Not into stats? Look away now – this could get ugly.
So Brendon McCullum wins the toss and sends the West Indians in at Hamilton. Whilst it could be said that it would have been a good toss to lose, at 86/5 the Windies would have argued that. But with the stumps score at 289/6, a few questions will now most likely to be asked as to whether the NZ skipper made the right call.
A few questions were also asked of the opposition in the first two matches of the series, so we at Sportsfreak did a little digging for the benefit of your average trainspotter. The following is a table of the 20 tests on NZ soil prior to this one (click to enlarge):-
• Of these 20 occasions, only five times has a team won the toss and elected to bat first.
• Not once has a team winning the toss and electing to bat lost. The average first innings score on these five occasions is 378/9.
• A team has won the toss and fielded on 15 occasions. The opposition’s average score in the first innings is virtually identical – 379/9.
• Yet on the 15 occasions that the team winning the toss has elected to field first, they have won on only three occasions, drawn seven, and lost five.
• New Zealand has only won the toss and batted first only twice out of 8 occasions. Both were draws, with first innings scores of 619/9dec and 356.
• No team has elected to bat first for the last 9 tests (10 including this test). The opposition’s average first innings score is 391/9.
• There have been nine results in these 20 occasions, two of them as a result of Australia winning the toss, batting first and winning the game.
• Of the remaining seven results, just over half of the wins (four) came as result of a team losing the toss, and being inserted.
So overall, the stats are fairly close. So why the preoccupation with fielding first in NZ conditions? It may be a throwback to earlier green seamers. It may be the desire to have guaranteed use of a new ball at 10.30am.
Whatever the case may be, on the recent dead tracks in this country, electing to bat after winning the toss on 15 out of 20 occasions seems a little perplexing.