How to calculate a bowler’s economy rate?

The evolution of cricket has drastically changed in terms of run scoring. This can be attributed to the change in equipment, rules, and the different formats in which it is played today. Traditionally, test cricket remains the most elusive format. This is because the winning side is decided based on the team that scores more runs after five days.

Test cricket does not have a restriction on the number of overs to be bowled. The introduction of limited-overs cricket increased the scoring rate. Additionally, field restrictions rules further made it challenging for the bowling side to restrict the flow of runs. It became even more difficult for the bowlers in the era of T20. In order to control the run rate they have to use the full array of their skills. Additionally a spell in T20 cannot last more than 4 overs.

A bowler’s ability to restrict the flow of runs is seen in high regards in the T20 era. While test cricket focuses on a bowler’s wicket-taking ability, T20 and One Day International is more about how effectively can a bowler control the flow of runs. The number of runs that a bowler gives in the number of overs they bowled is said to be their bowling economy.

A bowling economy is designated by the abbreviation ‘Econ’ on the bowling scorecard. The higher the economy, the poorer is the bowler’s ability to control the flow of runs. If a bowler gives away 36 runs in a spell of 9 overs, their economy is said to be 4. This means that per over the bowler has given an average of 4 runs. A career bowling economy is the number of runs they have conceded divided by the number of overs the bowler has bowled in their career.

In test cricket, among those who bowled at least 2000 balls, William Attewell, who retired in 1892, has the best bowling economy of 1.31. Among the more recent players, Lancelot Gibbs, who retired in 1976 had the best economy rate of 1.98. Hanse Cronje who played till 2002 and bowled more than 3000 balls is considered to be the modern best with an economy of 2.03.

Joel Garner holds the record of the best bowling economy in One Day International (3.09). Garner retired in 1987. At the turn of the century, another West Indies bowling legend, Curtly Ambrose retired from the sport. During that time he had a commendable bowling economy of 3.48. Among the more recent players, Glenn McGrath’s economy of 3.88 is the best in One Day Internationals.

In T20 cricket, former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori’s economy of 5.70 is the best among players who are part of full time member teams of the International Cricket Council. As of May 2024, Uganda’s Alpesh Ramjani holds the record for the best economy rate of 4.74, having bowled over 700 balls in T20 Internationals.

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