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From 1975 to 2015: How the run graph at World Cups kept soaring

The popularity of shorter formats, smaller venues, the introduction of powerplays and the addition of other batting friendly innovations in the sport are a few reasons that can be listed as the reason behind the rise.

Written by Shivam Saha | New Delhi | Updated: June 2, 2019 7:52:07 am
Chris Gayle scored a double century in the previous edition of ICC World Cup, held in Australia. (AP Photo)

Back in the early 1970s and 80s, a score around 200 was considered a competitive total and it added a sustainable amount of pressure on the side batting second. But from the inaugural edition back in 1975 to the last one held four years ago, the tournament has witnessed an exponential rise in the total runs being scored in every edition. The popularity of shorter formats, smaller venues, the introduction of powerplays and the addition of other batting friendly innovations in the sport are some of the chief contributors to this phenomenon.

Runs scored in different editions of World Cup

Unlike the current 50-over format, the inaugural edition of the event kicked-off with 60 overs in each inning. In the first edition, a total of 6162 runs were scored in 15 matches. However, there was a massive dip in the next edition, with only 5168 runs being scored in 14 matches. In 1983, the number of matches almost doubled and it resulted in a significant rise in runs being scored in the tournament. The batsmen amassed over 12,000 runs in this edition.

The 1987 edition of the tournament saw the 50 over format being introduced. But despite the reduction in overs, the flatter tracks in India and Pakistan offered the batsmen with batting-friendly conditions as 12,522 runs came in this tournament.

However, the following edition, which was played in Australia and New Zealand, saw a major dip in the number of runs despite the matches being raised from 27 to 39.

The 1996 World Cup was another happy outing for the batsmen as the mega-event returned to the sub-continent and it also saw the teams crossing the 300-run mark in five instances. It also saw the Arjuna Ranatunga-led Sri Lankan unit fall two runs short from becoming the first nation to reach the 400-run-mark in ODIs. The 1999 edition, played in England, was moderate in terms of the number of runs gathered in the event.

However, with the introduction of T20 cricket, all the World Cups post-2000 has seen over 20,000 runs being scored. The previous edition which was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand saw another landmark being set in the sport as Martin Guptill and Chris Gayle became the only batsmen to notch-up double centuries in the showpiece event.

Rise in the average number of runs per match 

West Indies may have won the 1975 World Cup, but the batting charts were topped by England. The team posted a mammoth 334/4 in the tournament opener against India, which eventually ended up being the highest team total in the tournament. With a total of 15 games being played, the average run per match in this edition was 410.8.

However, in the second edition, the average dropped to 369.14 and none of the teams crossed the 300-run-mark. In 1983, the average number of runs in a match remained beyond 400 and it settled at 463.7 in the next edition. But with the World Cup again returning to England in 1992 the average crashed below 400 per match.

However, since 2007, the average has been on the rise and it almost crossed the 500-run-mark in the previous edition.

How the number of runs per over rose

Every edition of the World Cup has witnessed a gradual rise in the average number of runs scored per over. In the first two editions, the scoring rate per over remained under four runs. However, for the first time in 1983, the scoring rate jumped over 4 runs. It was only in 2011 with the T20 cricket gaining more prominence, the number of runs per over rose above five and it spiked further to 5.65 in the previous edition.

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