Sunday, 10 June 2018

West Indies vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, 5th Day

I have resumed taking a more intense interest in cricket, and in the last couple of weeks have made a few comments over at Reddit, on the r/cricket reddit. (I did the same last summer, but without any lasting effect, so I do not promise to have resumed regular posts.)

The rest of this is a re-post of a slightly edited version of a post I made over there.

This all started when I checked CricViz' calculation of 'who was winning', against my own rather more nebulous 'Test Win Expectancy' model during the Mendis-Matthews partnership. Going by the match position, I thought Sri Lanka had grounds for optimism, even to the point that I suspected CricViz was doing something badly wrong. Having studied the data a bit more thoroughly in the light of subsequent events, I have to set my optimism for Sri Lanka's chances aside altogether. Basically, I had overrated the batting resources remaining to Sri Lanka. The actual target is not unattainable, on the face of it, but one wouldn't want to start from here.

In bald terms, Sri Lanka need two century partnerships between Mendis, Dickwella and a returned Chandimal. (A 50 from Dilruwan Perera would reduced the pressure on those three, but we're still talking about three big partnerships.)

The wickets of Kusal Perera and Silva fell at scores below par, while the Mendis-Matthews partnership was well above par. However, given the mammoth number of the target, Sri Lanka need multiple wickets to go well above par. Basically Mendis has already done his bit, and it is expecting too much of him to add substantially to his current score. (It could happen, of course, to the delight of Sri Lanka's supporters.)

So, now we are down to an uncertain Chandimal and Dickwella, who has a Test average of 33 and no centuries to his name. With those resources, it's hard to feel any optimism that 200 runs could be scored over the next two wickets. Of course, tails can wag, but the Sri Lankan tail-enders will be hard-pressed to make 77 runs between them, going by their averages, which make James Anderson look good.

As I suspected, and one can read on Reddit, Silva's wicket was crucial. My mistake was not to weight it heavily enough in subsequent posts. CricViz' 89% chance of a WIndies' victory doesn't look so far-fetched.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

2010 T20 Champions' League Preview Thought

One of the questions I have tinkered with off and on is trying to gauge the level of quality of different domestic cricket competitions. My limited research so far suggests that Australia's domestic level in first-class cricket is very high, and quite probably higher than some Test series between weaker sides.

On the surface, the T20 Champions' League might seem to make an easy job of it, but the number of matches played is so few that I would be very wary of using it as a barometer. However, the more of these competitions played, the better we'll be able to make judgements. What will be particularly of interest this year will be whether Indian sides again fail to rise above the mediocre level.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

2010 Match-Fixing Scandal

Knee-jerk reaction is never altogether helpful in a matter like this.

However, listening to The World This Weekend on the Home Service this lunchtime, one heard exactly what the root of the problem was: How does a young Pakistani cricketer make a realistic wage in an industry where his place is subject to the whims of an unstable organization? Mihir Bose suggested that ready money from the gamblers trumped the graft of becoming a big star and gaining sponsorships.

Bose said that the problem was that international cricket 'lacked the teeth' to enforce the real change needed to end the repeated influence of gamblers on international cricket once and for all. He blamed the relaxed gentlemanly attitudes of the 'English club', as opposed to the French-style officiousness of other international sporting organizations such as FIFA. Then he suggested that the BCCI would never give up the power it wielded to an international body. So the end is that there is no solution.

I'd argue that if the problem is the distribution of income to players, then the solution rests in the players' hands, as the relaxed gentlemanly attitudes suggest. Basically, Pakistani cricketers need a strong players' organization to fight on their behalf to ensure that selection is stable and that the rewards of playing international cricket are sufficient that only those who are not sporting cricketers in the first place will be tempted by the gamblers.

In other words, a strong and powerful union, which will need to function at an international level to be effective.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Pakistan in England, 2010, 4th Test.3

Hic sunt leones, a medieval cartographer might say of the parts unknown in which we find ourselves, win expectancy-wise.

Basically, England have about a 70 per cent chance of winning this match. But we've seen some violent swings in win expectancy today, and I'd be surprised if there aren't more during the rest of this match.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Pakistan n England 2010, 4th Test.2

Phew! You'd think Pakistan would be on top of the world after that first session. And you'd almost be right.

Unsurprisingly, breaking out the win expectancy calculator reveals that Pakistan's best chance of winning occurred after the fall of Morgan's wicket.

However, in between, surprisingly, the fall of Collingwood's wicket saw a big swing to England. When wickets fall fast, it's a case of what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, as the pattern is set for the match. The side bowling second gets all the traditional advantages of the side bowling second, so wickets tumble even faster.

Pakistan's key wickets were those of Pietersen and Morgan. Even better for Pakistan, the current Trott-Prior partnership has seen England's win expectancy fall to its lowest level of the match, as the chance of a draw gradually rises.

At the moment, Pakistan have about a two-thirds chance of winning this match, and nearly a 9/10 chance of not losing it.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Pakistan in England 2010, 4th Test.1

The dismissal of Strauss had minimal impact on the Win Expectancy. England's chances of victory went down less that 0.1 per cent. Which is just another data point in my developing case that you don't actually need a big run total from your opening pair.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Bradman Class and Sabermetrics

My link in yesterday's blog, which was to a discussion on the validity of sabermetric methods for cricket, was itself generated by the publication of this paper in The Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports.

The authors propose a new method of evaluating Test batsmen, which tries to incorporate the consistency of a batsman's innings. Someone like Alistair Cook has a high average this year, but it's a consequence of a couple of big innings, rather than consistency. His median score is quite low. The question the paper's authors don't address, however, is whether a consistent batsman is more likely to produce Test match wins. What they do look at is the relative importance of a batsman's average to that of his team-mates, but this isn't the same thing.

This is where most of what passes for sabermetric research in cricket misses the point. Ranking batsmen is jolly good fun for a discussion down the pub. What I want to know, however, is the relationship between runs and wins.

And that's what I still regard as my key discovery: it is more important to stop your wicket from being taken than to score masses of runs. This means it is more important to have bowlers who take wickets than to have batsmen who score runs. The secret to success in Test cricket is the right balance between how quickly you take wickets, and how slowly you lose them. The first building block in this is to find bowlers, not batsmen. And that raises an interesting question about the relationship between bowlers' overuse and injuries or declines in effectiveness.