CricViz analyst Patrick Noone profiles the SCG.
Sydney has been the regular venue for the New Year’s Test since the early 1970s. The ground has become synonymous with hosting the final Test of the Australian summer, with eight of the last nine seasons closing at the SCG. In recent years, the ground has been redeveloped into a 48,000-seater, multi-purpose arena but it nonetheless retains plenty of its character, particularly in the green-roofed members’ pavilion that has stood since 1886.
In recent years, the SCG has been one of the fastest scoring grounds in the world, with the WACA the only ground to have hosted more than two matches in the last ten years to have a quicker run rate than Sydney’s 3.30.
Australia have won 58 of the 105 matches played at the SCG, giving them a win percentage of 55%, their second lowest of all home venues behind Adelaide Oval. However, they have only lost one of their last 15 matches there – the innings defeat to England in 2011 – with only two of those 15 ending in draws.
England’s win percentage of 40% at the SCG makes it their favourite overseas venue. They have won as many matches there (22) as they have at Trent Bridge from five fewer matches, but have only won two of their last eleven matches in Sydney (in 2003 and 2011), a run that stretches back to 1980.
The SCG has traditionally been a bat first ground, with teams choosing to bat first in 83 of the 105 matches hosted there. That has not proved to be a huge advantage though, with 35 of those matches being won by the team that won the toss and 34 ending in defeat. However, Australia’s victory over Sri Lanka in 2013 is the only match since 1992 that a team has won the match having chosen to bowl first.
In previous eras, the SCG was regarded as the most spin-friendly ground in Australia and although that reputation has softened slightly in recent years, Sydney has still seen a higher percentage of wickets falling to spin (28%) than any other Australian ground in the last ten years. That is despite spinners’ economy rate of 3.51 at the SCG being higher than all Australian grounds besides the WACA in Perth (3.61).
The SCG has offered an average bounce height of 85.8cm at the stumps, lower than all other Australian grounds since 2007. In that time, Sydney is the Australian venue that has recorded the lowest average speed for seamers at 134.93kph and has seen the highest proportion of seamers wickets from balls clocking 135kph or lower (41%), suggesting that bowlers who take pace off the ball succeed at this venue.
At 154m from cover to midwicket, the SCG’s playing area is the widest in Australia. Nonetheless, batsmen have had success when playing cross batted shots (cuts, pulls, hooks) with the average runs per wicket from those shots higher than any other ground in Australia (54.75). The boundary percentage of 24.96% from those shots is also the highest in Australia, despite the big square boundaries, showing that the SCG is a ground where batsmen can find plenty of value for their shots.
The optimum length for seamers at the SCG is between 5m and 8m from the batsman’s stumps. At that length, seamers have conceded 2.68 runs per over and average 26.96 which compares favourably to short-pitched bowling (9m and shorter) where the relatively slow nature of the pitch means that seamers concede 4.32 runs per over and average 42.47. In fact, only 10% of wickets at the SCG have come from short balls, the lowest proportion of any ground in Australia since 2007.
As the heat maps show, a traditional fourth stump line is where seamers pick up the bulk of their wickets to right-handers, while erring shorter and/or wider sees the opportunities for boundaries open up.
For spinners, their optimum length is tighter to the batsman’s off stump but, as the heat map shows, the majority of wickets fall when the ball bounces over the stumps. This is unusual for a ground with a reputation for low bounce, suggesting that it is when spinners find something extra in the pitch that they have success.
Patrick Noone is an analyst at CricViz.