Over the years one day international cricket scores have been on the rise and this post intends to look into this in some detail. We shall restrict ourselves to first innings scores where the team batting first lasted exactly 50 overs. Hence games greater than 50 overs per team long or where a team was bowled out prematurely are omitted. There are 2349 (out of 3945) such matches according to this query on Cricinfo Statsguru and on average 7 wickets fall over the 50 overs. The plot below shows a scatter plot of the scores over time. The red curve shows that mean scores were steady around 225 during the 1980s and have been on the rise since 1990 so that now the mean score is approaching 300.

Note that the first data point in 1974 corresponds to a game that was reduced to 50 overs per side after originally intended to be a 55 over game.

If we slice the data into eras marked by calendar years of roughly equal numbers of games, the mean score had a slight slow-down in the rate of increase from 2008-2012, then accelerated again in the past five years.

Era | Number of matches | Mean score batting first |

1974-1994 | 427 | 229 |

1995-1999 | 383 | 247 |

2000-2003 | 368 | 257 |

2004-2007 | 380 | 267 |

2008-2012 | 393 | 272 |

2013-2017 | 398 | 288 |

1974-2017 |
2349 |
260 |

The histograms below show how rarely teams score less than 200 runs in recent times when using the full quota of 50 overs. In fact these days a team is more likely to score over 400 than below 200 if using the full quota of 50 overs!

Comparing the distribution of first innings winning versus losing scores we find that the mean scores are 275 vs 236 respectively with sample sizes 1392 vs 901 (34 games had no result and 22 were tied). Restricting to the past five years, the median score batting first for the full 50 overs in winning matches is exactly 300.

Interestingly if we break down the runs scatter plot by team, the trends are not the same across the board. In particular England and South Africa have had more dramatic increases in recent times than the other teams, especially compared with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Restricting to the last five years (2013-2017), here are the mean first innings scores for each team based on the match result (assuming they bat the full 50 overs).

Team | Result | mean score | # matches |

Afghanistan | lost | 249 | 6 |

Afghanistan | won | 260 | 12 |

Australia | lost | 295 | 13 |

Australia | n/r | 253 | 3 |

Australia | won | 310 | 31 |

Bangladesh | lost | 263 | 16 |

Bangladesh | won | 275 | 15 |

Canada | lost | 230 | 3 |

England | lost | 282 | 13 |

England | won | 329 | 22 |

Hong Kong | won | 283 | 4 |

India | lost | 282 | 12 |

India | won | 310 | 27 |

Ireland | lost | 244 | 6 |

Ireland | tied | 268 | 1 |

Ireland | won | 289 | 3 |

Kenya | lost | 260 | 1 |

Netherlands | lost | 265 | 1 |

New Zealand | lost | 277 | 12 |

New Zealand | tied | 314 | 1 |

New Zealand | won | 308 | 27 |

P.N.G. | lost | 218 | 2 |

P.N.G. | won | 232 | 1 |

Pakistan | lost | 266 | 9 |

Pakistan | n/r | 296 | 1 |

Pakistan | tied | 229 | 1 |

Pakistan | won | 290 | 20 |

Scotland | lost | 238 | 6 |

Scotland | won | 284 | 8 |

South Africa | lost | 258 | 7 |

South Africa | n/r | 301 | 1 |

South Africa | won | 321 | 36 |

Sri Lanka | lost | 249 | 15 |

Sri Lanka | n/r | 268 | 2 |

Sri Lanka | tied | 286 | 1 |

Sri Lanka | won | 305 | 22 |

U.A.E. | lost | 279 | 3 |

U.A.E. | won | 267 | 3 |

West Indies | lost | 265 | 10 |

West Indies | won | 298 | 10 |

Zimbabwe | lost | 247 | 9 |

Zimbabwe | tied | 257 | 1 |

Zimbabwe | won | 276 | 1 |

The England and South Africa numbers stand out the most here in winning causes. Also Australia has a particularly high average score of 294 in losing causes. Sri Lanka has the largest difference (56 runs) between average winning and losing scores.

**Edit**: The following shows the mean scores in the 100 matches prior to and after key rule changes (still focusing on first innings 50-over scores). Note that in two of the three cases, the average scores reduced.

- Restriction of 2 outside the 30-yard circle in the first 15 overs (’92 World Cup)

03 Jan 88 to 20 Jan 92:**231**

12 Feb 92 to 16 Feb 94:**222** - Introduction of Powerplay overs

13 Mar 04 to 30 Jun 05:**267**

07 Jul 05 to 08 Sep 06:**267** - Removal of powerplay, fifth fielder allowed outside the circle in the last ten overs

17Aug 14 to 24 Jun 15:**301**

10 Jul 15 to 19 Jan 17:**289**