Saturday, 18 July 2009

Lord's Nelsons

111 was bad news for the Australians today.

I've been playing around with a slightly modified version of the Runs/Wickets state ideas I'd mentioned earlier this year. I'm moving in the direction of 'Win Expectancy', although to do it properly, one needs to use a Markov chain I think.

Here are my calculations of the chances of an Australian victory after the fall of each Australian wicket:

Opening of Australian innings: 11.2 per cent
Hughes +8.6
Ponting +2.5
Katich no change
Hussey -9.3
Clarke -2.6
North +4.6
Johnson +1.2
Haddin -2.2

This data might indicate something I've been thinking about for a while, which is that the openers' wickets aren't as important as may be thought. Any runs they score helps their team's cause. The crucial point in the match is the battle for the 3rd and 4th wickets. If these fall cheaply, in quick succession, that shifts the advantage toward the bowling side quite strongly.

In today's play Katich's and Hussey's stand didn't help out very much, because after Hughes and Ponting were out for low scores, it was vital for the third-wicket partnership to make up the difference. They didn't, and to dismiss Hussey for only eight more runs after Katich was caught by Broad put the Australians in a very difficult situation.

Of course, each wicket only affects the match a small amount, so one shouldn't put too much weight on the third and fourth wickets. It's not hard to recover lost ground with a fifty partnership for the sixth or seventh wicket. That's the beauty of Test cricket, that it's so finely balanced at any given moment.

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