On Powerplays and the Duckworth-Lewis method

It’s been a couple of years since Powerplays were first introduced into one-day cricket, although they became standard only last year. While I was aware of the principle behind them, I’d never really delved into how they worked until this World Cup came along.

Now that I’ve looked into it, I can’t help but think that Powerplays affect the Duckworth-Lewis Method materially. As long as fielding restrictions were in force for the first 15 overs, the current version of Duckworth-Lewis made the best of a bad job. The essence of Duckworth-Lewis is a graceful degradation of resources.

Today, while watching the Australia-England, I saw something rare: the Powerplays selected by Ponting weren’t contiguous. And when that happens, bang goes the graceful degradation principle.

Anyone interested in suggesting modifications to the (already modified) Duckworth-Lewis Method?

10 thoughts on “On Powerplays and the Duckworth-Lewis method”

  1. Ah, this is an excellent point. I understand how DL comes into play and the implications, but I not sure I could propose modifications to the formula :)

  2. JP
    I believe there is a point of principle to be resolved before considering further modifications to the D/L method. Wishing to take fielding restrictions into account when making a D/L target, are we perhaps in search of perfect justice? And is this not a vain quest? There are many other factors that influence the result, like changes in the wicket or the weather.

    There is always an element of random injustice in sport. Yesterday for example, KP swept a ball to square leg, clearly destined to be a four. The umpire was slow to get out of the way, Koertzen being the least nimble as well as the most error-prone umpire on view in the ICCWC. The ball ricocheted to a fielder and a single was scored. Next ball Ian Bell was out, to a ball he should never have faced. See Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch’ for the essential cathartic role injustice plays in sport.

    D/L was first aired in an article in an OR journal. The professional formula – as distinct from the street version – is already so complex that you can’t apply it without a PC. Sooner or later, we’ll have to wait for the result of a game because the PC has crashed.

    Maybe we have gone far enough in separating the professional game from club cricket.

  3. David, not sure I agree completely. Yes we need to reduce the risk of random injustice, I too watched the Koertzen leg-in-way. [To be fair to him it must have hurt like blazes.]

    I will post separately on your last line, the separation of the professional game from club cricket.

  4. There are other factors that are not included in the Duckworth-Lewis algorithm. It appears to be based on global statistics and of course the shape of a ODI innings is different in every country and for every different start time. A short tropical day with dew at both ends calls for different strategies to a game played at a latitude that allows 18 hours of daylight. Day-night games add further variations.

    I’m wondering if there is enough data to have a Bayesian approach to the revised total? This would automatically take into account any changes in the playing conditions once enough data had been gathered.

    Bit difficult to work out on a pocket calculator while sheltering in a damp pavilion in your local village, I admit.

    I am a bit sceptical about the Powerplay in the first case. It is clearly an invention of cricket’s marketing geniuses to liven up the boring bit in the middle of a ODI innings. It has failed to achieve its aim and it has not demonstrated that it materially affects the result anyway.

  5. I’m still mulling over David’s question on separation between the amateur and professional games and the consequences thereof….. somehow I have to make sense of Malinga’s action (which looked more chuck-ey than Jeff Thomson’s ever did). The amateur in Malinga grew up playing tennis ball cricket (like most people from the subcontinent). He was able to bowl faster than his peers, getting his deliveries to fizz off the surface without bouncing into the next street.

    That’s one form of pro versus amateur difference. At the other extreme you have Rio Ferdinand saying it’s not fair, he can’t bully the refs in Europe….

    There’s a lot to think about.

  6. I find Dominic’s idea most intriguing, that we should harness probability theory to the result of incompleted matches. Where football has the penalty shoot out to resolve its deadlocks, we might have a dressing room debate between senior Wranglers to determine which result would command more credibility.
    May I steer the conversation to another area? One thing that really irritates me (as an ex bowler) is to see batsman move outside the line of the offstump as the ball seams or turns in, hide the bat behind the front pad and still be judged to be ‘playing a stroke’. I think playing a stroke should mean trying to hit the ball with the bat. Otherwise its out.
    What says the jury?

  7. I am biased. I watched Graham Gooch bat with his pads all day long while scoring 333 in an innings and 456 in the match maybe 15 years ago at Lord’s. And I thought that was the end of spin, when someone could offer his pads so often ahead of the bat, and get away with it. Hirwani didn’t know what hit him, he just faded away after that.

  8. Thank you Dominic. Certainly a candidate for the top ten catches of all time. Does anyone remember Johnny Dyson’s catch at third man? I can’t remember what year or who was the batsman. It was a stunner.

Let me know what you think

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