WTC final promises battle for best bowling strikes but which tops the list

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Jasprit bumrah

“These are the bowlers who will win you test matches, as simple as that”, had rightly underlined Virat Kohli in 2015 and the first World Championship test reflected it. India and New Zealand staged the elusive and highly anticipated summit clash at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on June 18 for the inaugural WTC and ICC Test Mace title and the main reason the two teams topped Seven others in the tournament was their bowling attack. Ahead of the final, we take a look at how the attacks from India and New Zealand stood out in 2019-21 and which of the two became the winner.

Using Bowling Score and Strike Rate

In an effort to find the best offense over the two years of WTC, two statistical metrics were used in the article which was introduced in the Cricket Monthly article, ‘The best metric of statistics‘.

In the article, the Average factor compares a team’s average to that of the overall tournament number. But with teams playing at different venues – home and away – throughout the tournament – we compared one team’s average to that of the opposition. The average factor therefore illustrates how a particular bowling attack performed in the competition compared to the combined average of the opposing teams. For example, England averaged 26.7 in 23 tests during WTC, while teams playing against Joe Root’s men averaged 29.58, making the attacking England 1,107 times better. Likewise, the economic rates were compared and the product of the two factors generates the bowling score.

The other metric is the Strike Rate Ratio (SRR), which compares the frequency of wickets taken by a team to that of the opposition. For example, the English bowlers took wickets every 53.8 balls while the teams playing against them combined to register a strike rate of 58.6, implying an SRR of 0.91 – Lesser, the better.

Team Avenue Econ Ave (vs) Econ (vs) Average factor Saving rate factor Bowling Score Exercise rate ratio
England 26.7 2.97 29.58 3.02 1.107865 1.016835 1.126516 0.918089
India 22.15 2.91 35.73 3.16 1.613093 1.085911 1.751674 0.67356
Australia 26.17 2.8 23.9 2.85 0.913259 1.017857 0.929568 1.115768
New Zealand 26.99 2.77 36.37 3.24 1.347536 1.169675 1.576179 0.86756
South Africa 34.33 3.37 26.71 2.96 0.778037 0.878338 0.683379 1.125693
West Indies 37.44 3.01 31.42 2.99 0.839209 0.993355 0.833633 1.184713
Pakistan 39.32 3.28 32.02 2.94 0.814344 0.896341 0.72993 1.101227
Sri Lanka 42.83 3.27 34.62 3.2 0.808312 0.978593 0.791009 1.209877
Bangladesh 44.52 3.32 26.32 2.99 0.591195 0.900602 0.532432 1.525617

The measure clearly highlights the dominance of the bowling attack from New Zealand and India.

Going deeper into their journey at the WTC, the Indian bowlers were only outmatched in one of six rounds they played and that actually happened against Kane Williamson’s men in New Zealand in February 2020. India averaged 29.95 in the two-game series selection. 23 wickets, while New Zealand bowlers chose 38 wickets at just 6:15 p.m. India’s bowling score in the Border-Gavaskar series may be less than 1, but its average factor was over 1 by the end of the epic four-match contest, a figure they pulled off in the absence of their regular attack – Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah injured, Ishant Sharma failed to make it to Australia due to injury, Umesh Yadav limped with calf pain on the second test and R Ashwin s’ has a back injury. Mohammed Siraj, then only two Tests, led the attack in Gabba.

Comparison of the Indian attack during the WTC

Year against the team Average (IND) Economy (IND) Average (vs IND) Economy (vs IND) Average factor Saving rate factor Bowling Score
2019 West Indies 15.58 2.92 37.25 2.85 2.390886 0.976027 2.333569997
2019 South Africa 22.84 2.8 75.44 3.96 3.302977 1.414286 4.671353515
2019 Bangladesh 16.28 3.1 55 4.05 3.378378 1.306452 4.413687881
2020 New Zealand 29.95 3.26 6:15 p.m. 2.67 0.60601 0.819018 0.496333357
2020/21 Australia 29.96 2.98 31.86 2.69 1.063418 0.902685 0.959930915
2021 England 19.06 2.71 28.2 3.19 1.479538 1.177122 1.741596744

New Zealand have also been outclassed in just one of five test series they have contested – in Australia where they were whitewashed in the three-game series. The Blackcaps averaged 41.82 in six innings with 45 wickets, while the Australians took 56 wickets at 19.26.

Year against the team Average (NZ) Economy (NZ) Average (vs NZ) Economy (compared to New Zealand) Average factor Saving rate factor Bowling Score
2019 Sri Lanka 26.87 2.6 38 3.12 1.414216598 1.2 1.69706
2019/20 Australia 41.82 3 19.26 2.76 0.460545194 0.92 0.423702
2020 India 6:15 p.m. 2.67 29.95 3.26 1.650137741 1.220974 2.014775
2020 West Indies 21.05 3.09 55.05 3.61 2.6152019 1.168285 3.055301
2020/21 Pakistan 24.38 2.43 61.4 3.41 2.518457752 1.403292 3.534132

Much of the increase in India’s dominance as a force in trial cricket, is due to their improved attack speed on overseas soil and the very reason has helped the men de Kohli to overcome oppositions during the championship. The Indian point guard picked wickets every 42.9 balls, making it the most formidable attack and the only combination to have a hit rate below 45. The New Zealand attack, comprised mostly of Tim Southee , Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson, recorded a strike rate of 52.9, so picking up a wicket every two overs more than the Indians. But their economy rate of 2.68 was the lowest of the competition.

The Indian attack stands out for the variety it offers – especially in the spin department – led by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. India’s economy rate of 2.81 and hit rate of 48.9 were the best among all spin attacks in the tournament. With Southampton’s pitch helping the spinners, this is where the competition between the two attacks could be decided.

How far have Indian bowlers outperformed others in the WTC?

No less than six Indians are on the list of bowlers – Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Axar Patel – who have played at least five innings at the WTC, recording an average of under 28 and a rate of lower strike over 50. The top four are certainties for the final, Umesh is part of the 15-man squad while Axar missed the game – such is the domination. From New Zealand, three characteristics on the list – Southee, Jamieson and Williamson.


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