Comparing IPL and T20 WC strike rates: Why the world is falling behind franchise cricket - The IPL 2023

Comparing IPL and T20 WC strike rates: Why the world is falling behind franchise cricket

Comparing IPL and T20 WC strike rates: Why the world is falling behind franchise cricket


The recently concluded edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) spawned conversations about the direction in which T20 cricket was headed as teams posted scarcely believable scores, and some even chased them down in the same contest.

With the 2024 IPL season logging a staggering average tournament strike rate of 150.58 — the highest ever in its history by a distance — the ensuing conversations were inevitable about the evolving nature of the game and the need to adapt to it.

The consensus was that there would be some at the forefront of the revolution, while the reactionaries would be left to fend for themselves.

With a T20 World Cup dawning and national squads being announced during the course of the IPL, there were polarising opinions of certain inclusions and omissions, with the recency bias of the aggressive brand of cricket on display coming into play.

But cricketers are creatures of circumstance as much as of instinct, and the former seems to supersede the latter when the stakes are high.

Quite counter-intuitively, the last two editions of the T20 World Cup have been the slowest scoring in terms of tournament strike rates, and the most attacking batters in franchise cricket seem to curb their instincts when they turn out in national colours on the global stage.

From rule innovations to conditions and reduced margin for errors, here is a deep dive into how and why international T20 cricket, particularly World Cups, may not be keeping pace with the stratospheric standards set by franchise leagues and that there may still be a place under the sun for style and finesse.

Adaptability is key: With the T20 World Cup being hosted in turns by different countries, batters like Nicholas Pooran are often forced to adapt to varying conditions within a short period, resulting in reduced risk-taking and lower strike rates.

Adaptability is key: With the T20 World Cup being hosted in turns by different countries, batters like Nicholas Pooran are often forced to adapt to varying conditions within a short period, resulting in reduced risk-taking and lower strike rates. , Photo Credit: Getty Images

Adaptability is key: With the T20 World Cup being hosted in turns by different countries, batters like Nicholas Pooran are often forced to adapt to varying conditions within a short period, resulting in reduced risk-taking and lower strike rates. , Photo Credit: Getty Images

What does the data tell us?

There has been a stark contrast in the strike rates of batters across the IPL and the T20 World Cup. In the IPL, the strike rates have generally shown an upward trend over the years, with occasional fluctuations.

One major dip in strike rate was during the 2009 edition, which was moved to South Africa due to a clash with the Indian general elections.

The second drop from the trend was during the 2021 season, which was held in the United Arab Emirates following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the previous year.

Conversely, in T20 World Cups, the strike rates have shown more variability, with no consistent upward or downward trend.

The lowest strike rate recorded during the T20 World Cup was in the 2021 edition held in the UAE. Since the IPL held here in the same year shows a drop in tournament strike rate too, the conditions at the venues could have been the major factor affecting the rate of scoring.

Another example of the conditions defining the scoring rate is the year 2016. The T20 World Cup was held in India for the first time that year, showing a spike in strike rates due to the flat pitches on offer.

The following chart indicates the strike rates of Indian batters across T20 World Cups:

The inaugural edition of the World Cup in 2007 was an anomaly, with the team mainly comprising younger players who were still adjusting to the new format.

The following five World Cups saw a drop in strike rates before a change in approach in how India plays T20 cricket resulted in teams attacking a lot more over the last two editions.

When comparing the individual strike rates of batters who have scored the most runs in T20 World Cups with their corresponding numbers in the IPL, we see a similar trajectory (See Table 3 on page 24).

Only the Sri Lankan duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan have had better strike rates in T20 World Cups compared to the IPL.

In the case of batters known for their aggressive hitting ability — Chris Gayle, Jos Buttler and AB de Villiers — there is a clear indication that their strike rates drop considerably during the international cup competition.

So, why is the IPL quicker?

Determined to succeed: Virat Kohli has repeatedly faced criticism for his strike-rate in T20s, despite delivering high scores.  However, changes in -batting strategy — such as the slog-sweep against spinners — bore fruit during Royal Challengers Bengaluru's late resurgence this IPL.

Determined to succeed: Virat Kohli has repeatedly faced criticism for his strike-rate in T20s, despite delivering high scores. However, changes in -batting strategy — such as the slog-sweep against spinners — bore fruit during Royal Challengers Bengaluru's late resurgence this IPL. , Photo Credit: The Hindu Photo Library

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Determined to succeed: Virat Kohli has repeatedly faced criticism for his strike-rate in T20s, despite delivering high scores. However, changes in -batting strategy — such as the slog-sweep against spinners — bore fruit during Royal Challengers Bengaluru's late resurgence this IPL. , Photo Credit: The Hindu Photo Library

Biggest stakes

For all the pride and prestige carried by the IPL, the World Cup is a far bigger stage with a greater prize at stake. The value is also compounded due to its irregular frequency, which contrasts with the yearly affair that is the IPL.

Also at play at the World Cup stage there is a sense of national pride, meaning teams and their batters naturally have a propensity to play it safer.

The best example of this is the variance of India's batting strike rate at T20 World Cups, and a parallel can be drawn from another sport, football.

Since the turn of the century, the quadrennial FIFA World Cup – a snappier version, similar to the T20 World Cup – has always been a lower-scoring event than the Premier League, arguably the most popular football competition in the world.

The following chart shows a clear trend in Premier League matches, with many more goals scored in comparison to the quadrennial FIFA World Cup.

While the gap between the two competitions has reduced over time, there remains a sizeable difference in the goals-per-match ratio between the two events.

Therefore, national pride and increased jeopardy in international competitions are major factors defining performances across multiple sporting disciplines.

tournament

The recently concluded IPL season had 74 matches, with each team playing a minimum of 14 games. The 2024 T20 World Cup has just 55 games, with teams assured of only four opening group games.

A longer tournament with a round-robin format allows teams to play a far more aggressive brand of cricket, as the law of averages will eventually come to their rescue.

But in a shorter tournament, that wouldn't necessarily be the case, as one misstep could potentially spell doom for a team.

constant conditions

In the IPL, batters are up against consistently familiar conditions since the tournament is almost always hosted in India.

This familiarity with grounds, weather conditions, and even bowling attacks provides batters with regularity, which in turn helps in easier run scoring.

But, with the T20 World Cup being hosted in turns by different countries, batters are often forced to adapt to varying conditions within a short period, resulting in reduced risk-taking and lower strike rates.

home advantage

IPL also provides teams and batters with the advantage of a home venue, often fine-tuned to their benefit.

In the latest edition of the IPL, teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders maximise their run-scoring ability at their home venues by setting up shorter boundaries and flatter pitches.

But in the T20 World Cup, hosted by a single nation, barring the host, every other team will play their games at a neutral venue, which may or may not suit the team's and its batters' strengths.

Uncapped players

Though the IPL is blessed with the presence of almost all the global T20 superstars, the nature of the tournament rules — a maximum of four overseas players — means that every team has to rely on a string of uncapped players to fill their ranks.

Thus, in the IPL, batters have a chance to make merry against bowlers who are not too experienced. In T20 World Cups, no such restrictions are imposed on teams, resulting in better and more potent bowling attacks.

innovations in the rules

The spike in run-scoring in the last two editions of the IPL is partly down to the introduction of the 'Impact Player' rule.

The provision of an impact player has allowed teams to press harder with the bat as it provides the safety net of an extra batter in case a collapse ensues up the order.

The Big Bash, too, has had a spate of such tinkering, aiming to provide innovation to the sport.

This included a floating two-over PowerPlay, called Power Surge, and the X-factor substitution, which is a variant of the Impact Player.

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