Truii data visualisation, analysis and management Cricket match on Kwato Island near Samarai ca. 1905 crop

Cricket performance on touring: Where is hardest place to tour?

One of the most challenging aspects of test match is cricket performance on touring.

In an earlier post I broadly showed how well test cricket nations took their home form on tour. In this post we break that down by looking at how successful touring teams are in different destinations.

The quick summary:

  • Australia: Tour well in South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand. Pretty ordinary in India and Pakistan
  • England: Great in Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Rubbish in Pakistan
  • South Africa: Good in Australia, England and India. Not so flash in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • West Indies: Pretty good in Australia, England, New Zealand and India. Not so good in South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
  • New Zealand: Good in England, South Africa and Pakistan. Pretty rubbish in India.
  • Pakistan: Great in England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies
  • Sri Lanka: Great in Pakistan. Not so good elsewhere.

I have used the same data as the previous cricket posts from ESPN cricinfo as for the previous test cricket posts.

Touring Performance

I have derived the ‘touring performance’ as the percentage of away wins divided by the percentage of home wins. This simple approach ignors the changing likelihood of a draw for different destinations. I have done the analysis on a head to head basis. For example England and Australia have played 342 matches. For the Australian hosted games, Australia has won 91 of the 176 games (52%), and of those games played in England, Australia has won 49 of the 166 games (30%) so Australia’s touring performance against England is 30%/52% = 58%. That is, when on tour to England Australia’s winning performance is only 58% of their home performance against England.
Based on this method, a touring performance of 100% means that on a head to head basis the team in question wins just as often on tour as they do at home against that opposition.

By breaking it down to head to head and by location, the number of games played between nations can get smallish. For example Sri Lanka has only played the West Indies in the West Indies six times. Because the numbers of matches can get small I have used the entire record (from 1887), so this analysis is definitely not based on recent form. Although about half the international games have been played since 1980. Even so the sample sizes can get pretty small for some head to head comparisons, so I wouldn’t hang my hat on the conclusions drawn here. Non the less it is interesting to check out.

I’ve struggled a little coming up with a succinct way to visualise the results. The matrix bubble plot (for want of a better term) in Figure 1 pretty much covers it. The color coding and bubble size shows touring performance (small and red – poor, smallish and yellow=OK, medium and green=good, blue and big =great). To read the chart, pick your team on the Y axis – and read across the rows to see their touring performance in different countries.

New Zealand’s performance in South Africa stands out – they win twice as often in South Africa as they do at home to South Africa (However that is after only 20 matches between these countries).

What is interesting is how inconsistent the results are. For example if we take England, they are great in Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka, but are rubbish in Pakistan and pretty ordinary in India. Similarly Australia is pretty poor in India and Pakistan but does well elsewhere.

India are interesting. They have a pretty good winning record at home, but only seem to have broken out of their touring hoodoo in New Zealand. Similarly Sri Lanka are don’t perform well on tour, but seem to have the wood on Pakistan when they tour there.

If you look down a column to see how difficult a country is to tour in, Pakistan is tough for most nations, with the exception of New Zealand and Sri Lanka, who carry their home form well there. Australians dread tours to India (although not as much as the Kiwis do), however the South Africans and West Indies do just fine there.


head to head cricket tours

Figure 1: Head to head touring performance since 1887

So if there are any general observations – Pakistan is a great touring team. The West Indies have an awesome overall record (although recent form is pretty poor as seen in an earlier post ). Pakistan is a hard place to tour. As is India unless you are South Africa or the West indies.

You can get all the basic data from ESPN cricinfo. I have included the data-set with the head to head analysis in Truii – just log in and join the ‘Example data’ library and look under ‘blog data’. The tools I used to wrangle the data are part of the Truii data wrangling functionality.
The viz’s are easy to make . All you need to do is create a free Truii account to create and publish your own data visualizations.
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