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An Excellent Article

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An Excellent Article published in this month's The Actuary magazine.

Batting on a statisticky wicket</font>
Jurie Nel puts forward a classification scheme for the consistency of cricket batsmen.

When a cricketer goes out to bat, his career statistics are shown on the television screen. The most important figure quoted is his average score, but nothing is indicated about his consistency. This information, however, should be of considerable interest to the viewer. In this article I shall explain why.

Tossing up</font>
The standard deviation is a good measure of consistency, but in itself it is not useful for comparing players of different abilities. If you averaged 100, for example, your standard deviation would naturally be higher than for someone who averaged 5. Therefore, we need to ‘normalise’ the standard deviation by dividing through by the average score: We calculated a consistency coefficient (CC) statistic for 200 international cricket players using data up to 14 February 2005. In recognition of the notion that bigger is better, we defined the CC as the inverse of the above ratio (so that more consistent players had a higher CC statistic) and we also introduced a slight variation in order to handle any not-out scores. We then allocated cricketers to different classes, both for one-day international (ODI) matches and for test matches, as shown in table 1 above. We then plotted 10 different players’ averages (y-axis) against their CCs (x-axis) – for both ODI and test cricket, as shown in figures 1 and 2.

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A declaration</font>
The ODI graph indicates that in one-day cricket, Herschelle Gibbs averages second-lowest of the ten players analysed, with very low consistency around his average. Seeing that he is inconsistent around his average of 35, if may be inferred that he is more likely to produce a score much higher than his average. So in this sense, his inconsistency could be considered a virtue! The above reasoning can also be applied to the selection of players with low averages. As a captain, I might find myself favouring a batsman who scored 10 on average, but with frequent low scores and occasional very high scores, over a batsman who scored consistently 10 every time he played.

Drawing stumps
The CC serves as an additional statistic by which to compare batsmen. In particular, it is very useful when used in conjunction with the average score. With the advances in cricket statistics shown on television screens, the CC may be appropriate for use in cricket broadcasts. It would definitely give cricket fans something else to discuss in postmatch debates in the pavilion.
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On April 21st, 2005 02:23 am (UTC), serioussam commented:
the actuary speaks! The charts make for an interesting conversation piece.
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On April 21st, 2005 04:24 am (UTC), pun23 replied:
You can start whenever u want!!
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On April 22nd, 2005 01:05 am (UTC), anand commented:
Amazing article, makes a lot of sense.
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On April 25th, 2005 02:27 am (UTC), pun23 replied:
That is why I put it here. Not many ppl read "The Actuary" magazine :D.
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On April 25th, 2005 09:51 am (UTC), anand replied:
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On April 22nd, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC), balaji_b commented:
Arite. As a start, Jurie Nel ?? South African?? I dont see anyone else insane enough to include both Gibbs and Smith as the world's premier batsmen. And again, Strauss, who recently murdered the Proteas in their den. But anyway, assuming the entire article was well-intended..........

The graph for test cricket - the big man's game - is interesting. Picks some leaders out of the pack, with a nice blend of consistency and a good avg. But.........

1. Andrew Strauss - Noob, hasn't played enuff matches to be compared with any one of the rest. Very talented, could prove to be the decisive factor - an English one for a change - come The Ashes. Waaaaaay too early to be analysing his stats.

2. Jacques Kallis - Weak bowling bully. I will take him over anyone else in my team if the opposition is WI, Zim or Bang. But hasn't made it count yet against the best team of his era. Until then, he remains just another good player.

3. Ricky Ponting - Did he score all those runs with a legal bat? Heh heh, assuming he did, he has a huge luxury over the rest of the field - never having to face McGrath, Warne, Gillespie and Brett Lee, easily the best attack in the world. So, it is very hard for me to accept he is the best. What happens when your own swords meet your own shields, and when both are proclaimed to be the best ?!?!

4. Adam Gilchrist - Same case as Ponting, but I'd think he would've been just as devastating a player. This man is an absolute Freak !!!

5. Brian Lara - Doesn't have the luxury of facing the worst attack in the world, instead has to play WITH them. Has a terrific record against the best team of his era. A very good average and consistency that he seems to have rediscovered towards the fag end of the last century.

6. Sachin Tendulkar - Although he doesnot figure in the elite part of the graph, he is too good a player to be missing a mention. The same graph, a few years earlier, would've projected him to be the best player in the planet I'd think, and by a huge distance to boot. His consistency - that distinguished him from all the other imposters - has taken a nosedive in the past few years.

Personally, I'd have to choose Brian Lara as the best player in the world, but Adam Gilchrist runs him close. And if someone picks an Allan Knott over Adam Gilchrist for the keeper's spot in their all-time test team, they need a brain transplant. Pronto.

As an aside, not picking Rahul Dravid, while comparing the worls' premier batsmen is appalling !!!
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On April 25th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC), pun23 replied:
If I add a mathematical statement : "10 random batsmen were picked and checked for consistency coefficients".
Now does the aticle make sense?
The aim of the article was to moot a consistency coefficient, not to pick top 10 batsmen!!
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On April 25th, 2005 11:33 am (UTC), balaji_b replied:
Aaah, random batsmen, my bad. But geez, you statisticians hunt in packs or what !!
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On April 26th, 2005 09:33 pm (UTC), pun23 replied:
Dont call me a statistician or an accountant. NEVER :). I am above all of them, like my friend Jurie Nel. We are Actuaries :)


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On April 27th, 2005 10:16 am (UTC), balaji_b replied:
Arite arite, now dont rub it in. We still run the world.
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On April 27th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC), pun23 replied:
run or ruin?? :)
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On May 4th, 2005 12:08 am (UTC), anand replied:
when you are running the world you have the luxury/liberty of ruining it too ;)! Geeks rule :D.

Btw I get your point when you get appalled when someone calls you a statistician or acountant, its like someone saying "oh! you mean youre in tech support" to a coder! Aaaargh! damn ignorance! ...........specially when youre running the world ;)
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