In this Ashes series, Ben Stokes has been particularly at fault for bowling an excessive amount of no-balls.
FACT 1: Following two Test matches, England’s overall batting average surpasses Australia’s in this year’s Ashes.
FACT 2: England trails by 2-0.
It’s a curious world of cricket where these two statements hold true.
The term “unbelievable” is grossly overused in sports commentary, with “incredible” being a close runner-up.
“Unbelievable” is now casually used as a synonym for “good”, “somewhat unexpected”, and even, at times, “perfectly legal”.
This series, though, is challenging statistical norms, likelihood, and credibility, as is common with Stokes-led England.
Moreover, it has led to a familiar scoreline: Australia 2, England 0 after two Tests.
The raw numbers reveal that England has made 1260 runs to Australia’s 1245.
After Stokes declared with eight wickets down and Australia’s two-wicket victory at Edgbaston, followed by a 40-wicket second Test at Lord’s, both teams have lost 38 wickets.
Therefore, the collective average for England’s batting lineup is 33.1, while Australia’s is 32.7.
However, England has conceded 60 more extras than Australia (118 to 58), putting them 45 runs behind in total, accounting for the 43-run margin at Lord’s and Australia’s two-run advantage at Edgbaston.
England is the 274th men’s Test team to find themselves 2-0 down after two Tests in a series.
As expected, none of the previous 273 teams had a higher collective batting average after two Tests than the teams they lost consecutive matches to.
Among the interesting statistics and findings from this captivating series, this might be the most extraordinary.
Additionally, only four teams have been 2-0 down after two Tests with a higher collective batting average than England’s 33.1.
No team has ever scored faster and lost the first two Tests of a Test series – England has scored at a rate of 4.36 runs per over, the fastest rate by either team in the first two matches of any Ashes series, and 31% faster than Australia’s 3.31.
For comparison, after two Tests of the last Ashes series, before the Stokes-McCullum revolution, England was scoring 30% slower than Australia.
In essence, England has been playing winning cricket, but due to various factors, some within their control and others due to Australia’s skill and tenacity, they have lost.
The fact that England is 2-0 down is not new – this is the 11th Ashes series out of 19 played since 1989 in which Australia has won the first two Tests.
England has only enjoyed a 2-0 lead twice since World War II and only once in a home series since 1890.
However, during the traditional one-sided defeats experienced on recent tours to Australia and throughout Australia’s dominance from 1989 to 2003, England has been somewhere between being thoroughly outplayed and humiliated.
In those ten recent series where they led 2-0 after two Tests, Australia’s batsmen have averaged between 13 and 42 runs more per dismissal than England’s.
This summer, England has slightly outperformed Australia in batting, though by a slim, fragile margin that barely justifies the phrase “out-batted”.
This year’s scoreline introduces statistical novelty to the heated on-pitch drama. And never before, after two Ashes Tests, has either side had a worse extras conceded difference than minus 60.
England has bowled 41 no-balls to 15, and conceded 31 byes to 9, which, although not the only determining factor, has certainly been a significant obstacle.
Both sides have missed multiple opportunities on the field, which have had various impacts on the Tests, but England more so than Australia.
Ignoring technically challenging catches, England has missed 14 reasonable-to-good opportunities, compared to Australia’s seven.
Until the latter stages at Lord’s, Australia had a significantly higher Runs Added After Reprieve total (a new cricket metric I propose for common usage).
For instance, Khawaja has been the most influential player of the series, but could have been dismissed for lower scores on several occasions.
Two compelling matches have been played, filled with thrilling turns and shifts, periods of intense drama, extended lulls, and disputes over the Laws.
There are many alternate realities where different versions of the series are playing out.
In the reality where the series is actually taking place, English mistakes have been critical.
Stokes and his team now require even more genuinely remarkable feats, and equally extraordinary stats, to save the series.
The unresponsive pitches and minimal-movement balls have made this series challenging for bowlers.
Both sides’ attacks have managed to create wickets out of these unfavourable conditions, often using bouncer barrages, an effective but monotonous tactic.
Despite the challenges for bowlers, Lord’s saw the second consecutive Test in which all four innings exceeded 270, a feat only achieved three times previously in Ashes Tests in England.
No bowler from either side has taken a five-wicket haul, making this only the fifth Ashes contest out of 72 in which neither team has recorded a five-for in the first two matches.
Ben Stokes, a cricketer who transcends conventional statistics, has produced yet another Ashes masterpiece with astonishing stats.
Stokes has consistently delivered match-winning performances with the bat and ball and has created his own records in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ashes 2023 Analysis
Why is England trailing in the Ashes 2023 series despite having a better collective batting average than Australia?
England has been unsuccessful in capitalizing on their superior batting average due to a number of contributing factors. These include conceding more extras, missing opportunities in the field, and their inability to maintain control in decisive stages of the matches.
Who has been a standout player in the Ashes 2023 series?
Ben Stokes has been a standout player in the series. His unique ability to transcend traditional cricket statistics, along with his match-winning performances in batting and bowling, make him an influential figure in the series.
Why has this series been particularly challenging for bowlers?
The series has been challenging for bowlers due to unresponsive pitches and minimal-movement balls. Despite these obstacles, bowlers from both sides have managed to create wickets using tactics like bouncer barrages.
What statistical anomaly has occurred in the Ashes 2023 series?
A statistical anomaly in the series is that England, despite having a better batting average, is down 2-0 in the series. It is the first time in men’s Test history that a team is in this position.
Has Ben Stokes set any records in the Ashes 2023 series?
Yes, Ben Stokes has set multiple records in the series, such as becoming the first player to reach a Test hundred with three consecutive sixes and making the highest fourth-innings score by someone batting at number six or lower.