Rapid Collapses, Past, Present, & Future

England survived just 37 overs against Australia last night, collapsing to just 103 all out. They had eight single-digit scores out of their twenty batsmen, Australia had just one.

But, England’s terrible collapse is hardly their worst.

There have been 143 instances of a team collapsing in 37 six-ball overs or less, the first being Australia in 1879. You would think that these rapidfire innings would be getting less frequent, but you’d be wrong.

There has been the whopping total of 20 occurrences in the 2010s alone.

Innings by innings list (source: ESPN Cricinfo Statsguru)
England 103 37.0 2.78 -405 4 lost v Australia Lord’s 16 Jul 2015 investigate this query
Zimbabwe 114 35.5 3.18 100 3 lost v Bangladesh Dhaka 25 Oct 2014 investigate this query
India 94 29.2 3.20 -244 3 lost v England The Oval 15 Aug 2014 investigate this query
England 166 31.4 5.24 -281 4 lost v Australia Sydney 3 Jan 2014 investigate this query
West Indies 103 31.5 3.23 121 3 lost v New Zealand Hamilton 19 Dec 2013 investigate this query
Pakistan 99 36.4 2.70 99 1 lost v South Africa Dubai (DSC) 23 Oct 2013 investigate this query
New Zealand 68 22.3 3.02 -170 4 lost v England Lord’s 16 May 2013 investigate this query
Pakistan 49 29.1 1.68 -204 2 lost v South Africa Johannesburg 1 Feb 2013 investigate this query
New Zealand 45 19.2 2.32 45 1 lost v South Africa Cape Town 2 Jan 2013 investigate this query
Zimbabwe 51 28.5 1.76 -444 2 lost v New Zealand Napier 26 Jan 2012 investigate this query
England 72 36.1 1.99 -72 4 lost v Pakistan Abu Dhabi 25 Jan 2012 investigate this query
South Africa 96 24.3 3.91 -188 2 won v Australia Cape Town 9 Nov 2011 investigate this query
Australia 47 18.0 2.61 235 3 lost v South Africa Cape Town 9 Nov 2011 investigate this query
Sri Lanka 82 24.4 3.32 -14 3 lost v England Cardiff 26 May 2011 investigate this query
England 123 37.0 3.32 -267 4 lost v Australia Perth 16 Dec 2010 investigate this query
Pakistan 74 33.0 2.24 -372 2 lost v England Lord’s 26 Aug 2010 investigate this query
Pakistan 147 36.5 3.99 -225 3 lost v England Lord’s 26 Aug 2010 investigate this query
Pakistan 80 29.0 2.75 -354 4 lost v England Nottingham 29 Jul 2010 investigate this query
Australia 88 33.1 2.65 88 1 lost v Pakistan Leeds 21 Jul 2010 investigate this query
Bangladesh 123 34.1 3.60 -80 3 lost v England Manchester 4 Jun 2010

There are a few interesting statistics to be drawn from this list:

  • Every country has suffered this misfortune in the 2010s. Surprisingly, it’s only happened once to Bangladesh, with Pakistan suffering it the most, five times.
  • Despite the fact England has lasted this long or less four times, it’s happened to their opposition seven times.
  • There have been two occurrences of it happening twice in the one match: Pakistan against England at Lord’s in 2010 and both South Africa and Australia in the infamous 2011 Cape Town test.
  • The highest run rate during a short innings is 5.24, by England in 2013 against Australia, with the slowest being 1.68, by Pakistan in 2013 against South Africa.

However, my premise that these innings would be getting less frequent may be incorrect, and it might be getting more frequent as time goes on.

As Peter Moores would say, “We’ll have to look at the data.”

Note that the definition of 37-over inning has changed over time. It used to be four ball overs in the early days, and until the 1970s or 80s it was eight in Australia. We're talking about innings that last 222 balls or less for this.So, our initial premise was completely wrong, and the number of these occurrences is now higher than it has ever been. But, keep in mind we’re also playing a lot more cricket than we’ve ever been. How does that change the outlook?

Ever since I discovered how to combine chart types and add a secondary axis, I've been doing it compulsively.When we look at it this way, we are on the up, and we have been since the 1960s.

Some of the traditionalists may claim this is bad, and that Twenty20 has ruined players’ abilities to just shut up shop for hours. (I have a complete inability to block in a game situation. However, this isn’t because my natural instinct is to just smash it out of the park, it’s that I’m a hopeless batsman).

However, I say it makes the game a lot more interesting when this happens.

I was sitting in my car listening to the radio in November 2013 when England lost 6-9 in the first Ashes Test. (Scroll down to the 31st over for the start of the collapse.) It was one of the best cricketing memories of my life.

Sure, it may shorten the Test matches and annoy anyone who paid for a fifth-day ticket, but it’s always incredibly exciting to see a team collapse like that. (Well, except when it’s yours). But honestly, isn’t the point of the game for the players and the spectators to have fun?

And if collapses like England’s happen, I’ll have a lot of it.

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