Saturday, 8 June 2013

Net Run Rate strikes again

Again in a big tournament, where net run rate is quite likely to be called on to separate teams, it has been exposed as an insufficient way to look at difference in performance. The West Indies vs Pakistan match was very close. When Mohammed Irfan dismissed Sunil Narine (only a couple of balls before the match was over) the game could have gone either way. West Indies were certainly favourites at that point, but they were not in a commanding position.

However they ended up winning with a commanding difference on net run rate. The match goes down as Pakistan scoring 170 in 50 overs and West Indies scoring 171 in 40.4 overs, giving West Indies a net run rate of +0.68.

+/- 0.68 is the same as a team scoring 200 and then restricting their opposition to 166. I'm not sure that these two results deserve to be weighed similarly. It is effectively a team batting first and scoring 34 runs more than their opponents. Instead I'd suggest that a better system needs to be used.

One possible suggestion is to use a modified version of Duckworth-Lewis. Duckworth-Lewis tells us how many resources a team had left. I don't have access to the professional version of Duckworth_Lewis, but using my modified version of their amateur system I found that West Indies were on track for 193. If we were to give West Indies +23 and Pakistan -23 it would make more sense to me.

There is still an issue with a blow-out, where (for example) a team can win by a huge margin, and therefore be uncatchable, but this encourages teams to go for it, and means that the games have something riding on them right down to the end. There are probably other problems, particularly with rain affected matches, but I think taking into account wickets and overs is better than just looking at overs used.

I'm sure that Pakistan fans will agree with me at the moment, particularly if they miss out on the semi-finals on net run rate by a very small margin.

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