Data viz predicts 2015 Cricket World Cup high scoring games

With smaller boundaries, bigger bats, fitter athletes, expectant crowds and lucrative media deals at stake, it’s no wonder we’re seeing higher scores in short-form cricket.

Whether good for the game or not, it’s clear that the balance between bat and ball has firmly swung in the batsmen’s favour. So which match-ups at this, the 2015 International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup, are likely to produce the biggest run-fests?

Note to the newbie: Feeling a little lost? Like a bit more context? Check out our inaugural data blog for the 2015 Cricket World Cup HERE >

Top 20 highest aggregate Cricket World Cup scores (1975 – 20th Feb 2015)

The One Day International (ODI) World Cup, held every four years since 1975, has produced many memorable moments – including high-scoring encounters.

India and England hold the highest aggregate score of any match at the Cricket World Cup, hitting a combined total of 676 runs in their epic 2011 encounter.

Australia and South Africa come in second place, amassing 671 runs in their 2007 World Cup match-up.

But what’s particularly interesting to note here, is that CanadaNew Zealand is the only pairing with multiple World Cup encounters that have resulted in combined scores inside the top 20 highest aggregate World Cup scores of all time.

This insight highlights an important factor when trying to pinpoint which match-ups at the 2015 Cricket World Cup might produce run-fests: The frequency of high scoring bouts between two teams. It’s also important to analyze the number of times two teams have squared-off to produce huge combined scores, rather than just assessing the top combined scores in isolation. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Top 50 highest aggregate Cricket World Cup scores (1975 – 20th Feb 2015)

The below chart displays the top 50 highest aggregate Cricket World Cup scores – the combined total of both innings – from 1975 to the 20th February 2015.

That is, it represents the cumulative total number of runs scored in World Cup matches between two particular teams – providing that the total number of runs scored in that encounter was ranked among the top 50 all-time aggregate scores.

Hint: The darker the shade of blue, the higher the accumulative runs scored (combination of both teams’ innings during a world cup match)

Looking at this enlarged dataset, from this different perspective, offers new understanding when trying to track-down high-scoring match-ups at the Cricket World Cup.

Straight away, we can see that co-hosts Australia have been involved in high-scoring games against all nine other full ICC members / test playing nations over the history of the world cup. This suggests that, over the course of the Cricket World Cup, Australia has been able to consistently amass large totals and / or chase down (or come close to chasing down) significant totals set by the opposing team.

So we should keep an eye on Australia – especially if they encounter Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka or the West Indies.

We can also see the darker block of blue that represents Canada and New Zealand’s two aforementioned meetings.

However, the darkest blue blocks represent world cup clashes between India and Sri Lanka (1,683 total runs) and India and Pakistan (1,608 total runs). These statistics are worth exploring in greater detail.

The crown of the sub-continent

This data set captures the long-standing rivalry between the three powers of cricket in the sub-continent: India vs Sri Lanka vs Pakistan.

In fact, a total of eight Cricket World Cup games played between these nations make the top 50 highest aggregate scores in world cup history. So for batting fireworks during the 2015 Cricket World Cup, keep track of these historically fiery contests.

The three-way rivalry has already resulted in one heated match during this year’s world cup between India and Pakistan (524 total runs scored at Adelaide Oval).

But we know that sporting fans don’t just tune in for the close encounters. The massive blowouts and embarrassing annihilations are almost equally as captivating. I mean, really – is there anything better than seeing your team absolutely trouncing a hapless opposition?

Forgettable records: Lowest all-time scores at the Cricket World Cup

In recent cricketing history, especially with the proliferating popularity of 20/20 cricket, we’ve seen strong emphasis placed on batting performances. With that shift, it’s easy to forget the importance of bowling and fielding prowess. However, as the teams in the below chart will attest, a fierce bowling attack and supremacy in the field can dismantle batting orders, restricting the opposition to embarrassingly low scores.

There have been 17 Cricket World Cup innings that have been restricted to 100 runs or less. Canada are the unfortunate record holders for the lowest innings score at a world cup, with Sri Lanka bowling them out for just 36 runs in their 2003 match. They also suffer an additional indignation, also holding the second lowest total (45 runs against England).

As you would expect, non-Test-playing nations (or affiliate / associate cricket teams) hold most of the record-low scores (10 out of 17). However, interestingly, seven Test-playing teams also make the all-time-losers-list. A combination of strong oppositions, and capitulation under national pressure, saw Pakistan bowled out for 74 by England (1992 Cricket World Cup), Sri Lanka succumbed to the West Indies with just 86 runs on-the-board (1975 Cricket World Cup), and England were bailed out for just 93 runs against Australia – also at the 1975 Cricket World Cup.

Regardless of these results, your safest bet to avoid witnessing miniscule scores at the 2015 Cricket World Cup is to avoid watching matches between Test-playing nations and cricket minnows.

That’s stumps

Having said that, it’s not unusual for one of the affiliate teams to sneak through the pool stage of the tournament. So who has the best shot of surpassing expectations in 2015 – Afghanistan, Scotland, Ireland, Zimbabwe, UAE or Bangladesh?

Logic would suggest Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would be your best bets – at least they’ve played Test match cricket! But, Ireland have already toppled the West Indies by four wickets during this tournament. So perhaps the luck of the Irish will see them scrape through to the final eight at the 2015 Cricket World Cup?

Stay tuned as we use Business Intelligence and data visualization to help you pick some winners at the pointy end of the tournament.