Over the past few years, the Big Bash has continually developed to the point where it is now generally regarded as the second strongest domestic T20 league in the world behind the IPL. The quality of players, both from Australia and abroad, is improving year on year, and with it the level of cricket, so with that in mind let’s take a look at the trends which have emerged in the league over its ten years, the subsequent keys to success in the BBL, and how you can gain an edge in the betting markets.
Without question, high-quality batting is what puts bums on seats in the T20 game. As important as a well-constructed over which concedes three runs for no wicket is, it’s predominantly the big hits which have helped to make the shortest format of cricket such a success in recent years. As a result, the game is increasingly set-up to produce big scores – be it through thicker bats, smaller outfields or more fielding restrictions – and the average run rate in the BBL over the years is indicative of that fact.
As you can see, there is a major difference in the average run rate in today’s BBL compared to when it began. In fact, the five seasons with the highest average run rates have all come in the past six years, with 2018-19 the lone anomaly in the pack. Clearly the league is trending towards higher scores, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the key to success.
The below graph shows the average run rate of every BBL team throughout the course of each of the league’s ten seasons. Seasons in which a team won the tournament are indicated by a black bar.
Interestingly, there is little to no correlation between a team’s average run rate and their success in terms of winning the title in any given year. In fact, in the BBL’s ten seasons, the winner has only had a higher run rate over the course of the season than the league average from that year on five occasions. So while the trend may be towards higher scores overall, putting them together doesn’t appear to be the panacea for success.
Dominant individual batsmen, however, are a different story. Almost all of the ten BBL winners have possessed at least one of the top batsmen in the league from that year – eight times, in fact, the winner has had at least one batsman with an average in the top three in the league that year. Often, it’s even more pronounced – last year’s Sixers had two of the top three, the 2018 Strikers had three of the top four, while both the 2016 Thunder and 2014 Scorchers had two of the top four. Clearly, scoring big as a team doesn’t guarantee BBL success, but having at least one batsman capable of doing so is crucial.
As we mentioned at the top, good bowling might not be as thrilling as good batting, but in the BBL it appears to be far more important. The below graph shows the average run rates conceded by each team in every year of the BBL, and demonstrates a strong correlation between tight economy rates and success – much stronger than in the equivalent batting graph.
Again, winners from each season are highlighted by a black bar. In this graph, most of those bars are significantly lower than the league average from that year. It’s only the Heat in 2013 and the Sixers last season who won the league despite conceding a higher run rate than the league average – the other eight have all been lower, and often significantly.
So for all of the emphasis placed on batting in the T20 game, it appears that – at least in the BBL – it’s been a team’s bowling which has been the most reliable indicator of positive performance, and that’s why those factors head our list of recommendations for success.
Our Recommendations for Success
- Develop a deep bowling attack – as the above data has shown, it’s an ability to restrict the opposition which has held teams in the strongest stead over the course of the BBL’s ten years, so ensuring you have enough quality bowlers who can keep things tight throughout all 20 overs is key.
- Recruit wicket-takers – as we all know, the simplest way to restrict runs is to take wickets, so it’s no surprise that virtually all of the past winners have done this. The past four league champions have had one of the top two wicket-takers in the league, while all but one winner has had at least one of the top three wicket-takers from their championship winning season.
- Focus on batsmen who can compile scores, not necessarily hit big – of course, the key to a good batting line-up is versatility, and you need both batsmen who can anchor an innings and those who can score fast. However, the statistics show that overall net run rates have not been a major indicator of success – having at least one batsman who can consistently score runs, however, has been a staple of virtually all BBL winners.
- Win the toss! – clearly, this is not something teams can control, but it has proven to be hugely important in the BBL, as in most T20 leagues around the world. Virtually every team has a better record after winning the toss, often by in excess of 20% – the Brisbane Heat, renowned for their second innings meltdowns, are the lone exception. This provides a potential edge in the betting, as while bookmakers do tend to adjust the odds after the toss, it typically isn’t as significant as the statistics suggest it should be.
To an extent these may sound self-evident – restrict runs, take wickets, don’t go out and you’ll do well. However, the stats demonstrate a certain nuance in terms of what is required to succeed that aren’t necessarily commonly viewed as such. Bowling, for example, has been shown to be a far stronger indicator of success than batting – at least in terms of run rates. Heading into the 2021-22 season, it’s therefore likely to be the teams able to put together the strongest bowling line-ups who are likely to cause the most damage, and it’s through them that you can get the biggest edge on bookmakers.