How Important Is Winning The Toss in the Big Bash League?

It's December.

The festive season.

But, more importantly, for cricket fans, it's the Twenty20 Big Bash season.

While the battle between bat and ball is what usually determines the result, there are several other facets which have an impact on the eventual match-winner. The state of the pitch, weather conditions, even the outfield, amongst other things, contribute to a team’s chances of winning a particular game of T20 cricket. 

And so how do you get a chance to take advantage of the conditions? It’s by winning the toss and deciding whether you want to put on a total to defend or restrict your opposition to a score that your team can chase down. Win the toss and you’ve control of your fate.

With BBL Season 10 starting soon, let’s look back at some historical data to investigate whether teams have actually received an advantage by winning the toss over previous editions.

*Statistics exclude matches with 'no-result' or those using the Duckworth-Lewis method from BBL|1 to BBL|8*
**Matches decided on Duckworth-Lewis method in BBL|9 are included in this data**

HOW DO TEAMS PERFORM AFTER WINNING TOSS?

Although the Hobart Hurricanes didn’t have the best record last season, they still have the highest win% amongst teams when winning the pre-match coin toss or bat flips (64.86%). This is a 16.55% increase on their overall win rate of 48.31% across all nine seasons of BBL. Interestingly enough, the Hurricanes have also been the unluckiest team in BBL history having won the toss only 37 times, which accounts for 41.57% of their matches.

Given the 50/50 nature of a toss, over the long term, we would expect each team's win toss% to converge around 50%. However, in the short term, that isn't necessarily the case.

The Perth Scorchers hold the record for most tosses won (54) in BBL history. They also have the highest percentage of toss wins (58.06%), making them the luckiest franchise when it comes to the toss. The three-time BBL champions also ensure they capitalise on this, with the second-best win rate (62.96%) in matches where they won the toss, only behind the Sydney Sixers who have lost only 16 out of 46 games with a staggering 65.22% win record.

Given their dismal overall win record of 38.27%, it comes as no surprise that the Sydney Thunder have only managed to win 18 out of 44 matches in which they won the toss - the worst mark in the league.

Team
Games
Wins
Losses
Win %
Win Toss
Win Toss %
Wins after winning the toss
Win % after winning the toss
Sydney Sixers
91
51
40
56.04%
46
50.55%
30
65.22%
Melbourne Renegades
87
40
47
45.98%
46
52.87%
22
47.83%
Hobart Hurricanes
89
43
46
48.31%
37
41.57%
24
64.86%
Melbourne Stars
92
51
41
55.43%
49
53.26%
26
53.06%
Sydney Thunder
81
31
50
38.27%
44
54.32%
18
40.91%
Adelaide Strikers
87
47
40
54.02%
38
43.68%
21
55.26%
Brisbane Heat
84
36
48
42.86%
40
47.62%
18
45.00%
Perth Scorchers
93
53
40
56.99%
54
58.06%
34
62.96%

WHICH SEASONS WERE TEAMS MOST SUCCESSFUL IN AFTER WINNING THE TOSS?

In 6 of the 9 BBL seasons so far, teams winning the toss have won more games than they have lost. Whilst those numbers were closer to 50/50 in the most editions of the BBL including last season (BBL09), teams losing the toss had a slight advantage having won 50.85% of games.

Meanwhile, in the two seasons before the latest edition, there was a noticeable uptick in with teams winning the toss and going on to win the match, with this scenario playing out in BBL7 and BBL8 respectively.

BBL SeasonMatches Won 
After Winning Toss
Matches Won After
Losing Toss
11811
21418
31716
41716
51817
61618
72913
83520
92930
Overall193159


WHAT DO CAPTAINS CHOOSE AFTER WINNING THE TOSS?

The old adage of 'win the toss and bat first’ was the mantra most teams followed in the early iterations of Big Bash competition. Historically, throughout nine years of the BBL, 51.63% of teams have preferred chasing a total in the second innings, however, during the very first season, only three captains elected to bat second after winning the toss. 

The ‘win the toss and bat first’ trend continued for two more seasons, but following that, we witnessed a drastic change. Whether it's the nature of T20 cricket, or the game simply becoming more batsman-friendly, but ever since BBL4, batting second and chasing a total became the preferred choice for the majority of captains when winning the pre-match toss- until last season. In BBL09, 50.82% of games had teams electing to bat first.

This was in major contrast to BBL08 when teams chose to bat first only 16.36% of the time (9 games), while a whopping 46 matches saw the toss-winning captain electing to bowl first.

One theory for bowling first in modern cricket is that the chasing team has an advantage in gathering a lot more data - the run target, pitch conditions, weather etc. The team batting first can be unsure of what a winning total would look like, which poses some uncertainty with respect to risk-taking and shot-decision making when at the crease. 

The team batting second can script their innings according to requirements and plan their approach depending on the target.

BBL
Won Toss / Bat First
Won Toss / Bowl First
1
26
3
2
19
13
3
25
8
4
16
17
5
16
19
6
7
27
7
12
30
8
9
46
93130
Overall
161
193


IS CHASING THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN THE BIG BASH LEAGUE?

If you compare BBL1 to BBL8, the difference in approach by the captains couldn’t be further apart.

Only match in the first edition of the Big Bash was won by the team that won the toss and bowled first, while in BBL8, 30 matches had that outcome. Last season, that number was down again with only 11 out of 28 games (39.28%) won by teams electing to chase.

Interestingly, not a single team won a match after electing to bat first in BBL 6. The following season in BBL7, 63.33% (19 matches) of teams successfully chased down the target after winning the toss.

Overall, 51.40% of teams electing to chase have been successful which accounts for 107 out of 191 BBL matches where teams have won the toss and elected to bat.

BBL
Matches Won after Winning Toss & Batting
Matches Lost after Winning Toss & Batting
Matches Won After Winning Toss & Bowling 
Matches Lost After Winning Toss & Bowling
1
17
9
1
2
2
7
12
7
6
3
14
11
3
5
4
8
8
9
8
5
7
9
11
8
6
0
7
16
11
7
10
2
19
11
8
5
4
30
16
918
13
11
17
Overall
8675
107
84


Remember, the toss is just one of several factors which helps to determine a match-winner. The actual result still has to be decided by those on the field of play, as well as the action-filled 40 overs of exhilarating cricket play which all contribute to why we love this sport.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to our free mailing list to get the best content delivered straight to your inbox. 

Leave a comment below, or join the conversation on the Stats Insider Twitter or Facebook page.

Nikhil Deshpande

Started supporting Manchester United for Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Chose Collingwood FC because my hairdresser convinced me to. Spreading the word that Charlie Austin and Ben Simmons are GOATs. Got dealt a good hand with sense of humor but had to sacrifice all my Fantasy sports skills in return. Don't regret it at all. Well... maybe just a little.

Related Articles
Who Holds The Key For The Remaining BBL Finalists?
Just How Important Is A Top-2 Finish In The Big Bash League?
Are The Sydney Clubs Disadvantaged By Hosting BBL Finals In Canberra?
BBL|10: The Stats And Trends Behind The Power Surge
See All Articles
A new version of Stats Insider is now available! You'll see it when you next reload the page, or you can click here to go to it now!