No doubt Ricky Ponting is an absolute genius, his knowledge of the game is unrivalled amongst the commentariat. Thankfully through his commentary work, he's been able to share some amazing insights both into his playing days and into how to read the game.
But earlier in the season while commentating on the BBL, Ponting made a claim. He suggested it's easier to bat first in the first half of a season before it becomes easier to bat second in the second half.
His suggestion essentially being that the batters take longer to adjust to the format than bowlers do. Certainly, an interesting claim and one that was backed up by Channel 7 at the time.
But of course, what Channel 7 suggested was not quite accurate to what Ponting said with only six games of the second half of the season having taken place at the time of writing. So let's go a little deeper into the numbers of the BBL and when teams actually win matches.
Firstly let's have a look at the numbers from this BBL season, the one Channel 7 have based their graphic on. (First half of the season = first 30 group games. The second half of the season = is the last 26 group matches and finals).
From what we can see here the claims look correct, although it must be noted that only six games have occurred in the second half of the season at the time of writing. However, when you look at the overall numbers from BBL09 right up until the game played on the 10th of January a different picture is painted.
Batting first in the BBL seems to still have an advantage, this could partly be because more than 61% of matches at Adelaide Oval are won by the team to bat first. But then again there are plenty of grounds where this is the opposite case, such as Manuka Oval and the MCG where 71% and 68.25% of matches are won by the chasing team respectively.
But of course, the overall numbers do not answer Ricky Ponting's overall claim. Is it easier to chase in the second half of the season? Well, the answer is partly yes but not by much.
The second half of the season does see slightly more wins when batting second with 45% compared to 41% although some of this also comes down to having less abandoned matches.
So overall Ricky Ponting isn't wrong when it comes to his claim that it is easier to bat second in the BBL in the second half of the season. But it's not true that you have a better chance of winning by chasing.
Purely based on the numbers, teams should be batting first every time, of course taking into account the different numbers at different grounds.
That being said Ricky Ponting could just be well ahead of the game as he so often has been and in BBL12 we could see a continuation in the pattern that has seen 83% of chasing sides win in the six 'second half' of the season matches so far.
These are certainly numbers to keep an eye on going forward, especially with the new media rights deal which will see the BBL reduced to just 43 matches from 2024/25.
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