During high-scoring one-day games, it’s not uncommon for commentators to say something like, “Well, the fans here [camera shot shows happy crowd] have had their share of entertainment today! They got their money’s worth!” The idea is that cricket fans particularly enjoy runs, and that has been one of T20’s supposed draws — more sixes, more fours, and more runs than you thought possible in a shorter amount of time. But is this right? Am I alone in thinking that ODI games with 600 runs on the board are actually a complete waste of time?
To me, the ideal match involves a flurry of runs in the first overs, followed by wickets, then consolidation, then an attempt to ratchet up the run rate in overs 40-50. In other words, an alternating contest between bat and ball. If there must be a rout of either side, however, I’d much prefer to see a bowler of Dale Steyn’s caliber just run through the opposition, as he did against the Pakistanis (and as South Africans did to the Kiwis earlier). To see an international Test side collapse for under 100 runs is a beautiful thing to behold; it’s like watching a ragtag, dismissed band of worker revolutionaries take control of the capital. Because bowlers are the oppressed of cricket — they often toil for hours, with only a few wickets (if that) to show for the effort. Batsmen, on the other hand, can usually score runs easier, or simply hang around and get brownie points for “occupying the crease.”
Can someone add statistical rigor to my suspicion that bowlers are increasingly ascendant? There is a theory that, after the retirements of so many batting greats, cricket’s Golden Batting Era will now cede to the bowlers. (This is obviously a stylized argument; the last 15 years also yielded Warne and Murali, two of the greatest bowlers ever.) I tried to find total Test runs scored by year on Cricinfo, but failed. Any ideas on how to measure this?