Saturday, September 08, 2007

A game of glorious certainties

So there you are, the game has been redefined for all of us innocents who believed that the game is unpredictable, that on a good day anything can happen, that one good spell or one good innings can turn a contest around. Cricket has just succumbed to the third and ultimate lie – statistics. A new statistical model called Score Wizard can predict the results of a cricket game – it claims a 78% success rate during the 2007 World Cup and has apparently been accurate in five out of the six games in the current Natwest one-day series between India and Pakistan. Here’s the story on this revolutionary redefinition of the game.

May be this is just what cricket needs. Take away the uncertainty of the result, and you can enjoy the game, the minor moments, the beauty of the contest (such as it is). English county cricket would love this invention.

Unfortunately, the model still has some uncertainties. Sacrilegious, isn’t it? Apparently, the model cannot account for “unpredictable noise” (what a delicious phrase!) like dropped catches, rain and a batsman getting out on a no-ball. That ensures that matches involving India and those played in England cannot come under the radar of the nifty model.

And horror of horrors, the model also has complaints about “unpredictable” players. Velamakanni, the co-founder of the company that created this model bemoans that the firm does not use the model to predict the scores of players like Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “We have a problem predicting their performance, but we do very well with Sachin (Tendulkar), Saurav (Ganguly) and (Rahul) Dravid,” he says. May be Pakistan will be banned from the game. And “unpredictable” players from other teams will probably be sent to statistics institutes so they can learn to lose this undesirable aspect of their game.

The cricketing world waits with bated breath – when will the official Score Wizard World Cup be be launched?

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