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Often in international test cricket the captain that wins the toss chooses to bat first. This is largely because the pitches tend to deteriorate meaning batting becomes more difficult and going first is an advantage. I wonder though, how much of an advantage is it to win the toss?

What percentage of test matches end with the team that won the the toss winning the the match? (How does this compare to the percent won teams losing the toss, and matches drawn?)

What's the average run score for teams who win the toss and teams that loose the toss?

*I'm after figures for the team winning the toss, not the team batting first - occasionally the toss winning captain will choose to bat second! However, it would be interesting to compare the figures for times toss winners bat first and second too!

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There's more than one question here. Normally I'd point you to Cricinfo, where you could work this out, but here goes:

What percentage of test matches end with the team that won the the toss winning the the match?

Win toss, win match - 34.8043% - source: totals from Cricinfo Statsguru query

Lose toss,win match - 31.2556% - source: totals from Cricinfo Statsguru query

Win toss, draw match - 33.7579% - source: totals from Cricinfo Statsguru query

Lose toss,draw match - 33.7579% - source: totals from Cricinfo Statsguru query

From the same queries above, the average score for sides winning the toss is 31.71, which for sides losing the toss it's 31.9.

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Just out of a practical point of view it matters a significant amount in Test cricket. Traditionally in five day cricket you really don want to bat in the 4th innings.

The pitch no matter how well prepared will have experienced wear and tear. By the fifth day it will show and your teams spinners will be having a field day. You can also experience variable bound for your seamers that generally make batting a nightmare.

Although this is true in most condition it is taken to the extreme in the Sub-Continent. There I must say the wickets are often very unsporting and by the fifth day the wickets are such a nightmare that batting becomes virtually impossible.

In those condition the team bating 1st and 3rd is at a great advantage.

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To refine TrueDub's answer somewhat, we can completely ignore drawn and tied matches - obviously that's going to result in one win and one loss, and given that it's extremely unlikely for there to be any significant bias towards the "better" or "worse" team winning a coin toss, those results can be safely ignored for the purposes of seeing if winning the toss gives an advantage.

Out of the 1452 matches that ended in a (non-tie) result that Cricinfo gives data for, the team that won the toss won 765 (52.686%) of them, losing 687 (47.314%). From this it's reasonable to assume that winning the coin toss probably gives a slight advantage under at least some conditions, although not enough to be too much more significant than statistical noise.

Unfortunately, I do not believe it's possible to easily get the average runs scored for each team - TrueDub posted the average runs per wicket, but that can be heavily misleading as it is common for a Test match to end without 40 wickets being taken. It seems like Cricinfo does not have the numbers you are looking for, though.

TL;DR: The team that wins the toss wins about 1 in 40 more matches than they'd expect to.

protected by Philip Kendall Oct 7 '18 at 16:25

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