Possible methods for deciding test match draws
Russell Degnan

The proposals for a rebirth of a test championship raises the interesting question of what to do when a knockout test match is drawn. The broader context allows some default options, such as the higher ranked, or higher placed team progressing, or to calculate an aggregate margin in a drawn series. But depending on the format, there will often be occasions when teams need to be separated within a single match. Six options are discussed below, and their merits.

For the purposes of an example, Australia`s most recent draws (against New Zealand and West Indies) will be cited. Assume in both cases that it was a single match series.

By a timeless test

The traditional option, in many ways, as it was used to decide series in Australia even after the war, when the final test was decisive.

Pros: Result is not contrived, but within the match.
Cons: Discourages assertive batting; can cause significant scheduling problems if a test is drawn out, particularly in a tight tournament.

v NZ: Australia would have batted on in both innings, without the loss of wickets that proceeded the declaration. New Zealand would need at least 217 runs with 8 wickets in hand.
v WI: Another 28 wickets needed to be taken. Practically another test match.

By T20 / super over or equivalent

Five days of cricket completed in a different format, just to get one.

Pros: Is quick, entertaining, and decisive.
Cons: Ignores the result of the actual test; is also stymied by rain (particularly on day 5); would encourage teams that were beind (or strong at T20) to play for a draw.

By first innings totals

In the event of a draw the highest first innings would win. A format commonly used in club cricket, and to get results in first class competitions.

Pros: Makes for exciting cricket in the first innings, as a team must stay in front.
Cons: Would discourage declarations and attacking cricket; It is possible to rain out a first innings too.

NZ 624 def AUS 9/559
AUS require 154 runs. Match result undetermined.

By average (runs/wickets) for the series

In the event that the final match of a series was a decider, the average per wicket for the whole series could be used in the event of a draw. Otherwise this is equivalent to the count back method, below.

Pros: Gives teams a clear idea of what they need to do.
Cons: Favours the side batting last as they`ll only use their best batsmen; in a series works against the team that won the decisive moments (ala England in `09 and `15); discourages going for a result over building a big total; encourages declaring on tail-enders.

NZ 60.67 def AUS 59.00
AUS 88.00 def WI 33.00

By limiting the total overs (1st and 2nd innings combined)

In this format a team must declare their second innings (the third innings) when they have used half the match overs (usually 225). The team with the highest total would win, regardless of wickets. In the event of rain or slow over rates the allotted overs would need to be adjusted - in the event of late rain this would require a D/L style decision (or count back, as below). A single reserve day would significantly reduce the threat of confusing results.

Pros: Provides a finishing chase on the final day; ensures both teams to know what they need to do.
Cons: Could become messy with lost overs; a lot of rain would end up like an ODI.

In the match: AUS 236 overs for 944 runs vs NZ 182 overs for 724 runs
In this scenario: AUS 215 overs for 849 runs, leaving NZ 33 overs to get 125 (8 wickets in hand)

In this match: WI 113 overs for 330 runs v AUS 38 overs for 176 runs
In this scenario: WI D/L adjusted to 53 overs, leaving AUS ~10 runs in 15 overs (8 wickets in hand)

By count back

In this format, the team that was ahead at the loss of that particular wicket in their own innings would be declared the winner when time ran out. This would mean at any time in the match (after the first innings) a team could tell if they were in front.

Pros: Doesn`t unduly favour either side, and allows a match to fluctuate particularly as a draw approaches; discourages bowling for a declaration.
Cons: Encourages run-scoring over chasing a target; could be controversial if umpires end a match for light (ala PAK v ENG in UAE)

NZ 668/12 def AUS 601/12
Australia`s next wicket was at 829, meaning Australia would win if they`d taken a wicket in the last hour.
AUS 176/2 def WI 115/3
West Indies 7th wicket was at 246 meaning West Indies would need to take 5 wickets for less than 73 runs in the last hour.

Idle Summers 6th February, 2016 16:40:48   [#] [0 comments] 

WCL, I-Cup and the U19 WC; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

The Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League championship returned albeit without much play in Hong Kong, and in a series of one-sided encounters between the Netherlands and UAE. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss the recent round of matches, and the ongoing Ireland-PNG series (0:20). The U-19 world cup is half run and Nepal and Namibia produced some significant upsets (9:00). And Afghanistan is playing Zimbabwe again (18:00). There were aso matches by the ICC Americas side in the West Indies (19:50) and mens and womens East-Asia-Pacific squads in country Australia (21:40). The ICC conference was ongoing when we record, but we set the scene for the numerous discussions being held (24:00). There is news from Hong Kong with the suspension of Irfan Ahmed and ascension of Ryan Campbell (29:30), Ireland women (38:30) and not enough regarding Suriname as WCL5 draws closer (42:00). Finally, we preview the Asia Cup (35:00).

Direct Download Running Time 46min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men`s women`s, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 5th February, 2016 23:46:40   [#] [0 comments] 

2015 Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

As the new year begins, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss the best players (7:00), the teams that impressed or didn`t (14:00), highlights (25:00), lowlights (29:30) and the state of the game in 2016 (30:10). There is also a review of Afghanistan`s ongoing series against Zimbabwe (0:20); news from Afghanistan (46:10) and the WBBL (48:50), and a review of the January I-Cup and WCLC series between UAE and Netherlands, and Hong Kong and Scotland (51:00). Finally, a big shout out to all our interviewees and listeners over the last year.

Direct Download Running Time 53min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men`s women`s, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 4th January, 2016 21:46:12   [#] [0 comments] 

Losing before you begin; Ratings 26th December
Russell Degnan

4th TestIndiavSouth Africa
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 10 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 337 runs
Series rating1329.01044.5

To the extent that the position of teams on my personal rankings is an interesting subplot, the finale to the South African innings threw one up when they finished a mere 8 runs short of maintaining their number one ranking. Had they known and cared, the 5/7 they lost in the final 4 overs of the match might have mattered. As it was, the now familiar script, of a terrible collapse, offset by some decent pace bowling (this time from Abbott) and comparatively ineffective part-time and full-time spin.

The comparison is, perhaps, unfair. Ashwin and Jadeja are well suited to the conditions, and took full advantage, taking 54 wickets between them at 11. The extent of their dominance is best seen in the batting averages where only de Villiers (36.85) averaged over 20 for South Africa. By contrast, Rahane, perhaps one of my favourite young cricketers, with his engaged attitude and intelligent play, showed his class as well, scoring the only two centuries of the series in the final test.

South Africa`s extraordinary 143 over attempt to salvage a draw was admirable, but ultimately they fell well short, owing to their failures earlier in the match; and their total, of only 143, meant that even that level of focus, shorn of shots, would not have changed the series. They lead into their next series against England with many questions over their batting, and the feeling that an era has passed.

2 TestsNew ZealandvSri Lanka
Expected MarginNew Zealand by 74 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 122 runs
New Zealand by 5 wickets
Series rating1123.9888.3

New Zealand showed two sides to their game in this series. In the first, on the back of Guptill`s 156 and Williamson`s 88, they accelerated the first innings and declaring aggressively in the second. Batting 50 overs fewer than Sri Lanka in the match mattered when there were fewer than 50 overs left in the fifth day at the moment of victory, and other sides would have missed the opportunity. In the second, the efforts of Chameera (5/47) left them chasing the game from a 55 run deficit. But the tail ground out 59 extra runs from 5/168 and 47 crucial runs from 5/142 in the chase - by contrast, Sri Lanka lost 5/33 in their first innings and 5/23 in their second. Sri Lanka really ought to have put more pressure on than they did, but they struggle with that, away from home, and Williamson`s ton was sufficient to turn a low scoring match.

New Zealand continue to impress, and a weak series by England in South Africa could see them enter the top-5 for the first time since 2003. Sri Lanka continue their slow decline, no doubt hastened by the retirement of Sangakarra; their lowest ranking since 1999. They have a long way to fall to the West Indies and the teams below, and there was some promise in this performance. But their inability to score more than 300, and the relative innocuity of their pace attack limits their options for winning matches. Herath aside, and then only at home, Sri Lanka don`t have anyone who`ll take a game away in a couple of sessions. And that makes for a rocky path to victory.

1st TestAustraliavWest Indies
Expected MarginAustralia by 223 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by an innings and 212 runs

Jason Holder is a very admirable cricketer. A potentially brilliant one, who ought to be given every opportunity to do so, but is instead saddled as the captain of a team that barely fits the description. Like Darren Sammy before him, he is their best performing bowler, but not a very dangerous one, and a useful batsman, but not capable of playing as a batsman alone (even for this team). Sammy, at least by dint of experience, managed to wrangle the best out of some of his players. Holder appears to be fighting a losing battle to keep his team from arching their necks towards the BBL and joining their countrymen. On the basis of this test, they`d be better off doing so, and abandoning the series to a team that did care.

Holder bowled neat lines, but Voges and Marsh were untroubled in their epic partnership of 449, and he had practically no support. Similarly, Bravo, and Brathwaite can both bat, and proved it, but got 55 runs from the rest of the top-6 combined, over two innings. Australia played well, and managed in the process, to put aside the expectations of an easy victory, and make it happen. Whether Boxing Day can provide some impetus for a better West Indies performance, and even a contest remains to be seen. The rated performance of the West Indies in Hobart would put them 12th on the rankings, and that might be generous. That`s a big hole to climb out of, and a lot to burden a young player with, if Holder is to motivate them to at least look like they are trying.

4 TestsSouth AfricavEngland
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 108 runs

It will be a sweet homecoming for South Africa, having come away from India having failed to come to terms with the spinning wickets that nullified their pace advantage. Yet, England, even potentially without Anderson, have their own pace bowlers who can offer some danger, and the turmoil in the South African batting order remains. The feeling is that this is a series between two flawed, and possibly limited sides, reasonably well matched, with the English rising, and the South Africans falling. The ratings though, project that into the future, and the home advantage, such as it is, ought to be enough for South Africa to win, perhaps comfortably, against a side that remains young, but for a few stalwarts. Steyn`s return will make a huge difference, and expect South Africa to win, but not always have it their own way.

Rankings at 26th December 2015
2.South Africa1204.7
6.New Zealand1048.5
7.Sri Lanka969.4
8.West Indies841.8

17.Papua New Guinea217.6
18.Hong Kong183.6

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don`t play each other.

Idle Summers 25th December, 2015 23:32:19   [#] [0 comments] 

Women`s WT20 Qualifiers; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

Thailand played host to the women`s world T20 qualifiers, with Ireland winning the final over Bangladesh and qualifying for the main event. (2:10) Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss that tournament, the Afghanistan-PNG I-Cup match (8:13), the WCL matches between Hong Kong and UAE (12:27), and PNG and Nepal (14:23), plus the other (fairly pointless T20 matches in the UAE (17:26), and the Gulf T20 Cup (19:42). We begin the podcast with some thoughts on Raymond van Schoor, who passed away unexpectedly after suffering a stroke on the field. And there is news from Nepal, with their long-time coach, Dassanayake, has moved on (20:54), from Hong Kong who`ve had their Mission Road ground approved (23:21), the UAE`s plans to professionalise cricket (27:04), and from the ICC (and other`s) wandering into US cricket (28:43).

Direct Download Running Time 38min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men`s women`s, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 10th December, 2015 18:33:04   [#] [0 comments]