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:

Brisbane:

Adelaide:

Perth:

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.

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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:

Motera:

Mumbai:

Kolkata:

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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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%

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