Friday, April 20, 2012

On Why A Century Is Not Entirely An Arbitrary Milestone

The figure 100 is a nice round figure. It has been under scrutiny recently especially because Sachin Tendulkar reached his 100th international century. But why does it matter? Does a player who makes 95 contribute significantly less to a team than a player who makes 105? Is the difference between scoring 95 and 105 significantly dissimilar to that between scoring 85 and 95?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A tough session of cricket watching

I woke up this morning determined to get some work done before I looked in on the Test Match in Trinidad. It was almost Tea time at the Queens Park Oval by the time I turned to Cricinfo. The Cricinfo commentator's summary after two sessions of play says the following:

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Classic T20 Apology

Harsha Bhogle has just published another one of his mealy mouthed (meaning 1 on this page, lest I be misunderstood) non-arguments on Cricinfo. This time it is a commentary on Lawrence Booth's first Wisden as Editor. In this article he makes each of the following claims:

Sunday, April 08, 2012

On Commentary After DRS

Since the advent of ball tracking, a remarkable number of former cricketers have stopped offering an opinion on an LBW appeal before seeing the ball-track. The rare exception to this is Ian Chappell, who, at times, has the confidence in his own cricketing judgment to say that he thinks something is Out when the ball-track tells us otherwise. I saw an example of this today. I was watching a few overs of the Barbados Test over lunch, when the Cricinfo commentator reported an event thus. He was very unfair to Umpire in this instance in my view:
135.4 Lyon to Chanderpaul, no run, forward and an appeal for lbw on off stump, immediately turned down by Tony Hill but they'll review this. I thought it was a good shout...but he's saved by millimetres as hawk-eye has it hitting off stump every so slightly off centre so it stays on the field, very unlucky and, for Chanderpaul, a good job the umpire gave it not out
This was yet another one of those decisions which should never have been reviewed using the ball-track. The TV Umpire should have had the chance to look at Hill's original decision and say "That's marginal, and its reasonable to give that Not Out, so I'm not going to ask for the Ball-Track's opinion on this". This would not be a simple matter of being nice to the Umpire on the field, but it has scientific merit as well.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

An Analysis Of the Switch Hit Episode

Switch hitting has been seen in international cricket for many years now. The New Zealander Craig McMillan did it early in his career and on at least one occasion (if i remember correctly) the Umpire called it dead ball. Kevin Pietersen has been playing the switch-hit since at least 2006. He played it in 2007 and it became a big issue in 2008 when the MCC decided that the stroke would be approved. The reporting about switch-hits, four years after the MCC approved the stroke, and nearly two years after the ICC issued a directive on the switch-hit, remains confused. This guidance, as reported in the Hindu is as follows:
[T]he ICC adopted the updated directive introduced earlier in the year, which prevents the batsman from altering his grip or stance before the bowler enters his delivery stride. Should the bowler see a batsman change his grip or stance prior to the delivery stride the bowler can decide not to bowl the ball.
After Kevin Pietersen was warned for time wasting  by Umpires Rauf and Oxenford during his brilliant 151 at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, nearly every single report suggested that he was warned for attempting to play the switch-hit. That it was his attempt to play the shot that was being penalized.

I felt at first that the Umpires had handled this well. But it became apparent to me after thinking through the matter that the new switch-hit rule is in fact a terribly difficult thing to implement, and that the Umpires could not possibly have implemented it properly. In this post I explain why this is so.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Player Review Problem In DRS

Updated at the end
Jonathan Agnew has this to say about Dilshan's dismissal on Day 4 at Colombo
I do feel sorry for Tillakaratne Dilshan, whose dismissal was upheld by the review system despite 10 minutes of replays failing to prove he had edged the ball.
I don't think he edged it, and neither does anybody I have spoken to during the day. I cannot see how we can give a man out when we have no evidence.
We are in such a quandary with the review system. There is no piece of technology good enough to show if the ball has definitely taken the edge and that means it is flawed.
There appears to be a consensus that the most uncontroversial aspect of the Decision Review System, is the Player Review. It is also apparently self evident that the Player Review is not part of the technology of the DRS. The technology, in this neatly compartmentalized (for no good reason if you think about it) view of DRS is the ball-tracking system, the stump microphone, the heat signature device, the video replay and other such cybernetic devices. I asked David Richardson (ICC's General Manager of Cricket Operations) why the ICC thought the player review was a good idea. This is his reply
The idea of DRS was never to de-skill the umpires. Therefore the umpires should make a decision as they would normally and then the players would seek a review. Why? As you will have seen with some line decisions and recently with checking of no balls there is an understandable tendency of umpires to check to be 100 per cent correct. When the umpires review was used in some matches (not international fixtures) there were an ever growing number of decisions being referred.

Also speaking to umpires in Australia they, as Haroon Lorgat said on the ABC and in the Melbourne Age (please see those interviews on the web ), believe that player behavior is better when DRS is in play as they have the ultimate recourse if they believe there has been an injustice.
That last sentence is telling. Not the part about player behavior being better (this is debatable), but about players having "the ultimate recourse if they believe there has been an injustice". 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

On A "great spell" By Morne Morkel

I have previously written about how the language used to describe T20 cricket is lazily borrowed from the language used to describe a Test Match. These give rise to the prospect of "mouthwatering battles" (Tendulkar v Warne in the first couple of IPL editions for example) among other things. Everything is borrowed whole and sole, without caveat, without an acknowledgment of the new context. Thus, Paul Collingwood plays an innings of 52 in 41 balls in which he gets dropped three times, but this innings is described as being "gutsy". If Steve Waugh played IPL, we would doubtless hear about how he's "ice cool" (or what icy metaphor is the flavor of the month about Waugh). But it is not mere laziness that I want to point to in this post.

In a tweet after today's IPL league game between Delhi and Kolkata, Harsha Bhogle said the following: "irfan turned it on at the end but i'm going with a great spell of bowling from morne morkel". 

Graeme Swann Shouldn't Be Playing Cricket

England off spinner Graeme Swann got away with what appeared to be a clear breach of the ICC's Code of Conduct at the start of England's tour of Sri Lanka. I recently found even more astounding comments from Swann in relation with that episode. This story in the Guardian quotes Swann saying that he  "wanted to kill" Dilruwan Pereira, the Sri Lankan batsman.