Detailed analysis of how well the teams are using the toss result in their favor.
Before the start of every cricket match, a toss occurs which gives either side an option to choose between batting or fielding. Although a cricket match is all about the potential of teams, still a factor of luck is involved during the toss. There is always an ongoing debate on whether the teams are getting an extra edge in the match due to this factor of luck. Faf Du Plessis also said after the Indian tour that had they won any toss in the test series, the result might have been different. Also, it is a general belief that if India had won the toss in the New Zealand test series, they might have won the match there. Does it mean that teams winning the toss at home are winning the matches? How well the teams are using toss for their benefit in different formats? The question always revolves in the cricketing community whether the teams are able to use this flip of a coin in their favor or not? Let’s try to answer these questions case wise in this blog.
The data used for analysis is tabulated manually from StatsGuru (by espncricinfo) of all the international matches played amongst the top 8 test playing nations (according to current ICC Test Rankings) from 2016 to present. The raw data included fields namely Home Team, Away Team, Toss Winner, Match Result, Ground, and format of the match (ODI, T20I, or Test). The matches which were abandoned due to various reasons were not included in the analysis. Tied matches are also not considered in the analysis. Due to the unavailability of data, only the matches played in Lahore are considered as home matches for Pakistan. Edit: The blue columns in the below graphs depict the toss result (Won or Lost).
In the analysis, an attempt is made to analyze the impact of toss on the teams individually in different scenarios. We’ll compare the impact of winning and losing the toss on winning percentage of the teams and try to shortlist the teams, format-wise, which have made good use of the toss and those who are yet to extract the potential of the toss. For test matches, instead of win percent, loss percent is considered for comparison due to the possibility of a draw. Also, we will have a look at the top 10 venues where toss has a major impact on the outcome.
Let’s get started:
1) Overall Stats
In this section, the win percentage of a team when it has won the toss is compared to the same when it has lost the toss. The analysis will be done separately for all formats, namely ODI, T20I, and Tests. The table below shows the number of matches played and the Win Percentage of the team when it has won the toss and when it has lost the toss across different formats of the game.
From the table, it is observed that teams like England, India, and New Zealand have managed to use the toss very well in their favor in ODIs as they win a much larger percentage of matches when they win the toss as compared to when they lose the toss. Teams like Australia, South Africa, and Pakistan show a different trend than the expected one as they seem to be unaffected by the outcome of the toss and unable to use it in their favor.
In the T20Is, it can be said that India is the only team that is able to use the toss in their favor as they have the highest winning percentage (78.9%) when they win the toss which decreases to 60.6% when they lose the toss which is still appreciable. Apart from India, every country shows a trend which is contrary to the expected one, with Australia and South Africa showing an unusually huge gap between the winning percentages when the toss is won and when the toss is lost. This implies that the teams are yet to work upon the toss aspect of the T20I format. Teams are still not able to make decisions in their favor after winning the toss, which is directly depicted by the reverse trend obtained for this format.
Coming to Test matches, a clear trend is observed for every single team that when they have won the toss, they have lost lesser matches than when they have lost the toss. Teams like South Africa, India, and Australia show a much larger gap between the loss percentages. India is yet to lose a match in which they have won the toss, but they lost 40% of the matches when they have lost the toss. Also, South Africa shows an unusually high difference with losing 15.8% matches after winning the toss to losing 70% of the matches after losing the toss. It implies that all teams have realized the potential of the toss in this format and have used it quite efficiently.
2) Home advantage and toss
In the above section, the overall effect of toss on the winning percentage of the teams was analyzed. Now, to get a deeper insight into the effect of toss, the database is divided into the home and away matches for all teams. In this section, the effect of winning and losing the toss in the home is analyzed. An attempt is made to make an inference about the toss factor at home.
In ODIs played at home, England, New Zealand, and South Africa have utilized the toss very efficiently for their win, with England almost winning 87% of the home matches in which they have won the toss, while New Zealand and South Africa winning around 75% of the matches. As observed in the overall trend for Australia, they haven’t been able to utilize the advantage of winning the toss in a home match effectively, as they have won only 65% of the matches winning the toss which decreases to 50%, which can mean no advantage or disadvantage, when they lose the toss. On the other hand, India has played almost unaffected by the toss at home with their win percentage equal to 63% and 67% when they win the toss and lose the toss respectively. So, in a broader sense, it can be observed that the toss gives an extra edge to some teams at home but losing the toss doesn’t imply them losing the match, as they still have winning percentages around 60%-70%. Hence for Teams like India, England, and New Zealand, home advantage plays an important role than the toss, with winning the toss giving them an extra benefit.
Coming to T20Is, as it was observed in the above section that none of the team except India has been able to extract the benefit of winning the toss, no team has been able to use the toss in their favor in the home as well. All teams, except India, have a higher winning percentage when they lose the toss as compared to when they win the toss clearly indicating that all the teams need to work on this aspect as well. Contrary to this, there is the Indian team, which has won 89% of the matches in which they have won the toss which decreases to 57% when they lose the toss. It can be said that India has utilized the toss advantage excellently but they really need to work on winning the T20I match after losing the toss since the dip is highly noticeable.
In the end, let’s come to the longest format of the game, tests. In this format, one can clearly observe that teams are using the benefits of winning the toss at home to the fullest. Teams like Australia, India, and New Zealand are yet to lose a match after winning the toss at home, with England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka losing only 25%, 17%, and 17% matches respectively. When a home team loses the toss, only India, Australia, and New Zealand manage to control their loss percent to a respectable number, remaining teams just lose the match 40% — 90% of the time. This observation clearly suggests that the toss plays a major role in test cricket than the home advantage.
3) Away Matches and Toss
In this section, the winning percentage of a team in away matches is analyzed for different scenarios — when they have won the toss and otherwise. Let’s look at the below table to get an idea of how teams are performing overseas and whether the toss plays an important role or not?
Looking at the table for ODIs in away matches, it can be observed that apart from India and England, no other team has been able to win a significant number of matches regardless of winning the toss or not. India and England have won around 70% of the matches when they have won the toss overseas, whereas other teams find it difficult to cross 30% mark independent of the outcome of the toss. India and England, on the other hand, have won around 60% of the matches even after losing the toss indicating that there is a slight effect of toss on the outcome of these their matches but not good enough to overshadow the strength of them, whereas for other teams the win percentage falls or remains lesser than 50% when they lose the toss in an away match. Hence it can be inferred from this that the Away factor plays a much important role than the toss in away games.
In the T20Is, the old trend continues here as well in which the teams, except India were winning more percent of matches after losing the toss than after winning the toss. Teams like Australia, England and Pakistan saw a jump of around 20% in the percentage of a win after losing the toss from that of after winning the toss. New Zealand has not been affected by the result of the toss by winning an exact 50% of the matches in both cases. This indicates that the teams need to work upon this aspect of the match to increase their win percentage in away T20I matches.
Talking about the test matches now, it can be observed that India, South Africa, and Australia have managed to keep their loss percent below 30%, with India yet to lose a match overseas after winning the toss, but when we look at their loss percent after losing the toss, it shoots up to 60% or even 100%. This indicates that although these teams have performed extremely well after winning the toss overseas, they fail to replicate the same after they have lost the toss. So, a toss plays an important role in deciding the result of a test match overseas. Also, for other teams, the loss percent goes higher or almost remains constant (the exception being New Zealand stats) regardless of winning or losing the toss. So, we can come to a conclusion where we can say that teams are using toss as an important factor in deciding the fate of a test match.
4)Impact of toss at different venues
In the last section, the effect of toss on the result of the match at different venues is analyzed. The winning percentage of the team winning the toss is compared at different venues and the ones having the highest winning percentage are shortlisted. Only those venues are considered in the analysis where at least 5 matches are played between 2016–2020.
As it is observed from the table that the Colombo ground has the highest winning percent after the toss is won, indicating that at this ground, the saying “Win the Toss, Win the Match” goes correct. Next, Vishakhapatnam where the winning percentage is almost 86% followed by Galle at which the winning percentage is 80%. The list indicates that at Sri Lankan and Indian venues, winning a toss plays an important role in deciding the fate of the match.
It can be concluded that in ODIs, only India and England have successfully managed to ignore the away factor with toss playing an important role in their match. Apart from them, all other teams still have the factor of away/home matches superseding the toss. For T20Is, only India has won more percentages of matches after winning the toss than after losing the toss, remaining teams have a higher win percentage after losing the toss. Hence the toss factor is still to be exploited effectively by the teams, as they lose more matches after winning the toss. Coming to the longest format of the game, the test matches, we observed that the teams have used the toss quite efficiently with each team winning almost every match in the home after winning the toss. Also, in away matches, India, Australia, and South Africa have lost only 0–30% of the matches after they won the toss, but this figure jumps to 60–80% when the toss is lost, hence the result of the toss creates a huge impact on the outcome in away matches as well. Hence it can be concluded that the toss plays an important role in test matches to almost all teams.