Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Searching for the Power Law in a historical analysis of Test cricket

Venkatesh Govindarajan



Active research has been going on to observe and validate the Power Law in physics, computer science, economics, linguistics, sociology, geophysics etc. Newton’s Law of Gravitation, the Coulomb force equation, Gutenberg-Richter Law for earthquake sizes, Pareto’s Law of income distribution (the famed ’80-20 Law’), inter alia, are all classic examples of the Power Law. This paper starts off with the hypothesis that the Power Law is applicable to several aspects of the ‘system’ of Test cricket – distribution of runs scored, matches played, wickets taken, half-centuries and centuries scored, catches pouched, etc., and investigates data accumulated and organised from a single statistical source on the Internet – – in order to test this hypothesis. It was found out that there is a healthy conformity to the Power Law for almost all the aspects of the game of cricket. The inferences are dependent on the timing of the study. What is inferred in this analysis is not necessarily what has been applicable to the ‘system’ of Test cricket all along, or what can be assumed to always apply to it in the future. The hypothesis has to be tested dynamically, at regular intervals of time. It can also be extended to several other aspects not considered in this paper, to other versions of this sport – One-day cricket and the Twenty20 matches – as well as to other sports.


Power law; Cricket; Systems science


Aidt, T., Leong, B, Saslaw, W & Sgroi, D (2006). A power law distribution for the tenure lengths of sports managers. Physica A, 370, pp. 697-703.

Ball P. (2004). Critical Mass – how one thing leads to another, Random House, UK

Guilimi, C., Galleati, M., & Gaffeo, E. (2003). Power law scaling in the world income distribution, Economics Bulletin, 15(6), pp.1-7.

Howstat Computing Services. Accessed between 2009 and 2010.

Kühnert, C., Helbing, D & West, G. (2006). Scaling laws in urban supply networks. Physica A, 363, pp.96-103.

Lämmer, S., Gehlsen, B. & Helbing, D. (2006). Scaling laws in the spatial structure of urban road networks. Physica A, 363, pp.89-95.

Levy, M., & Solomon, S. (1997). New evidence for the Power Law distribution of wealth. Physica A, 242 (1-2), pp 90-94.

Shiode, N., & Batty, M. (2000). Power law distribution in real and virtual worlds. UCL Discovery, paper 19. Accessed in February 2010.

Solomon, S. & Richmond, P. (2001). Power laws of wealth, market order volumes and market returns. Physica A, 299, pp.188-197.


Copyright (c) 2015 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.