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World Cup Team Maps
10 Teams, many maps.
What big-name team cannot take a wicket at the death? What small team is comically bad bowling in the middle? And what two teams are incredible at the death with the bat? It is time to look at the team map for each side in this World Cup to see their strengths and weaknesses.
Quite literally, we will be looking at how each side shapes up.
For those new to team maps, we use them as a shorthand to work out what sides are actually good or bad at. Since the 2019 World Cup, many teams have not always played their best sides - which is going to be how ODIs are from now on in. But there are still patterns to be found.
The way these maps work is straightforward. You want your teams to be stretched out for batting and shrunk in when bowling. We split them into regions in the game: first ten overs, the middle from 10 to 40, and then the final ten is the death. It lets you know where teams have their strengths and weaknesses. We have given this an overall rating. These aren't averages or runs per over, but the rating compared to the other teams.
We have done this differently from previous maps. I have one for average per wicket, another on runs per over, and then finally a combined rating. We have only looked at teams against other World Cup-qualified sides, so no teams get a boost from playing sides outside this group.
The Indian team is in the middle of an existential cricket crisis. They are a fairly defensive team, and ODI cricket is being dragged by Australia, England and perhaps even South Africa into an uber-attacking model. They are at home, have plenty of talent, a flexible lineup, yet the ghosts of ICC trophies past are floating behind them.
Their batting has been more attacking at the top; they have seen the success of other sides and given it a go. Interesting, they have managed to do it without losing too many wickets. They're arguing for the best top three, which is their happy place, but scoring quicker while doing it. That hasn't carried over to the middle order. Their top three hasn't kicked on when appearing set in the middle.
SKY is still weirdly frustrating in ODI cricket, and their number fours keep getting injured. They have Shreyas Iyer (if ever fit), Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul to fill all those spots, so depending on your feeling on that group you'll think they fix this or India will be under a permanent middle-overs mushroom cloud.
India doesn't kick on at the end. This is weird because they're not losing wickets at a high rate all the way through. South Africa follows the same basic batting plan - but with less batting depth, and they explode at the end. India just aren't doing that at all.
They were not taking new ball wickets for a long time. However, these numbers do not include the Asia Cup final. Obviously, with Jasprit Bumrah back they look much stronger and Mohammed Shami is one of the best strike bowlers in ODI cricket. But I don’t think they’ll use both of these players in this phase. It’s most likely that Bumrah and Siraj together will be much better. India basically went from being the worst bowling team in the powerplay to the best with Siraj on board.
I really like the middle, they are taking masses of wickets in here. And no other team is even close. They are not that miserly, but they're so much better at taking wickets that it's more than fine.
They haven't taken wickets at the death, but the economy is just slightly above par. Again, you throw Bumrah into this, and they should go from slightly weak to much better. I must admit I was a bit shocked that their bowling wasn't better all the way through. But they have looked more at long batting lineups to follow the England method, so maybe that has weakened the bowling.
They come in as third on my overall ratings when batting and bowling are combined. With their batting talent and now longer order, I would like to see something more explosive - though there are some good signs here. Here are my main concerns, a lot of pressure on Bumrah to fix things, the middle order haven't really played a lot of ODIs in their positions, and I am not sure they won't go back to the more defensive mindset when things go wrong.
For a team this good, at home, who are favourites, it is weird there is not more hype about them winning the World Cup really. I can't tell if that is Indian fans worrying, or if there are real issues here.
There is no team with a more putrid-looking shape than the Netherlands. Remember, this is just them against the other qualifiers of this tournament. We saw them almost give up 500 against England last summer, so we know they struggle with the best teams. A lot of this data will have been made by the second-tier players who represented them when the main players were in county cricket. However, those players also got them to the World Cup.
Their opening with the bat is their strongest period. Is there nothing Max O'Dowd can't do? It's not a positive but a decent attempt at starting the innings. They score at an okay rate and don't lose an embarrassing amount of wickets. If that sounds patronising, it isn't. I am just comparing them to the rest of their innings.
In the middle, they lose an incredible amount of batters. It's barely believable how bad that has been for them. We've seen that in some T20 World Cups as well. However, they do have Colin Ackermann, Scott Edwards, Bas de Leede and Roelof van der Merwe in their middle order, so I would hope they wouldn't be as bad as we see here.
By the time they get to the end, their tail is trying to handle the death bowlers, and it is not working. I have them as the seventh-best powerplay batters and then the worst from then on.
Just like with the bat, they start great with the ball. Only England and New Zealand take more wickets at the top, and they also haven't been going for runs. Overall the numbers have them rated above England, I would say they are probably third. But that is an incredible effort for an Associate team. They really do have a lot of quality new ball talent.
But we have to get to this incredible part of their shape, which is the biggest outlier we have on here. This is because in the middle overs with the ball, the Netherlands average 72. Basically twice the average of the other teams. They do not capitalise on their great start at all. Teams don't really smash them in here, they somehow manage to be only the second most expensive. But what it shows is their spinners do not take wickets. Losing Pieter Seelaar last year to retirement was a blow. But they will have a lot of spin bowling options, but none have good wicket-taking numbers.
They are getting hammered at the end. We know they have some seamers who can bowl here, but when your middle overs bring no new batters, their quicks are bowling at the death to set players with plenty of wickets in hand. That never works.
Overall, they have the worst rating in my system of any team. And they are a significant distance from the second-worst. Now, some of that is when their players were available for their best games, but they also struggled against decent teams. They had a great qualifier and deserve their spot. If this World Cup was outside of Asia, I would be interested to see what they could do. But I worry about their batting against spin and their own tweakers. Not a great place to be in.
Bangladesh's team has come together very well in the last 18 months. All-rounders, youth, experience, with actual batters who can hit the ball off the square. But this is not a finished item, and they'll be disappointed with their Asia Cup.
They start absolutely horribly up top with the bat, they are by a long distance the worst team in the powerplay, they lose wickets, and score slow; it's a mess. They get better in the next section in terms of losing wickets, but they're even slower to do that. And by the time they end, they have their best period but are still way behind par. It's a horror show all the way through. They're a really poor batting side.
But of course, there is nothing Najmul Shanto can't fix. He finally worked out ODI cricket a week back, and his hamstring exploded from his own awesomeness.
With the ball, they are positive in all three areas. Not quite the mirror image, but it's certainly a plus bowling team. They don't take wickets at the top, but keep it quiet, the same in the middle. If they are going to have a strong tournament, they will need to take more wickets. You cannot keep the best players quiet game after game. While they are a plus all the way through with the ball, their death holds up the best when they finally take wickets and have a great economy.
As good as their bowling has been, I don't think we are discussing anything that can overcome their batting. I do worry about how much they are being penalised for a very late change of style and a new influx of players in my numbers. But they weren't sensational in the Asia Cup. Obviously, the conditions favour them on Indian wickets, but they are very different to Bangladesh wickets. If they took more wickets, I'd feel more comfortable with them as a genuine semi-final chance. But I don't see it right now. I have them fighting for the seventh-best team coming in, better than Afghanistan, but not the bowling power of Sri Lanka.
I want to believe, but I kind of always have.
Australia pull their team together so late in such a haphazard way that actually trying to work out real patterns can be silly sometimes. But they have some consistent strengths and weaknesses that we have seen before.
In their batting, their top order has been incredible at staying in and doing it at a more than decent rate. I have them listed as the best team in the powerplay with the bat, just ahead of India. But that might be complicated by the Travis Head injury.
The problem is none of that carries over, they lose wickets in the middle and even their runs per over comes down to par. Their middle overs rank just above Afghanistan, not ideal.
At the death, it's all different; they simply don't lose any wickets at all and score at the second-best rate. Remarkably, it comes after a flat middle period. The numbers have them the number one ranked death batting side, though there is another team almost on their level I'd have them with.
With the ball, they do the all-important job of taking early wickets. That is the only time they take wickets at better than average. As good as they are, I only have them as fourth best in this opening period.
And it gets worse, in the middle their reliance on weak fifth bowlers means any good work Adam Zampa or a returning quick gives them is lessened by that other choice.
But their middle isn't that bad, it is their death that is probably the worst. They just fall off the cliff here and become the 8th best side.
Now, we have to mention that Mitchell Starc, who if he has another great World Cup, might go down as one of the best trophy bowlers in history, will come back into this. But their death bowling has struggled for a while, hard to deny that. They're actually quite a poor bowling unit in between World Cups. But with Australia, they will have a touch of Avengers assembled about their bowling.
On the overall rankings, the numbers have them as the best team. Now England has basically taken this cycle off, India has played around a little, and New Zealand dropped off, but Australia have managed to try a bunch of new methods, rest players, experiment, and still be very good. That's not nothing.
Afghanistan's batting is just bad. They lose wickets at the top and middle at a slightly above-average rate, and then by the time they get to the death, they are leaking wickets like crazy. It means that in all three parts of the innings, they are scoring slower than a normal team. The only plus is that they are not a horrible middle-overs team, being that is the bulk of the game, it's not a bad play to be only slightly worse than par. But overall, their batting is really ordinary.
Afghanistan's bowling is obviously a lot better. But they start badly, they struggle to break through with new ball wickets as their seam has not been as strong for years. This means the spinners have to step up all the way through, and it hasn't worked. Teams haven't scored big on them, but this is the period you want wickets. The middle is unsurprisingly their best part, they're well above par in economy and average. At the death, their record is about the same as the middle, which is a really good sign.
Overall this a team that doesn't make many runs, but also doesn't let many through. I am pretty confident in saying they are the second-worst batting team. And they are ranked on these numbers as the fourth-best bowling lineup. Being that this tournament is on Indian pitches, that should hold up. As good as their bowling is, they still rank ninth overall on my list.
That makes them a very good spoiler team rather than a real consistent threat. One top-order bat, one good new ball option and this could be a very interesting team. The good news for them is they are strong in the middle of the game on both sides of the ball, so in 60 overs of the game they are doing well, it is how they work out the final 40 that really is crucial.
No team has taken the last cycle off more than England. Ben Stokes retired from bilateral ODIs, Joe Root might have done the same. Because of that, these numbers are a bit all over the shop.
They are still a plus batting team, but we don't know if they have slipped back, or just haven't had their best XI. For instance, in the powerplay, their average isn't that impressive, and their strike rate didn't do anything special either. This means that they are probably rated around second or third in a period they usually dominate, Australia is quicker than them now. Roy was left out because when he did play, he had slipped. Malan will make more runs, but probably not that fast.
England is still far quicker than anyone else in the guts of the innings, even without the Root, Morgan and Stokes machine of the last World Cup. Now they have two of them, the numbers have them as number one already, I think they are still well and truly the best team in this section.
They haven't kicked on as much at the end, that might have been partially from some games where they have been trialling their best bowlers, and not always had the all-around power of before.
Their new ball bowlers take wickets at an excellent rate. It's a very undervalued part of their success. Of course, they're a different proposition if Jofra Archer can bowl in the tournament. I have them ranked first for wickets up top, though New Zealand are slightly more economical, but we know England worry less about that.
The current issue is that they haven't taken wickets in the middle. The Adil Rashid-Liam Plunkett partnership really hasn't been replaced. Rashid is taking his wickets at nearly 40 in the middle, and Wood hasn't taken wickets in that role yet. Their game plan relies on this, and it was noticeable against New Zealand how much they were prepared to gamble to get middle-overs victims. So clearly, they know this is a problem.
They're a pretty poor death bowling team, a fit Archer covered this four years ago. But I don't know if I believe any of their other bowlers are massive plusses at the end. If they take wickets in the middle this doesn't matter, so right now it does. They have the second most runs per over at the end.
Australia have outplayed them in the last three years, and they have been resting their best players as well. There are so many questions. Will Malan bat like Roy, or himself? Is Rashid quick enough for Indian wickets? Will their new ball bowlers still give them an advantage? Last time this was an ODI machine, this time they have a lot of good parts, but it's certainly not purring right now.
The weird thing is they didn't play that well last World Cup and still won.
This is a bit of a worrying shape for a team that recently went to number one, but also bummed out in the final round of the Asia Cup.
Their powerplay batting doesn't lose many wickets, but they're really slow doing it. The third slowest, in fact. Now, if they were going to use that platform to crush in the middle, I am okay with that. Because they lose even fewer wickets in the middle, they have the best average. But again they are just a par team regarding runs per over.
They have all these wickets up their sleeves that they should finally cut free at the end, but they do not. They're slightly slower than par. With all those wickets in hand. What on earth were they holding them all for? Their overall mark shows that their numbers are not terrible, but they're a conservative par-or-bust team.
That is okay if your bowling team is incredible, especially up top. Pakistan have not quite managed that. Now you throw a healthy regular Shaheen in here, and boom. But he has now lost Naseem Shah (who has been incredible since he came in), and truthfully with Pakistan's fast bowling line up they should be taking way more wickets.
But my bigger concern is how they will take wickets in the middle. Because they don't. Shadab is a good all-rounder, but I think he needs to be paired with a spinner who takes more wickets. And their seamers haven't come back and bowled good middle-over spells. They still pull it back for the death where they are very good, in fact, they come up as the best death team, they take wickets and can't be hit. It's not too little, but it is too late.
If you are going to be a par batting team, you need to take more wickets than this. They should be taking more at the top, I am less worried about that. But the middle section is hard to fix unless some seamer goes nuts in this period. Maybe they can go harder with the bat, but they've got so good at knocking the ball around, I think the change has to come from the bowling.
If their bowling suddenly explodes like Pakistan can do in World Cups, they're a problem for anyone. But even then they won't be a perfect team.
There is something very New Zealand about this shape. A team that is not great at many things, but not terrible at any. This map is a fucken cliché of Kiwi cricket.
Their opening batting hasn't really fired. They have tried Finn Allen and others up top, but I think Will Young might be the player that solves this. They either need to score quickly, or not lose wickets. They're currently teetering on the powerplay purgatory of being under par on both. They're the sixth worst as it stands.
Their middle is pretty ordinary; they make par runs but lose more wickets than average for a team not really smashing it. Kane Williamson with an elbow and Daryl Mitchell should provide fewer wickets, though neither is likely to score massively quickly in the middle. That will be Glenn Phillips's job.
They're par at the death on runs per over. So in all three, you'd say they are either par or just under. It's very beige, and not in a sexy 1980s way.
The best part of their game is opening with the ball, and it's not close, they are elite up top. The best in the game, as good as taking wickets as England, but more economical. They have so much new ball talent this makes sense.
The problem is that they can't keep that up, their spin option of Mitch Santner doesn't take wickets any more, and they really don't have a strong wicket-taker to pair him with. Usually, it would be Lockie Ferguson bowling great in the middle, but he's in a confusing form funk, and I worry about them taking enough wickets here to control the death. They've been an ordinary, not terrible death bowling team. But I think this middle issue could be worse in the World Cup, meaning teams can cash in.
I know we always underestimate New Zealand, and so it looks like we are doing so again. The thing that gives me some hope is that they did well in the T20 World Cup in the UAE, but in that, you can use Ish Sodhi, and he's not a great wicket-taker in ODIs. Obviously, having Kane and his elbow/knee back is handy, but I would like to see Lockie being Lockie again. I think they have a team where they can make good par scores that make their new ball bowlers look even better. But how often is the question?
This is always the toughest team to look at from a World Cup, because how can you win the tournament when Richie Benaud put a hex on you for changing his rain rules in 1992? It is hard to evaluate a team that is like the kids staying in a haunted cabin built on a sacred burial ground of fast-moving zombies.
The batting has been fantastic. After deciding that number sevens are for chumps, their top six has decided to just be awesome all the time. They lose no wickets up front, and they still score safely above par. In the middle, it is more of the same, just slightly above-average scoring without any wickets. And then at the death, shit gets crazy.
They really don't lose wickets at the end, I have studied this on film, on spreadsheets, in person, and I don't get how they manage it. They are incredible at not losing batters and still score at the best rate. Often they get to the end four wickets down and just smash the crap out of the ball like they have ten batters left. This shit is bananas.
They have been absolutely terrible with the new ball, teams score off them, but they don't take wickets. Rabada and Ngidi have been pretty good, the problem is Jansen and Nortje who have both averaged over 100 when bowling upfront. So I think this is less of an issue, but even so, South Africa have three frontline seamers, and they really have struggled with their third option.
They make up for this by taking wickets in the middle, both spinners take regular victims, and the quicks - especially Nortje - have been good. Maharaj has been even better at keeping the economy low. At the death, they're a par team.
Now, here is my concern: if you are picking five frontline bowlers, you should be a great bowling team. And they just are not that. You add to that that if their luck with number seven doesn't hold up, there are issues here. That said, they have the best two spinners of the non-Asian team, a top six that has been killing it, and there is a lot to like.
They are ten to one with the bookies, and the money has started to come in for them after a couple of good matches against the Australians.
Sri Lanka's record has suddenly become a hipster pick for the World Cup. And it makes sense; their bowling lineup has been incredible, and there has been some good batting, too. Well, not terrible batting. But the Asia Cup final surely reminded people of the bad times. A lot of their recent form was against teams not in this World Cup, and before that, they were terrible.
But when you look at their batting, it really hasn't been great in the last three years. They lose a lot of wickets up top, and they don't score quick enough to make up for it. In the middle they have been absolutely terrible, losing wickets everywhere and scoring slow. In the end, their lower order holds up well enough, considering all the wickets they had lost earlier, but they score slowly.
In my rankings, I have them as the eighth best in the powerplay, ninth in the middle, and they jump to seventh in the death. Their lower order should get a medal for that work.
Their new ball bowling is about par on wickets. Some of that might be that every seamer has been injured because I actually think they have the chance of improving this. It's just marginally an under-par team, so any improvement would be handy.
They are the third best in terms of wickets in the middle, but they don't allow many runs in that section, meaning you would have to say they are top four, and that was before they had access to Wellalage. They spin the ball in both directions, have decent part-timers, and Pathirana could be a threat here if he plays. I have them as a top-three death bowling team as well, so they are very good for the back 40 overs with the ball.
But has their batting recently improved enough to match with a plus bowling attack that doesn't take wickets at the top? You give me a few early poles, and even some par batting and this looks like a Pakistan team with middle-overs pressure. That is a semi-finalist at its best. But at its worst, they never make enough runs to help their bowlers. However, they could cause some very good teams some interesting issues.