Question: In ODIs, how does South Africa's toss and match result summary look, when batting and fielding?
Spider says: If serious sides only are considered (it's a fair bet that South Africa are overwhelming favourites to beat Holland or Canada regardless of what happens at the toss), their record to the end of the Champions Trophy looks like this:
Won toss and fielded: 85 games
Of these 85, they have won 51 and lost 30 (2 ties and a couple of unfinished matches)
This gives a winning percentage of 62.5% (NRs excluded)
Won toss and batted: 115 games
Of these 115, they have won 69 and lost 41 (2 ties and 3 unfinished matches)
This gives a winning percentage of 60% (NRs again excluded)
Q: And how does this compare to Australia's? (Maybe only in the comparable time period - i.e. from 1991/92 onwards)
A :Using the same criteria (start of the 1991/92 season to end of the Champions Trophy), Australia's record reads:
Won toss and fielded: 45 games
Of these 45, they have won 26 and lost 18 (1 tie)
This gives a winning percentage of 57.8% (NRs excluded)
Won toss and batted: 168 games
Of these 168, they have won 106 and lost 56 (1 tie and 5 unfinished matches)
This gives a winning percentage of 65% (NRs again excluded)
So while both sides have tended to prefer to bat first, Australia's preference has been overwhelmingly stronger than South Africa's, and understandably so - South Africa's success-rate is not tremendously different whether they have chosen to bat or field first. The difference for Australia is almost three times bigger (7.2% to 2.5%).
Q: And as a final quality check, how has the two sides' luck with the toss gone?
A: Australia have played 440 serious games since 1991/92, winning the toss 213 times and losing it 227; South Africa's 396 have seen them win the toss 200 times and lose it 196.
Q: In Twenty20 Internationals so far, what is the biggest opening partnership?
A: 145, between Chris Gayle and Devon Smith in the 2007/08 World Twenty20 - this is the highest-ever Twenty20 International stand.
Q: And how about last-wicket?
A: 28, by Jacob Oram and Jeetan Patel against Australia at the WACA, also in 2007/08.
Q: Since the 1999 World Cup, how many times have Australia won the toss, batted first and seen the score they have set prove inadequate?
A: There have been 26 such occasions so far, the most memorable of course being the famous match at The Wanderers in 2005/06.
Q: And how many times have they been put in to be restricted to a total that the inserting side managed to chase?
A: Just 10 of these in the entire decade.