Comeback. I’m sorry :'(

There was a ripple of excitement on Twitter last night when Ivory Coast beat Japan 2-1, meaning 4 out of the first 8 matches at the World Cup finals had been won by a team conceding the first goal. Obviously the excitement touched on maths, and every now and then I try to provide a little helpful maths advice on Twitter. It rarely ends well: 00000 Continue reading – plenty of cric, not so much info

The international cricket season isn’t far away, so doubtless we can soon expect a steady diet of stories like these, carving up a whole pile of numbers and telling us that the reason a cricketer / cricket team is succeeding / failing is… well, just about anything.

S Rajesh of cricinfo, though, is obsessed with the idea that performance is affected by the location of a match – whether it’s the ground, the country, one’s home country, one’s home country (again), or even the continent. (Indicative quote: “Clearly, Hafeez’s problem has been facing the new ball outside Asia.” Ummm… yeah. Clearly.)

His theories may be right. But there is so much wrong with the way he tests them that I’m not really sure where to begin. The formula seems to be something like this:

Pose a question, attributing something to a single variable: could Sri Lanka’s recent success be linked to the colour of their shoelaces? Continue reading

Oh Duckworth-Lewis, you loveable rogue – why are you treated like the creepy cardiologist uncle of the stats family?

Duckworth and Lewis don’t get a lot of love for their invention, a fact which seems to point to a collectively short memory for cricket fans. Without DL’s clever method for resolving rain-interrupted (or abandoned) matches, we had to put up with a steady stream of one-day international controversies, including the the 1992 world cup semi final (full video horror from the 20 minute mark here). The results were – to describe them just one way – weird, disappointing and counter intuitive. (Another way is, they were bullshit.)

And yet, whenever rain falls or darkness moves in, officials have a heart attack and have to turn to the creepy uncle to fix it all and prevent yet another controversy (or, at least, prevent a statistically indefensible one). Continue reading

The best team(s) in the world

With the current Ashes series already decided, the redux in November will already be uppermost in the minds of most supporters of the Australian team (assuming they’re not in the nets, with a plan to play some sub-district cricket and hopefully make a run at the Ashes squad).

But if they’re excited about the Ashes, I’m sure they’re thrilled at the prospect of the Generic Beer One Day series, starting in January (fixtures weirdly hidden in the margin of the Cricket Australia website). Who could forget previous winners of this comp, like… ? (frantic Google tapping noises)… like just about everyone at some point or another.

It wasn’t that long ago that the series had three teams and the finals apparently meant something. Listen to the crowd going off here, with Gordon Greenidge at the crease in 1989 (and watch the reaction of the winners – I won’t give away the ending).

Whereas now you more often see articles – with depressing photographic accompaniment – like this. Continue reading

Ornaments to the game

It’s surprising to pick up the Age and find out, twice in a week, that talented AFL players are, in fact, wall ornaments. But, that’s what Matthew Lloyd would have us believe about Brett Deledio, and Matt Murnane about Jeff Garlett: they’re barometers.

I’m sure they mean well. Something like, “when Deledio’s playing well, the Tigers are too”, or “when the Blues win, Garlett usually kicks a bag”.

Well, which is it? Do the teams influence the players, or vice-versa? Murnane has a go at answering this:

‘It is an interesting thought for Blues supporters to ponder – do Garlett and Betts play well because Carlton are winning, or do the Blues win because Garlett and Betts are playing well? A group of former Carlton greats posed that question this week said the answer probably was somewhere in the middle. It’s the “chicken and the egg”, so to speak.’

So I guess that’s vice-versa-versa-vice. Well done to the group of Carlton greats for working it out for us. What they may be saying is that there is a feedback loop between the teams and players… which, possibly, makes Lloyd’s and Murnane’s articles redundant (potential headline: Players excels in team, team wins… Player even excels more! Team wins by even more! … continue until you run out of exclamation marks). Continue reading