## WCL, I-Cup and the WWT20Q; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast Russell Degnan

Lots of cricket, but not much diversity with seemingly the whole of the associate calendar moved to the UAE. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss the Kenyas victory over Namibia in the WCL (0:30), Hong Kongs victory over the UAE in the I-Cup (2:45), Omans participation in the warmups (5:30) and matches between full members and associates including Hong Kong, Nepal (6:54) and the USA womens side (11:27). There was a tournament in East Asia (13:38), and a womens tournament in north west Africa (15:49). In news, we discuss the possible ACC reappearance (17:15), Jersey to host WCL5 (18:39) and the return of Boyd Rankin to Ireland (19:37). And there are previews of the Womens World T20 in Thailand (20:41), and WCL and I-Cup matches ongoing (23:56).

Direct Download Running Time 30min. 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 - mens womens, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 17th November, 2015 21:02:07   [#] [0 comments]

## The somewhat predictable outcome; Ratings 13th November Russell Degnan

3rd TestPakistanvEngland
Post-rating1128.51095.2
Form+29.3-6.5
Expected MarginPakistan by 17 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 127 runs
Post-rating1142.91088.9
Series rating1210.71007.5

It is weird to think that a team with a 72 run first innings lead looked a unikely winner, but such was the predicament of England, batting last, and ever uncomfortable. Pakistan may not be technically at home, but their series rating is almost exactly what it would be if they were, and they play with the confidence of a team that knows it is superior.

Part of the problem for England was that their early lead was built on the back of Anderson and Broad, taking 6/30 off 28 overs in the first innings. The lack of spin support,and the need for rest allowed Pakistan a total of 234, and they couldnt repeat in the second innings, where Hafeez (151) and Azhar Ali retook the lead without loss, and a little tail wag built a defendable total.

A lack of big totals also hampered the English - also a sign that they were never comfortable batting against Yasir Shah and Shoaib Malik who took 14 wickets in the match. Five scores over 40 and no hundreds meant they only just passed 300 when they ought to have built an insurmountable lead. Cooks 63 showed what a fine batsman he is in Asia where patience is required, but the rest of the top order made 30 between them. Youll not win many games doing that.

1st TestAustraliavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1214.31007.0
Form-18.3+52.1
Expected MarginAustralia by 154 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 208 runs
Post-rating1216.61003.9

Aggressive declarations meant the margin in this match was somewhat short of what it might have been. New Zealand hardly looked like taking a wicket, and only Southee kept the run-scoring down to any degree. Boult, whose natural line ought to trouble the left-handers was punished when he dropped short, and didnt find enough movement to cause problems when full.

Australia is an excellent front-running team these days, and although New Zealand made them grind, and the Starc-Johnson combination continues to feel unbalanced, Lyon did enough to make it work, and Williamsons batting aside, New Zealand had too many overs to bat (almost three days, in total, excluding rain) to get the draw. McCullum might have raised the fleeting possibility of an unlikely chase, but the overs either side of the new ball ended both innings. The "home margin" on the ratings is beginning to look a little under-powered.

1st TestIndiavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1109.51267.9
Form+26.4-27.9
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 29 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 108 runs
Pre-rating1123.11251.3

Speaking of under-powered home advantages. India have often been on the wrong side of this, while South Africas away record is exemplary. But with Steyn injured in this match, and the BCCI not averse to beginning matches on a third day pitch - low, uneven, dusty, but still only needing to last into the "fifth" day - theyll be hard-pressed to come back in this series.

I rather like spinning pitches, and the sight of batsmen falling to looping, turning spin (even if in the first innings it was from Dean Elgar) is great entertainment. The batsmen showing their skills were a little light-on, only Vijay and Pujara performing for India, and Amla and de Villiers for South Africa. After both of them fell early in the chase, South Africa never looked a chance of making the target. An impression magnified by their confusion on when to play or leave, with several straight balls clattering into their stumps. Such are the tests of interesting wickets, and cricket is better for it, even if the broadcasters might wonder what happened to the schedule.

Rankings at 13th November 2015
1.South Africa1251.3
2.Australia1216.6
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.India1123.1
5.England1088.9
6.New Zealand1003.9
7.Sri Lanka980.8
8.West Indies859.2
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland640.3
11.Afghanistan586.2
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia337.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.248.5
17.Papua New Guinea219.4
18.Netherlands174.8
19.Hong Kong150.1

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

Idle Summers 13th November, 2015 20:50:58   [#] [0 comments]

## New summer, familiar problems, ratings 1st November Russell Degnan

1st/2nd TestPakistanvEngland
Pre-rating1115.21098.8
Form+15.7+13.1
Expected MarginPakistan by 8 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Pakistan by 178 runs
Post-rating1128.51095.2

A match that resembled a flat and windless Tour de France stage, with a flurry of action to finish, and barely any at all until the final session. England were ultimately stymied by the bad light, and playing conditions still too favourable to abandonment. They might too, point to Bells dropped catches in the first innings that cost them almost 200 runs, but that ignores Pakistans reckless finish and declaration in that same innings.

The most interesting side story of the match was Adil Rashid, for the 0/163 he conceded in the first, and the 5/64 that opened the match up in the second. He bowled poorly at first, unable to contain the batsmen who milked both spinners for boundaries without any risk. Yet his figures are less unflattering than might be supposed. A spin bowler with a first-class average in the mid-30s, bowling to batsmen with averages near 50 on a flat pitch should average in the 80s; and likewise, against the tail, on a turning fifth day pitch, his average should be in the teens. Thats the reality of a player picked to prosper in certain conditions, but forced to toil in those less to his liking. His inability to support the pacemen when they need it, by keeping the runs down, will be a problem, and was a problem in the second test where England lost.

The returning Yasir Shah showed the sort of parsimony that a spinner needs to bring in this match. The pitch was friendlier, but the ageless duo of Misbah ul Haq (102 and 87) and Younis Khan (56 and 118) offset the contributions of Root (88 and 71). Englands tail fought hard to keep the series tied into the final match, but facing almost 150 overs was too many against the combined spin of Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar.

England go to Sharjah with an advantage in batting depth and a weaker spin attack. It hasnt hurt them to bat second so far, as it favours their bowlers - who despite the flat deck in Abu Dhabi still saw movement in the air for periods - and forces Pakistan to declare. But Englands nervousness against spin, and preference for front-running would be mollified if they could establish themselves first. To date, despite Cooks form, it has been put almost entirely into staying in the match. Fighting, but not winning.

1st/2nd TestSri LankavWest Indies
Pre-rating980.8867.0
Form-40.8-10.9
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 107 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by an innings and 6 runs
Sri Lanka by 72 runs
Post-rating980.8859.2
Series rating1087.1759.1

The West Indies may have been sporting one of their better bowling lineups of recent years, but a batting order with Ramdin and Holder at 6 and 7 was unlikely to offer enough runs to win. As well as they played in the second test, they ultimately fell a long way short in scoring only 334 runs in the match. Herath, as ever, remains the workhorse on which Sri Lankas home victories are produced, taking 10 in the first test and 5 in the second. The runs were shared around, with big contributions from Thirimanne and Chandimal in the first and lesser, but more important efforts, from Siriwardana on debut in the second. Runs (and wickets) from Braithwaite, Bravo and Blackwood were useful, but insufficient. There is hope in this squad for the West Indies but there has been hope for a long time now, and they still cannot compete with the next weakest team in the top-8 away from home.

I-Cup MatchNamibiavIreland
Pre-rating369.1611.1
Form-41.1+44.6
Expected MarginIreland by 71 runs
Actual MarginIreland by an innings and 107 runs
Post-rating337.5640.3

Namibia have been at or near the top echelon of associate cricket for almost fifteen years, but there remains a strong sense of an over-promoted club side about their team, and performances. The glut of all-rounders and lack of strike-power is one of the key reasons, as is their difficulty keeping their best players. They smack of a team that might miss someone for a mates wedding, but provide a good tea, and play hard.

The lower middle order of Namibia (5-9) passed 20 eight times in this match, but only one score passed 50, the top order failed twice, and Porterfield and Joyce feasted on the bowling, putting on 326 in 66.2 overs, leaving plenty of time for the declaration and victory. Their victory propels them to the top of the table, and back to ninth in the rankings; now closer to the West Indies than the full member is to any team in the top-5, or Ireland to any associate apart from Afghanistan. The renewed push for divisions in test cricket is mostly a consequence of avoiding the need to play Zimbabwe or Bangladesh (or West Indies), but the continuing incongruity of associate nations being most competitive with the lower ranked full-members is a powerful argument for the dismantlement of the existing system.

3 TestsAustraliavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1214.31007.0
Form-18.3+52.1
Expected MarginAustralia by 154 runs

Welcome to the new era of Australian cricket. The last era never really got going, as the players coming through were either inadequate to the demands of test cricket, or inferior to the previous era of all-time greats. By the time they appeared, they were past their prime. Smith and Warner, very much entering their primes, lead a new generation that promises better results. But young-ish, inexperienced players also fail, often. Voges, Khawaja, Mitch Marsh and Burns all have a lot to prove, and a lot of (younger) contenders for their spots. Smith too, needs to show he can face a new ball, and thrive, or if he will need to be protected down the order, to properly utilise his talents.

They face a New Zealand side that went through a similar transition a half decade ago, and has just now hit its straps. Boult and Southee are potentially deadly if there is any sign of life in the Gabba pitch, while it remains unknown whether Australia will persist with the uneven lineup of Starc, Johnson and Hazlewood they carried through the Ashes, or insert Siddle to provide some stops. New Zealands batting is anchored by Williamson, who has likewise emerged as the player he always looked likely to be. But there is more talent in the rest of the lineup than your average New Zealand side as well, and they know they can win matches anywhere, having done so in England, the UAE and Australia on their last trip.

The ratings say and easy Australian win, and youd not tend to bet on them losing at the Gabba, even if you, like me, retain memories of Hadlees demolition thirty years ago. New Zealands form line, and Australias unknowns hint at a close and entertaining match, especially if the Kiwis bowl.

4 TestsIndiavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1109.51267.9
Form+26.4-27.9
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 29 runs

South Africa have not been a dominant number one team, but they have been one that hasnt lost often, including in India, which ought to have caused trouble for their pace attack. Pace through the air helps, as does sublime skill, and Steyn has both. The ratings and form line of this match indicates a series that could go to either side, with both sides containing both superbly talented and inconsistent batsmen, but a more uncertain bowling attack: South Africas somewhat neutered by conditions, Indias coming in to their own. Past series here have swung on the condition of the pitch, and that ought to work in Indias favour. But betting against South Africa has been unwise, so they ought to retain slight favouritism until we see otherwise.

Rankings at 1st November 2015
1.South Africa1267.9
2.Australia1214.4
3.Pakistan1128.5
4.India1109.5
5.England1095.2
6.New Zealand1000.5
7.Sri Lanka980.8
8.West Indies859.2
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland640.3
11.Afghanistan586.2
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia337.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.248.5
17.Papua New Guinea219.4
18.Netherlands174.8
19.Hong Kong150.1

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

Idle Summers 1st November, 2015 16:26:57   [#] [0 comments]

## U-19 Qualifiers and ICC News; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast Russell Degnan

The podcast returns with a little cricket and a lot of news. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss the under-19 World Cup qualifiers (0:23), the Ireland (1:50) and Afghanistan (7:20) tours of Zimbabwe, the Africa T20 Cup (9:58), and the South American championship in Chile (13:11). There are lots of news topics to digest, including player eligibility issue for Suriname at WCL6 (17:17). From the ICC meeting there were mooted changes to the world cup qualification process (20:46) , the womens world cup format (24:23), the formalisation of changes to funding for associates and affiliates (26:06), a renewed look at the Olympics (29:19), administrative problems in Nepal (34:18) and the end of WCL6? (37:52). There is more news from the Americas with the ICC team and the Warne-Tendulkar All-Star series (39:38), and globally: associate involvement in the WBBL (52:05) amongst some previews for WCL and Hong Kongs tour of the UAE.

Direct Download Running Time 55min. 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 - mens womens, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 29th October, 2015 08:25:16   [#] [0 comments]

## Batting form and the "hot hand" Russell Degnan

There has been an interesting paper in circulation recently that deals with the idea of a "hot hand", which in cricket terms wed refer to as "good form". It is primarily interesting because for several decades, the idea of streaks being anything other than random luck has been derided. Attempts to measure it in cricket have been few and far between, but there was little to suggest a batsman was more likely to score runs having just done so - or indeed, that they werent largely replicable with a random number generator.

The paper in question upends a key piece of prior research because of a rather simple, but slightly counter-intuitive piece of statistics. The various explanationstend towards the counter-intuitive end of the scale but Ill try to explain.

The technique being used is very elegant: take an action that occurs roughly 50% of the time and measure the number of successes that follow a previous success. If they are completely independent, the subsequent attempt will continue to have a probability of 50%. If the successes are clustered around other successes, that number ought to be higher.

The quirk, is that because strings of attempts are being measured, the average probability found in those strings will not actually be 50%. This is the counter-intuitive part, but is relatively easily seen on a simple graph:

Here is shown strings of eight attempts broken down into the number of times a measure took place (that is, the previous attempt saw a success). The number of instances of measurements breaks down as a binomial distribution centred on 3.5: 2 of zero (ooooooox and oooooooo) and seven (xxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxo), 14 of one and six, and so on as follows:

AttemptsOpportunities usedInstancesPercentage
002
114147.14
2844221.43
32107035.71
42807050.00
52104264.29
6841478.57
714292.86

The distribution of opportunities to take a measurement is similar, but because it takes more successful attempts to generate higher opportunities, it is shifted slightly across, and centred around 4 (or n/2). The breakdown also demonstrates the key to the problem: if four opportunities are to be had, the attempts will be distributed in such a way that the average success rate is 50%. But the only way to generate 7 opportunities is to have succeeded in each of the first 7 measurements. The percentage will be either 6/7 (83.33%) or 7/7 (100%). And as a consequence, the average of multiple strings of measurements ought to sit not at 50% (the middle of the opportunity distribution), but at the centre of the instances of measurement distribution (plus a term for the two extras) - around 45% for strings of length 8.

All very fascinating, particularly as it implies that previous studies showed a "hot hand" after all. But what does it say about cricket? The short answer is that this is a very elegant way of measuring form: find the median score for a batsman, if they surpass it, then test their subsequent score.

For Tendulkar, who played so many innings that the expected percentage is close to 50, his test "form" saw a 53.1% success rate in innings where he`d surpassed the median (excluding not outs below the median). In ODIs however (counting only matches where he opened) the figure drops to 50.5%.

That is only a single data point, and some batsmen are likely to be more prone to runs of form than others, but it also points to an issue. In ODI cricket, where multi-lateral series exist, a batsman tends to shuffle opposition quite quickly, and therefore face a reasonable variety of bowling strength from match to match. In test cricket, the subsequent innings is less likely to be independent from the first, without being held in identical conditions - the second innings being on a wearing pitch. Apparent runs of form may just be a string of matches against poor opposition.

Conversely, ODI cricket may be less prone to form, being a format that requires a higher amount of risk-taking, and therefore more luck. Hence a discrepancy between test and ODI matches is feasible. Comparing all innings adds in time gaps when a player might fall out of form (and vice versa), and a proper study ought to remove them. The relative sparsity of innings means that when a player is really in form, it would be hard to distinguish between that and luck with any method. Most likely the effect is small - perhaps three or four runs on a batting average, but probably half that.

Hence measuring the effect, if any, of form remains difficult. On selection matters, - the only avenue where form might matter - there is a lot to be said for judging a player on technique, temperament and overall career trajectory and ignoring runs of form. Everything else is largely academic, albeit an interesting question.

Idle Summers 16th October, 2015 00:45:10   [#] [0 comments]