Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Playing at home, the biggest advantage ever?

We have all witnessed how England changed its cricket history. Since 1896, this is the first time the world could see a new, refreshed team that was able to do their best and beat Australia in 4 consecutive series. 2015, one heck of a year.

In 2015, The Ashes matches were hosted by England, therefore I cannot help but wonder how important was the home advantage in helping them win. It’s been 14 years since the British won a title during the Ashes cricket championship. To sum it up: Australia won 32 series, and England 32, in the past. But now, the last-mentioned has raised the bar. How come?

Over the last couple of weeks, Cardiff was the only setting to receive everyone’s attention: fans and cricket players, altogether. Alastair Cook really proved worthy of his name, I daresay, but the fact that the competition took place in England had a huge influence on making the team win the trophy, wouldn’t you agree?

Even the Australian coach admitted that his team is not very strong when playing away from home. British players are already used to the country’s weather conditions: constant showers, chilly, and somewhat breezy winds. Not the same thing can be applied to Australia. The team had to adapt.

It seems irrelevant at the first sight, but trying to adjust oneself to different conditions overseas is something I’d take into consideration if I were to be a cricket player. Nonetheless, the audience plays an important role for the team’s spirit. Cheering and applauding can make all the difference in the world.

But can we give it a long shot and place a bet on the host team? Winning at home is a must? Always? Well, let’s do the math. 2001 was the year when Australia won in England, and since 2002, there have been 25 Ashes won by the host team, and other 7 by the guest. Here, I am talking about a win/loss ratio of 3.57.

Things were quite different before that, because back then more than half of the series were won by the touring team. Before 2002, for example, the win/loss ratio was at around 1.19, with 117 cups won by the home team, and 98 by the guest.

Of course, of course, I know it will take some time till the cricket world will resolve this huge gap between playing at home and playing away. Teams have to learn how to play on various surfaces: Aussie wickets no longer have their own character, so that’s a good start. A good start for new records, I mean.

I guess the idea is to give all of them the chance to play a fair game, without any extra details that can influence their performance. Nonetheless, if a team can overcome those disadvantages when playing away, it means they are really great players, don’t they? Even James Sutherland wants to train a team that can play away as good as they can play at home.

Being able to win anywhere is the goal, isn’t it?

As a short reminder for those who didn’t turn on the TV this weekend: during this short Ashes test (the shortest one since 1950), England set the bar high with an innings and 78 runs, throwing only 1059 balls on home soil.

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