@swaris16 5 minute read
England won their second T20 World Cup title on Sunday, making them only one of two teams to clinch the trophy twice in men’s cricket. It was also their third world title in the T20 era in all white-ball formats, bagging more trophies than any other side in this period. But, are they the most consistent World Cup team?
Let’s take a look. First, let’s decide on a time period. Only men’s white-ball world events from the 2007 T20 World Cup have been considered, which will allow us to judge how sides balanced two formats simultaneously. In this period, the T20 World Cup has been held eight times, with England and West Indies winning twice each, while Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Australia have all won once. The 50-over World Cup, held thrice in this period, has had different winners each time – Australia, India and England, with the hosts bagging the crown on each occasion.
At face value, England, with more white-ball men’s titles than any other side in the last 15 years, can be called the most successful team. While that holds true, it is not as straightforward.
Most consistent team by win percentage
Despite being the winner of three white-ball World Cups, England, are ranked only seventh in terms of overall win percentage, winning 37 of their 68 games over 11 tournaments. South Africa and New Zealand, who do not have a single tournament in this period, have won 60.87 and 57.81 percent of their games, respectively.
India won the 2007 T20 World Cup and then clinched the 2011 World Cup, and are the most consistent team, with a win percentage of 70. They have won 49 of their 70 games played, including winning against Pakistan via the bowl-out in 2007, which served as the tie-breaker then if the 20-overs-a-side match ended with the scores level.
Australia, who like India have one T20 World Cup win (2021) and a 50-over triumph (2015) in this period, are the only other team to have an overall win percentage of more than 65.
This trend also continues if only performances in league games are considered.
India and Australia, once again, lead the charts when it comes to excelling in league games, with the India topping the charts, winning a whopping 72.41 percentage of their round-robin matches. Six teams have won more than 60 percent of their league games in the 11 white-ball World Cups since August 2007, but England, once again, fall way behind.
The current 50-over and 20-over world champions have not always had the best start to their tournaments, and find a spot in the bottom half of the list, along with more inconsistent teams like West Indies and Bangladesh. However, they seem to win more clutch games in the league stages as compared to a team like South Africa, who have won 61.02 percent of their matches – notching up wins in important moments to qualify for the semi-finals in five of 11 editions, while the Proteas have only qualified for three semis despite winning more preliminary games.
Most consistent team in taking it deep
South Africa’s is a curious case. Despite having won 36 of their 59 group stage matches, they have only made the semi-finals thrice – twice in T20 World Cups (2009 and 2014) and once in the 50-over event (2015). It perhaps indicates how they struggle in pressure games, and their inability to clinch matches that matter, as well as their plain bad luck. The last two editions of the T20 World Cup are examples – in 2021, they won four of their five league games, but missed out due to Net Run Rate. This year, their shock defeat to the Netherlands ousted them from the tournament, having come into the game undefeated. Rain has played a part, as it always does with South Africa, but it also comes down to them faltering when they need to step up.
England are the opposite. Despite being inconsistent in most league games, the matches that will define their path ahead see a new team turn up. In the 2010 edition, England qualified for the second round of the Super 8 courtesy of the point they got due to an abandoned game but were invincible thereafter, winning five games on the bounce to clinch their first-ever world trophy.
West Indies, who have only qualified for the semis three times in 11 editions, have two world titles to show for it, while India and Pakistan – who have qualified for the top four seven times each – also have two titles against their name. It highlights just how good the Windies were – 66.67 percent of the time when they made the semis, they went on to win, as against India and Pakistan’s success percentage rate of 28.57.
Sri Lanka too have been consistent in world events across parameters, especially in the first half of our time frame, entering the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup four times in a row from 2009 to 2014, winning one and ending up as finalists on two other occasions, They also entered the finals of the 2011 50-over World Cup.
The best team in the last four
Playing in knockouts is a different ball game together, with the pressure of failing high and past heroics mattering for little. India, the most successful team in the league stages, falter terribly in pressure moments, winning 50 percent of their matches, a dip of 20 when we compare their overall record in world events. India have qualified for the semis on all but one occasion – the 2021 T20 World Cup last year – which remains an astonishing feat, but have not been able to convert that into desired results, losing in either the semis or the final on the last five occasions.
England struggle in the first rounds, but pull up their game under pressure, winning seven of nine matches from the semis on wards, way higher than second-placed West Indies. They almost always ensure they return with the trophy when they make the semi-finals.
India, Pakistan, New Zealand and South Africa all have been more successful than England in group stages, but do not seize onto the clutch moments. Pakistan, New Zealand and India also have seven semis appearances each but are in the bottom half of this table. Playing pressure-free gets them more success – also a reason India are so successful in bilaterals – but all three sides seemingly lack the temperament, failing on big days consistently. New Zealand also do not have a title yet.
India are undoubtedly the most consistent team in white-ball World Cups, winning the most games. Combine that with their semi-final appearance rate of 63.64 percent and the debate should be closed.
However, they make a sharp dip in pressure moments, which is where a team like England thrive in. They start off slow, build up momentum and then go all out in the semis and onwards, losing only twice (the 2016 T20 World Cup final and the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final) in that stage. Though their numbers are largely due to their success in the last few years ever since they overhauled their white-ball template, they have emerged as a blue-print for teams, showing that instead of remaining undefeated in the lead-up to the semis, raising performances in crucial junctures is what matters.