Has the balance between the bat and ball changed in the past ten years?

Cricket has come a long way from its inception where a fierce contest between bat and ball was the ultimate ‘Test’ for players making for some fantastic viewing for fans across the world. With constant revisions in the laws governing the game and the advent of Twenty20 cricket, the contest has been seemingly dominated by the bat. This phenomenon has been far more prominent in limited overs cricket than Test cricket. The reasons for this can be traced to a host of different factors including new rules favouring batsmen, flatter pitches around the world, thicker edges of bats or just a change in the sheer mentality of batsmen.

The numbers suggest that there has been a rise in the number of 300+ totals being scored by teams in ODIs with the average number of 300+ totals increasing from 0.25 between 2008-2015 to 0.38 in the past two years. A similar pattern has also emerged in T20 cricket with the average 180+ scores going up from 0.22 between 2008-15 to 0.4 in the past two years. Even the number of hundreds in ODIs and fifties in T20s being scored by batsmen across the world have plunged upwards in the last two years in both formats.

ODI Cricket
Time Frame No. of ODIs Totals over 300 Avg 300 + scores / ODI No. of centuries Avg. Centuries / ODI
2008-15 1057 260 0.25 553 0.52
2016-18 262 99 0.38 173 0.66

 

T20 Cricket
Time Frame No. of T20s Totals over 180 Avg 180 + scores / T20I No. of Fifties Avg. Fifties / T20I
2008-15 423 95 0.22 447 1.06
2016-18 179 71 0.4 210 1.17

 

Bigger scores certainly make for exciting cricket viewing, but the question is about how it is affecting the game itself in the long run. Although the ICC has enforced specifications with regard to thickness of bats that can be used and also introduced the concept of two new balls in ODI cricket, the game still looks to be loaded in favour of batsmen. The data above indicates that batsmen are able to score big runs more in the past two years as compared to the 8 years preceding that.

If the recently concluded India vs South Africa ODI series and the ongoing T20 tri-series between Australia, New Zealand and England are any indications to go by, the likes of Kohli, Warner, Guptil and Morgan are going to continue their dominance over bowlers. That being said, spinners and leg spinners in particular have reinvented themselves and have managed to attain success in limited overs cricket. This has indicated that the art of bowling is still alive and kicking if bowlers manage to adapt to changing times and continue to ring in the changes for their survival.

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