Monday, March 19, 2007

Batting first

I think we are far enough into to the tournament to begin looking at the “Simon Wilde Thesis”. The Sunday Times cricket correspondent argues that the side batting second should expect a greater chance of victory:

"Figures show 57% of all one-day internationals are won by the team batting second, and the figure is higher in matches in the West Indies."

So let’s test the hypothesis. So far, I count 11 completed matches. The full list is as follows:

1. West Indies beat Pakistan
2. Australia beat Scotland
3. Canada lost to Kenya
4. Sri Lanka beat Bermuda
5. Ireland tied with Zimbabwe
6. England lost to New Zealand
7. South Africa beat Holland
8. India lost to Bangladesh
9. Pakistan lost to Ireland
10. Australia beat Holland
11. England beat Canada

From the above, the side batting first has won six games, the chasing team has won four games and one match has been tied. 60% of the total victories has been won by the side batting first – which is a result which flatly contradicts Wilde’s thesis.

However, considering the large number of minnows in this data-set, we cannot hope to glean much useful information for aiding our predictions over Big Fish matches. I shall, therefore, refine the analysis a little more. So, let me eliminate all those games involving minnows and the keep only intra-Big Fish matches and the upsets. Preserving, in the above list, numbers (1), (6), (8) and (9), with the following additional warm-up matches (in accordance with the above criteria):

a. New Zealand lost to Bangladesh
b. West Indies lost to India
c. South Africa lost to Pakistan
d. New Zealand beat Sri Lanka
e. England lost to Australia

Of this nine, only twice has a side batting first won. 78% of the time chasing sides win. Far greater than the originally percentage predicted by the theory, and a dramatic departure from the previous conclusion.

I’m not sure whether my cleaning of the data has been legitimate, but if these results are prescient, it may create a horribly predictable World Cup. No one really wants the Final to be determined by the toss of a coin. I hate it when Simon Bloody Wilde is right.

Nevertheless, although I will revisit this issue in the future, I do not believe there to be enough results to produce meaningful statistics. A conclusion on the Wildean Hypothesis will remain on hold until I have seen more Big Fish on Big Fish action.

1 comment:

Roberto said...

Big Fish on Big Fish action? That's just not cricket!