ODIs in overdrive, Tests in fast forward: the key stats of 2023

    Cricket in 2023

    All the big stats trends from cricket in the year gone by

    Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill both made over 1000 runs in ODIs in 2023 at averages of over 50 and strike rates of over 100  •  Associated Press

    A last hurrah for ODIs?
    For a format that is supposedly on its last legs, the 50-over game had quite a run in 2023, thanks largely to the World Cup. For a start, 218 men’s ODIs were played in the year, the first time in ODI history that over 200 games have been played in a calendar year. Even if you restrict the teams to the top 13 (the 12 Test-playing nations plus Netherlands, who qualified for the World Cup), there were still 149 matches, the most in a year. Four teams – Bangladesh, India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka – played 30 or more ODIs, the first time this has happened since 2007.

    ESPNcricinfo Ltd

    A whopping 142 centuries were scored, the highest by far in a year – the next best is 107, in 2015 – and almost as many as in the three previous years put together. (There were 151 scored from 276 matches from 2020 to 2022.) And the 2306 sixes struck in 2023 were almost 1000 more than in the second-placed year – 1332 in 2019. Before 2023, there had only been ten instances of a batter scoring 1000 or more runs at a 50-plus average and a 100-plus strike rate in a calendar year, and the last of those was in 2018; in 2023 alone, four batters achieved that feat – Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Daryl Mitchell and Aiden Markram. In fact, Gill’s ODI aggregate of 1584 was the first instance of a batter scoring 1500-plus runs in a year since Matthew Hayden’s 1601 runs in 2007. Between 1996 and 2000, there were six such instances.

    ESPNcricinfo Ltd

    But while plenty of runs were scored in the format, it wasn’t all smooth sailing all the time. There were 13 instances of a team being bowled out for under 100, which is also a record for a calendar year – the previous highest was only nine, in 2006. Sri Lanka accounted for four instances, which is the most for any team in a year. Three of those were against India – in a bilateral ODI series early in the year, in the Asia Cup final in Colombo, and in the World Cup game at the Wankhede.

    All those low scores, and several other one-sided games, also meant that an average ODI game lasted fewer deliveries in 2023 than in any previous year. There were 196 completed 50-over games last year, and they lasted an average of 520 balls (86.4 overs). That’s five balls fewer than in 2003, and almost two overs fewer than in 2018. As many as nine 50-over games were completed in under 300 deliveries in 2023; the greatest number of such ODIs in any previous year was only four, in 2007.

    India shone, but without the big prize
    In 2023, India played 35 ODIs, and they won close to four games per defeat. Their 27-7 win-loss record is one of the best by any team in the history of ODIs – with a 30-match cut-off, you’d have to go back 20 years to find an instance of a team doing better: Australia’s 30-5 record in 2003 is the best win-loss record by any team ever. The averages for the two teams are very similar too: in the early 40s with the bat, and the early 20s with the ball.

    There have been 53 instances of a team playing 30 or more ODIs in a year, and only in two of those – Australia, in 2003 and 2007 – has a team managed a larger gap between batting and bowling averages than India’s 19.58 in 2023. The major difference, of course, is that Australia underlined their dominance in both those years by lifting the World Cup, while India stumbled at the last hurdle.

    With bat and ball, India racked up splendid numbers. In fact, the top three run-getters and wicket-takers in ODIs in 2023 were all from India. (Mohammed Shami and Sandeep Lamichchane of Nepal were joint-third with 43 wickets, but Shami finished with the better average.) There have only been two previous instances when players from the same team took the top three positions in both categories: Pakistan in 1992, and India in 1998. In both those years, the top teams had the advantage of having played more matches: in 1992, Pakistan played 33% more games than the next best (28 to 21), while in 1998, India played a whopping 54% more (40 to 26). In comparison, India’s advantage in 2023 was miniscule: they played 35 games, while the next highest was New Zealand’s 33.

    ESPNcricinfo Ltd

    India’s top order was in terrific form through the year. Their top five averaged 52.47, the highest ever for a team in a calendar year (minimum 25 matches). Again, Australia’s 2007 form is the closest, when their top five averaged 51.23 from 34 games. Four of India’s batters scored 1000-plus runs – Gill, Virat Kohli, Rohit and KL Rahul – and each averaged more than 51. There have only been two other instances of four batters from a team scoring 1000 or more ODI runs in a calendar year – India in 1998 and Sri Lanka in 2006. (The similar instance of four Indians in 2007 was due to runs scored for Asia XI.) However, if you add the filter of a 50-plus average, then 2023 is the only one that still makes the cut. India’s 19 hundreds in the year also equals their own record, in 2017, for most hundreds by members of a team in a year.

    All of these records and milestones lost much of their sheen, though, when India fell short in their biggest examination, on November 19.

    Quick finishes in Tests too
    For the first time in a calendar year, the average run rate in Tests exceeded 3.5. The 2023 average of 3.52 was significantly higher than the next best, of 3.38, in 2005, and 3.31, in 2022. Obviously that was largely due to England’s all-out-attack strategy – they scored at 4.87 – but they also received reasonable support from other teams looking to score quick, though none got anywhere close to England’s rate. Among the teams that played more than one Test, seven scored at a run rate of more than 3.3, compared with just four the previous year. The slowest-scoring team was West Indies, and even they managed a rate of 2.91.

    England’s Bazball blitz continued unabated in 2023, even if the results didn’t all go their way: compared to a 9-3 win-loss record in 2022, they only managed 4-3 in 2023, with one of those wins coming against Ireland. Even so, they stuck to their approach of aggression and more aggression: their run rate of 4.87 is the highest by any team in a calendar year. They exceeded their 2022 run rate of 4.13 – the second best by any team with a six-Test cut-off in a year – by a handy 18%. Those are also two of only three instances when a team has gone at more than four an over after playing six or more Tests in a year.

    All this quick scoring has also meant faster results in Tests. In the 26 matches that ended decisively in 2023, the average number of balls bowled was 1706, which translates into 284.2 overs. That’s the fewest ever in a calendar year with ten decisive Test matches, marginally lower than the average in 1986, which is quite an outlier given that most of the other entries in the top ten are of far more recent vintage. Of the 26 Tests that produced a result last year, 13 lasted fewer than 1800 balls, and ten lasted fewer than 1500 balls.

    ESPNcricinfo Ltd

    The scatter graph below plots the percentage of result Tests with the average balls per result Test, in six-year periods. In the most recent six-year grouping, the result percentage has gone up by almost six points, while the average number of balls per result has decreased by more than 31 overs. That’s a pretty good indication of the direction that Test cricket has been going in, in the last decade or so.

    Along with quick Tests, there were also very few of them in 2023 – 34 in all, which is the fourth-lowest in the last 31 years. One of those three years was 2020, a Covid year, when only 22 Tests were played. The other two were World Cup years, 1996 and 2007. That means 2023 saw the fewest Tests in the last 16 years excluding a Covid year. Add that to the quick Test matches and a jam-packed cricket calendar, and it’s easy to imagine that these numbers will give more ammunition to the theory of four-day Tests being the way to go in future.

    Pace takes a back seat as spinners dominate
    Despite the heroics of Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada and Nandre Burger in the Boxing Day Tests, fast bowlers had a relatively subdued 2023. They collectively averaged 32.81 runs per wicket in Test cricket, which is the poorest in the last nine years, and quite a drop after five consecutive years of sub-30 averages from 2018 to 2022.

    On the other hand, spinners had a wonderful 2023, averaging 31.24, while their strike rate of 58.3 balls per wicket was the best in the last 91 years. Four of the seven bowlers with 30-plus wickets in the year were spinners, and of the six bowlers who took 20-plus wickets at sub-25 averages, five were spinners.

    Most significantly, spinners conceded fewer runs per wicket than the fast bowlers did, which has happened only three times in the last 54 years. The two other instances were in 2004 and 2012, but the difference of 1.57 runs in 2023 is the largest since 1970.

    More numbers from 2023
    4.72 The average run rate in the 50 women’s ODIs played in 2023, the highest in the 34 years when at least ten ODIs have been played. The previous highest was 4.67 in 2022.

    5.47 The overall run rate in women’s T20Is in 2023, third from bottom among the 16 years when at least ten matches have been played. However, that is also due to the fact that as many as 71 teams played the format in 2023. If we restrict the matches to those involving the top eight teams, the run rate goes up to 7.07, the second best among the 15 years where at least ten games were played between these teams.

    101 Number of sixes hit in international matches by UAE’s Muhammad Wasim, which makes him the first player to hit 100-plus sixes in international cricket in a calendar year. Rohit Sharma occupies the next three spots, with 80, 78 and 74 sixes in 2023, 2019 and 2018. Waseem, a 29-year-old opener, played 47 matches in the year – 24 ODIs and 23 T20Is. He hit 47 sixes from 752 deliveries in ODIs and 54 from 531 in T20Is.

    36 Sixes hit by Chamari Athapaththu in international cricket in 2023, which equals the record in international women’s cricket in a calendar year. Deandra Dottin of West Indies also struck as many sixes in 2013. Athapaththu hit 21 of those in ODIs (the next-best in the year was nine) and 15 in T20Is.

    30 Instances of 200-plus targets being chased down in men’s T20s in 2023, the most in any year. The win-loss ratio when chasing targets of 200 or more was 0.204 (30 wins, 147 losses), which is also the best in a year. The previous best, in years when there were at least 20 such matches, was 0.189 (11 wins, 58 losses) in 2020.

    1060 Runs scored by Argentina women’s team in a three-match T20I series against Chile – their totals were 427 for 1, 300 for 6, and 333 for 1. Their average run rate across the series was 17.66, easily the best for a team in a T20I series for men or women.

    3 Number of women’s Tests played in 2023, only the second time since 2007 that as many Tests were played in a year. Australia beat England in June, while India notched up wins against England and Australia late in the year. The England-Australia Test also broke a sequence of six consecutive drawn women’s Tests, dating all the way back to 2017.

    Courtesy: Cricinfo.com

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *