Does batting second in T20 world cup cricket offer a crucial advantage? A statistics professor explains

Mitchell Marsh hits a boundary during Australia’s triumphant run chase in the world cup final. David Gray/AAP Image

While Australian cricket fans celebrate their team’s triumph at the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the tournament’s results have sparked a debate over whether the team that bats second has a potentially match-winning advantage before a ball is even bowled.

Of the 45 matches played at the tournament, 29 (around 64%) were won by the team batting second. Put another way, teams batting second won almost twice as many matches as teams batting first.

Some critics have gone as far as to suggest teams can “win on a coin toss” when deciding which side will bat first.

There are a range of suggested advantages to batting second, particularly in shorter forms of cricket. Perhaps chief among them is knowing exactly what score will win the game, and being able to plan the innings accordingly. As the afternoon or evening progresses, dew can also form on the ground, making it harder for bowlers to grip the ball and for fielders to retrieve it, and easier for batters to hit balls that “skid onto the bat” rather than changing direction.

But what do the stats actually say? Does the coin toss really confer a crucial advantage? Let’s have a look at the numbers.

Read the full article by Professor Chris Drovandi at The Conversation here.

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