India and Australia will clash in the big Boxing Day Test at the MCG from the 26th of December. 1-0 down in the series, India will look to bounce back in Melbourne and make a statement. The MCG has a unique atmosphere and is not only one of the largest stadiums in the world but also the one with the maximum capacity. We analyze the patterns of scoring at the venue in the last 5 years, the battle between pace vs spin, toss advantage if any and other trends which may have emerged during this period.
High First Innings’ Score and Bat First Advantage
The MCG has an average first innings’ score of 391.6 in the last five years. Of the 10 innings, there have been 7 team scores of 300 and more, one between 200 and 300 and only two below 200. The highest total was registered by Australia - 624 for 8 declared against Pakistan in 2016. The two aberrations were Australia’s 151 against India in 2018 when a certain Jasprit Bumrah wreaked havoc on their batting line-up and New Zealand’s 148 in 2019 when Pat Cummins and James Pattinson routed their top and middle order.
The team batting first holds a definite advantage in the last 5 years at the MCG with 3 wins - this includes India’s historic triumph in 2018. Pakistan batted first and lost in 2016 while the Ashes Test of 2017 ended in a draw.
The team winning the toss in the last 5 years has gone on to lose the match on 3 occasions. West Indies won the toss in 2015 and lost by 177 runs. Pakistan won the toss in 2016 and lost by an innings while won the toss in 2019 and lost by 247 runs. In fact, the only team which has won the toss and gone on to win the match too in this period was India in 2018.
Fourth-Highest Batting Average in Australia & One-Sided Contests
The batting average of the top 5 batsmen (batting positions 1-5) at the MCG during the last 5 years is 47.3 - the fourth-highest in Australia after W.A.C.A., SCG and Canberra.
A total of 3832 runs have been scored by the top 5 batsmen at the MCG during this period with 12 hundreds and 14 fifties.
The four result Test matches in the last 5 years have all been one-sided contests. Australia hammered Pakistan by an innings and 18 runs in 2016, thrashed New Zealand by 247 runs in 2019, beat West Indies by 177 runs in 2015 and lost to India by 137 runs in 2018.
Day 1 - Best Day to Bat
Day 1 seems to be the best day to bat according to numbers at the MCG during the last 5 years. The average team score on Day 1 is 240.6 and the average number of wickets lost is just 3.2! Interestingly, not even once in these 5 years have 5 or more wickets been lost on the first Day of the Boxing Day Test. This, along with the batting first advantage suggests that win the toss and bat first should be the mantra.
Pace over Spin But Dominance of Ball Decreasing
MCG has been more batting friendly in the last 5 years. The bowling average for pacers (33.75) at the venue is the third-highest amongst Australian grounds only after SCG (44.16) and surprisingly W.A.C.A. (41.81) in this period. This is in sharp contrast to the bowling average at the MCG in the previous 5 year period (2010-2014) of 27.69.
The bowling strike rate for pacers at the MCG has also risen from 53.2 between 2010-2014 to 68.9 in the period between 2015-2019 which suggests that wicket-taking has been a major issue at the venue.
Interestingly, the returns for spinners have also diminished in the last 5 years. The spin bowlers had a collective average of 45.4 and strike rate of 88.5 in the period between 2010-2014. This has increased to 52.25 and 92.1 in the last five years.