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The wonderful world of cricket
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  1. P McCrory

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    Cricket geeks love numbers. It is amazing that there are only 42 rules of cricket but the statistics on the game fill libraries. I wonder whether the late Douglas Adams had that number in mind when he wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the planet-sized super computer “Deep Thought” came up with the same answer to the question of the meaning of life.

    What is it about cricket that brings out the nerdy statistician? The only thing that seems to be lacking in the sports medicine literature is a meta-analysis correlating the success rate of the Australian team with the numbers of papers written proposing a new way of calculating cricket statistics that relegate Australian players to lower positions on the performance tables.

    The latest piece that crossed my desk is some actuarial research that reduces the effect of “not out” innings in the calculation of batting performance.1 Strangely, Michael Bevan (who tops the one-day cricket batting averages) drops from an average of 53.6 to 38.7 and Michael Clarke from 44.2 to 34.7. To cap it off, Steve Waugh doesn’t even make it into the table. How fair can that be? Surprisingly, no English batsman is in the top 16 ranking even after fiddling with the statistics. Perhaps the International Cricket Council (ICC) could work on similar statistical methods of adjusting the overall team rankings when playing against inferior opposition teams. Anyone remember England’s performance in the most recent Ashes series?

    But I was struck by another recent paper on the economic analysis of cricket2 that listed no fewer than 17 papers on this topic …

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