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The Effect of Different Grounds in T20 Cricket

Given all of the many T20 competitions that take place around the globe in the modern day, there are a huge number of matches taking places each year at many different grounds. While it sounds obvious, there are very few grounds that play similarly with pitches varying in preparation, boundaries being of different lengths and even different weather conditions affecting the score that teams should be aiming for.

In recent articles on both batting and bowling ratings, I have mentioned that I adjust expected runs by the ground at which the match is being played and in this article, I intend on looking in a little more depth at how different grounds vary in a number of ways. Even grounds at which the par score are the same can look quite different once you look in detail at how that par score might be expected to come about.

Firstly, a quick mention of the data used in this article. In my database of ball-by-ball information, there are just over 150 different cricket grounds that have hosted matches in the past five years - of these 150+ grounds, there are 96 that have seen at least 600 first innings deliveries (i.e. five full innings of deliveries), so we shall narrow the data down to these grounds for the analysis here.

So, let us first look at the average first innings scores at these grounds. The table below shows both the top 10 and the bottom 10 highest-scoring T20 grounds and the average first innings scores:

Now, most of the grounds at the top of this list are not likely to be too much of a surprise. The M Chinnaswarmy Stadium, home to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, is renowned as a batting paradise, while Seddon Park was the venue for Richard Levi's record-setting T20 century back in 2012. Similarly, the likes of St Lawrence Ground, Eden Park and Trent Bridge are ground that are well-known to suit batsmen.

At the other end of the scale, we see an interesting number of grounds located in the West Indies. Providence Stadium in Guyana has an incredibly low average first innings score, while the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia and Sabina Park in Jamaica also feature in the bottom 10.

Now, let us look at which grounds see the most sixes. Logically, we might imagine that there is a pretty strong relationship between high-scoring grounds and six-hitting. To an extent, this is true. The top five grounds in terms of balls/6 are Seddon Park (12.9 balls/6), Central Broward Regional Park Stadium (14.6), Eden Park (14.6), M Chinnaswarmy (15.0) and Wanderers Cricket Ground (15.0), all of which appear in the top 10 highest-scoring grounds.

However, there are a couple of interesting ones to look at. St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury actually only ranks 41st out of the 96 grounds in terms of balls per six, only seeing a six in the first innings every 24.0 deliveries, implying that there will be an average of five 6s in each first innings.

In contrast, we find the Beausejour Stadium, ranked 92nd out of 96 in terms of average score appearing at number 22 in terms of balls per six, seeing a six every 21.5 deliveries, while Sabina Park follows at 23rd in balls per six.

The table below shows the top 10 and bottom 10 grounds in terms of deliveries per six:

So, if there are a relatively low number of sixes being hit at St Lawrence Stadium in Canterbury, one might surmise that there are plenty of singles, twos and boundaries being hit and this does seem to be the case. We find that Canterbury shows up ranked 3rd in terms of balls/4, which could either be a reflection of the type of batsmen that Kent tend to select in their T20 team or the fact that there are long boundaries that it is hard to clear. It also appears ranked 1st in terms of the fewer dot balls at just 33.2%.

The next question is whether facing spin or non-spin bowling tends to make a difference at certain grounds. The table below shows a selection of seven grounds and the balls/6 against spin and non-spin bowling:

Being one of the biggest six-hitting grounds, it is no surprise to see that the M Chinnaswarmy Stadium is a ground where it is relatively easy to hit sixes off almost any type of bowling, particularly when you have the likes of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers playing there regularly. Similarly Warner Park is a ground where sixes can be easily hit off all types of bowling.

The Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACAVDCA Cricket Stadium, a venue used by a number of IPL franchises over the past five years, is a ground where we can see a large discrepancy between the ease of six hitting off spin bowling compared to non-spin bowling. The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune is another ground where we see this discrepancy between spin and non-spin bowling.

The Brisbane Cricket Ground interestingly appears to be easier to hit big shots off the quicker bowlers - a trend that we also see at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo, which may reflect the fact that Sri Lanka are generally known for producing quality spin bowlers as opposed to quicker bowlers.

Finally, we see a ground like Grace Road, where it seems that it can be tricky to hit boundaries off any type of bowling with figures upward of 30.0 balls per six against both spin and non-spin bowling.


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