Spin in or out? (Scoring Rates)

Freddie Wilde analyses whether the ball that spins into the batsman is easier to score off than the ball that spins away. 

One of cricket’s many assumptions is that a ball turning in—towards the batsman—is easier to hit than a ball turning out—away from the batsman.

You will often hear coaches, players and commentators speak of keeping off-spinners away from right-handed batsmen and left-arm spinners away from left-handed batsmen, to minimise the deliveries turning into a batsman. It makes sense, in theory at least, that a ball turning into a batsman will be easier to hit because it stays closer to his body and closer to the natural arc of his bat. But is it true? And if it is true, how significant is the difference?

Using ball-by-ball data from all ten seasons of the Indian Premier League we have grouped deliveries into those that turn into and out from the batsman based on whether the batsman is right or left-handed.

Bowler TypeOut from Right HandersIn to Right Handers
Leg SpinnerLeg BreakGoogly
Off SpinnerDoosra/Carrom BallOff Break
Slow Left ArmerStock Ball
Left Arm UnorthodoxWrong’UnStock Ball
Bowler TypeIn to Left HandersOut from Left Handers
Leg SpinnerLeg BreakGoogly
Off SpinnerDoosra/Carrom BallOff Break
Slow Left ArmerStock Ball
Left Arm UnorthodoxWrong’UnStock Ball

The data proves cricket’s assumption to be correct. Balls that spin into the batsman have an economy rate of 8.04 runs per over compared to 7.44 runs per over for those balls that spin out. Balls that spin in therefore cost, on average, 0.60 runs per over or 0.10 runs per ball, more than those balls that spin out. That amounts to 12 runs across 20 overs.

Spin In17120229358.04
Spin Out29394364257.44

The full breakdown of deliveries reveals that those deliveries that are considered as variations – i.e. those that turn in the opposite direction to that which is expected (googlies, doosras, carrom balls and wrong’uns), unsurprisingly record lower economy rates than those that turn as expected.

BowlerDeliveryIn RHOut RHIn LHOut LH
Leg SpinnerLeg Break-7.848.44-
Leg SpinnerGoogly6.06--7.12
Off SpinnerOff Break7.79--7.16
Off SpinnerCarrom Ball/Doosra-4.904.91-
Left Arm UnorthodoxStock Ball7.41-8.78
Left Arm UnorthodoxWrong’Un-7.148.21-
Slow Left ArmStock Ball-7.418.78-

It is also notable how the in-out trend is far more pronounced for left-handers, than right-handers. While the difference between the ball turning in and out for a right-hander is just 0.16 runs per over for left handers it is 1.37 runs per over.

Removing variation deliveries makes the difference in economy rates between balls that turn in and balls that turn out even greater.

Spin In16001218008.17
Spin Out28098350527.48

This data underlines the value of bowlers that can spin the ball both ways and lends support to the tactic of avoiding certain match-ups that result in the ball turning in, particularly to left handers.

Freddie Wilde is an Analyst at CricViz. Follow him on Twitter @fwildecricket


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