage is five points below the average.

A couple points of interest:

– South Africa has won two of the last three tests played in Australia. Beating the hosts in December of 2008 by six wickets at Perth and in the 2008 Boxing Day test at Melbourne by nine wickets. They lost in January 2009 at Sydney however by 103 runs. And so they might just be turning the tables against Australia. Of course this point also makes it clear that between 1910 and 2006, South Africa had won only five tests down under.

– I am going to explore this more but there are shockingly few draws during South Africa’s trips to Australia. I am not sure if this the weather, the teams, or what, but tomorrow I will write about draws. Should be thrilling.


KP’s back

The month long previews of #ausvsa and #indveng continues with a bit of breaking news: Kevin Pietersen is back in the squad for England.

What this means for England is unclear.

KP has played five tests for England in India.

Mohali in 2006: draw

Punjab in 2006: India win

Mumbai in 2006: England win

Chennai in 2008: India win*

Mohali in 2008: draw*

*KP was captain

That’s a winning percentage of 20% and a win or draw percentage of 80%: right in line with England’s long term performances in India over the last 80 years, as we learned yesterday.

Over those five matches, KP scored 365 runs. 144 of which came at Mohali in 2008.

His scores per inning look like this:

15, 87; 64, 4; 39, 7; 4, 1; 144, DNB

Respectable, but not earth shattering, and probably not game changing with the exception of the knock at Mohali.

KP does of course add a certain je nais se quois to the England line up, and whether that will be a positive je nais se quois or a negative je nais se quois is hard to tell at this point.

I can safely say however that he will make the entire series more entertaining for the neutrals.


Can’t lose ’em all

The month long previews of India versus England and Australia versus South Africa continues…


England has played 51 test matches in India.

England has won 11 of those matches, India has won 14, and the rest were drawn.

And so despite England’s well worn reputation as subcontinentally poor, they actually have done, well, okay in India.

Of course, those wins have been few and far between as of late. They won in 2006 at Mumbai, but before that had not won on Indian soil since 1985 in Chennai.

All told, they won twice in the 30s, once in the 50s, four times in the 70s, three times in the 80s. zero times in the 90s, and once in the aughts.

Not exactly dominant but not exactly push overs either.

Let’s look at the other non-sub-continental test nations and their records in India:

Australia: played 42, won 12, lost 15, tied 1, with 14 draws

South Africa: played 12, won 5, lost 5, with 2 draws

New Zealand: played 31, won 2 (yikes), lost 13, with 16 draws

West Indies: played 43, won 14, lost 9, with 20 draws

All in all, it shapes up something like this:

Now, I consider South Africa a bit of an outlier, but even with omitting them, England’s winning percentage does not look all that impressive, but they actually fall right into the middle of the pack when it comes to securing either a win or a draw in India.

Unfortunately for England, based on the column totals,  non-subcontinent teams have a terrible time winning when India are hosting, but they do have a knack for scratching out draws. Of course, that latter silver lining might have something to do with rain, but the point still stands: England probably won’t lose every match in India.

Grounded, part 2

And so we continue with our month long previews of India v England and Australia v South Africa…

This morning I wrote about the grounds that are set to host the former series, and so without further ado a similar post on the grounds set to host the latter:

The three tests of the South African tour of Australia will be played at the Brisbane Cricket Ground in Wooloongabba (aka, the “Gabba”), the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide (no fancy nickname), and the Western Australia Cricket Association Ground in Perth (aka, the “WACA”.

Your geography lesson:




South Africa has played three tests at the Gabba (including the first one ever, in 1931, which Australia won by an innings and 163 runs) but none since 1963; seven at the Adelaide Oval; and two at the WACA (which was opened in 1970, and so due to the Apartheid ban, South Africa did not play their first test there until 2005.)

Over those 12 matches, South Africa has won three, lost five, and drawn the rest.

South Africa has never won at the Gabba, but they have won two of their seven matches in Adelaide, and they have not lost at the WACA, drawing their first ever match there in 2005 and then winning their second match there in 2008 by six wickets.

Australia, throughout the years, have been quite dominant on their home patches, including these three grounds. Since 1884, they have played 163 test matches at either Brisbane, Adelaide, or Perth, winning 91 and only losing 34, with one tie and the rest draws. A winning percentage of nearly 56%.

And so despite the fact that South Africa are the number one test side on the planet (whatever that means), I think they will struggle down under.

My predictions (subject to change):

Brisbane: Australia win

Adelaide: Australia win

Perth: Draw

More soon.



Grounded, part 1

Now that the World T20 is finally over (belated congrats to the West Indies), I guess we can move on and talk about test cricket again. Thankfully. (I am just going to go ahead and ignore the fact that the Champions League T20 is happening).

We have two big Test series to look forward to this fall: England in India and South Africa in Australia. The number two test side against the number five test side, and the number one test side against the number four test side. Both should be entertaining, and thanks to the new Willow TV, I will be able to watch both. And so today’s post is the first in a long series of posts previewing both series.

I will start with some bits about the grounds in the India v England series.

The four grounds being used for the tests are: the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Eden Gardens in Kolkata, and the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.

Geography lesson:




And Nagpur:

England has played one test at the Motera, six at the Wankhede, eight at Eden Gardens, and none at Nagpur.

Their combined record for the four stadiums is three wins, six losses, and eight draws.

Two of the wins came in Mumbai with the third at Eden Gardens. So England has won more matches at the Wankhede despite playing two more matches at Eden Gardens.

It’s a small sample size, surely, but if history is our guide, than England’s best chance for a win will come in the second test in Mumbai.

Also, the stadium in Nagpur has only hosted three previous tests: Australia in 2008, South Africa in 2010, and New Zealand also in 2010. All three matches produced a result, with India beating Australia and New Zealand but losing to South Africa. As such, we can expect a result when England visit in December.

Conversely, at the Sardar Patel Stadium there have been 11 tests but only five have produced results, including only two of the last seven matches at the ground, so we can probably expect a draw there during the series this fall, as well.

And so, using the above information, my early prediction for the series is as follows (subject to change):

Ahmedabad: Draw

Wankhede: England win

Kolkata: India win

Nagpur: toss up, but should be a doozy, and we should get a result

More soon.


Home Sweet Home

And so the hosts Sri Lanka are in the finals of the World T20.

They will face the winners of tomorrow’s match between Australia and the West Indies but no matter who the face I think Sri Lanka will be considered favorites because, of course, they will have home field advantage.

Which got me thinking: how have the hosts fared in other cricket world cups (both ODI as well as T20) and are they receiving a home field advantage to the point where the ICC should look into holding their tournaments in neutral locations such as the UAE, for example?

In the ODI format, there have been 10 World Cups. The host nation has only won the tournament twice, 1996 (Sri Lanka) and of course 2011 (India). The caveat there being that both those tournaments were hosted by three different nations (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India in 1996 and Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh last year) and the final of the ’96 tournament was held in Pakistan.

It is also an admittedly small sample size but interesting that both tournaments where a host nation won were on the Subcontinent.

How did the host nations that did not win perform?

Here’s a list:

1975, England: lost in the semi-finals to Australia (winner: West Indies)

1979, England: lost in the final to the West Indies (winner: West Indies)

1983, England: lost in the semi-finals to India (winner: India)

1987, India & Pakistan: both teams won their respective groups but both lost in the semi-finals; India to England and Pakistan to Australia (winner: Australia)

1992, Australia and New Zealand: Australia did not qualify for the knockout stages, while New Zealand lost in the semi-finals (winner: Pakistan)

1996, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan: Sri Lanka won the whole thing, India lost to Sri Lanka in the semi-finals (match held in India) while Pakistan lost to India in the quarter-finals (match also held in India)

1999, England: finished fourth in the their group and did not qualify for the second round (super sixes) (winner: Australia)

2003, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe: Oddly, South Africa did not qualify for the super sixes, while its fellow hosts did. Zimbabwe did not however advance to the knockout stages, but Kenya did, where they lost to India in the semi-finals. (winner: Australia)

2007, the West Indies: The Windies won their group but did not advance past the super sixes (winner: Australia)

2011, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan: India won the whole thing, as mentioned, beating fellow host Sri Lanka in the final. Bangladesh did not make it past the super eights.

And in the T20 version there have been three world cups, and the host nation has not won of any of them.

2007, South Africa: advanced to second round (super eights) but did not advance to knockout stages (winner: India)

2009, England: same as South Africa in ’07 (winner: Pakistan)

2010, West Indies: same as England in ’09 and South Africa in ’07 (winner: England)


Based on all of the above, it looks as though the ICC should continue to select host nations using the same format they currently use, as it does not seem to provide an unnecessarily unfair home field advantage to the host nations. And there even does not seem to be an advantage based solely on conditions. Subcontinental teams do not seem to have an unfair advantage in subcontinental conditions, for example.


Looking at other sports as I am want to do:

Football has recently taken to awarding major tournaments to countries that are not known as world footballing powerhouses. They do this under the guise of growing the game around the world, but it might have a little bit to do with not giving the home field advantage to teams that simply do not need it.

A couple examples here include the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 1994 World Cup in the USA…etc. Meanwhile UEFA has given hosting rights of its championship recently to Austria, Switzerland, and Poland.

Of course my theory is shot to hell because the 2014 tournament is being held in Brazil.

A quick survey shows that in the 19 FIFA World Cups, the hosts have won five times: Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934, West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978, and France in 1998. Meanwhile in the 14 European Championships, the hosts have won three times: Spain in 1964, Italy in 1968, and France in 1984.

And just for fun, and because it is more similar to cricket in that there are only handful of nations where the sport is popular, a look at rugby: in the seven World Cups, the hosts have won three of them (New Zealand in 1987, South Africa and Matt Damon in 1995, and New Zealand in 2011).

Just based on percentages, Rugby is the sport that should have a serious think about having its tournaments in neutral locations.


To sum up:

In the 50 over cricket world cup, the host nation has won 20% of the time.

20 over cricket world cup: 0%

FIFA World Cup: 26%

UEFA Championships: 21%

Rugby World Cup: 43%


All of that said: I will be cheering for the West Indies tomorrow, and Sri Lanka on Sunday.