Home advantage in cricket is associated mostly with the Test format. Each host country has specific conditions and pose unique challenges in their own way. Beauty lies in the fact that every country you tour, you know what kind of pitches and conditions to expect and still find it challenging to get adapted to the conditions. This is the very reason why away wins are rated so highly in Test cricket.
This analysis will give an idea on which countries have been the easiest and toughest to tour for batsmen, bowlers and teams a whole, by taking into account various parameters. The time period is chosen since every team must have toured every other country atleast once in a period just over 4 years.
For determining the easiest and toughest countries to tour, the parameters used are as follows:
- Batting average
- Runs per Completed Innings vs Ease of Scoring Runs
- Bowling Strike Rate
- Defensive Bowling Index
- Runs Scored vs Runs Conceded per Completed Innings Ratio
- Batsmen have the lowest average on West indian pitches since 2016, i.e, 24.89
- India, New Zealand and Australia have been the places where batsmen average above 30 in the given period.
But does this depict the complete picture? The countries with high average have generally been exceptional at home. So the home team’s high average might have inflated the overall numbers. Let us have a look at how the numbers stack up for the home and away sides in these nations:
- India has the highest difference (more than 22) between batting averages of home and away team; having the highest average for a home side and the second lowest average for the away team.
- Sri Lanka and West Indies are the only places where away batsmen have fared better than the home batsmen.
- Away batsmen have the lowest average in South Africa and in no country has away batsmen averaged above 30 except Sri Lanka.
Runs per Completed Innings vs Ease of Scoring:
The following scatter plot has difference in runs per completed innings between home and away teams in the x-axis and difference in balls taken to score 100 runs between home and away teams in the y-axis.
- India has been one of the most difficult to tour for batsmen, where a completed away team innings is nearly 240 runs shorter than the home team and the away teams take nearly 40 balls more than the home team for scoring 100 runs.
- In West Indies and Sri Lanka the away teams score a bit more than the home team. South Africa, West indies and Sri Lanka are the countries where away teams tend to score faster.
Overall, in Sri Lanka and West Indies the away teams have been more effective than the home team. The difference is massive in case of India, both in terms of runs per innings as well as ease of scoring. Keeping it tight is the best way of getting wickets, even in Test cricket and the comparatively flat Indian wickets prove that.
- Bowlers have the best strike rate (52.1) in South Africa.
- A bowler takes almost 15 balls more to pick a wicket in Australia than in South Africa.
Similar to batting average, the bowling strike rate numbers might also be influenced by high difference in home and away teams. Lets have a look at the Home-Away segregation:
- Overall, the ease of dismissal is the best in West Indies for an away team, followed by England and Bangladesh.
- The difference in Strike Rate is huge in India and Australia; 24.6 and 23.5 respectively.
- Only in West Indies, the away team takes lesser balls than the home team for each dismissal.
Defensive Bowling Index:
Defensive Bowling Index is indicative of how defensive or attacking the bowling attack of a team is. Lower value signifies more attacking approach and higher value signifies a defensive approach.
Defensive Bowling Index = (Balls per Run – Wickets per hundred balls)*100
- South Africa is the most attacking home bowling unit, followed by England.
- The difference in defensive index is massive in South Africa, indicating the dominance of home bowling unit.
- Away bowling units are the most defensive in Australia and UAE, but not very far from the home team in case of UAE.
Ratio of Runs Scored vs Runs Conceded per Completed Innings by Away Team:
- India has been the most difficult host nation for away bowlers and at the same time, the second most difficult for batsmen. While on one side home side piles up runs, the away teams succumb to collapses. Australia is almost similar.
- Sri Lanka and West Indies have been the best places to tour in recent times.
Overall we can say India and Australia have been the most hostile hosts. West Indies is one of the best places to tour if you are a bowler and Sri Lanka if you are a batsman.
One can say that the numbers are highly influenced by the quality of the home side. But that is what you are expected to face when you tour a country. Conditions along with the home team are the challenges that a touring team faces, not the conditions alone.
[Note – Only Matches since 1 Jan, 2016 to 7 Jul, 2020 have been considered. The ongoing series between England and West Indies has not been taken into account]