Thursday, 29 May 2014

Rain and the Women's County Championship

The poor weather over the second Bank Holiday weekend has again thrown into the spotlight some anomalies in the rules in the Women's County Championship, which have not really been ironed out following the 2012 season when Essex made it through to the then County Championship play-off final, having played only two games against Notts and Yorkshire.

The first issue is that cancelled games - ie games where there has been no play can be replayed - even if they have not been cancelled until both teams are at the ground and have hung around for five hours fruitlessly waiting for the wicket to dry out. Whereas abandoned games - ie any game that has started but has failed to finish (ie the side batting second has failed to bat 20 overs) cannot be replayed. I fail to understand the logic of this.

The second issue is that no points are awarded for a cancelled game - that I understand. However 5 points AND the bonus points are awarded for an abandoned game. If these were allowed to count towards the average number of points per game, which is the deciding factor for league positions, then a team's season could be scuppered. A win with full batting and bowling bonus points is 18 points (10, plus 4 and 4). The maximum a team could get for an abandoned game is 13 points, although full batting and bowling points are unlikely as one innings at least would be less than 20 overs. The simple solution, which has been applied is to ignore any points from abandoned games, but that begs the question the question why award them at all? All it does is make a complete mess of the league tables on the Play Cricket website - Sussex currently average 20 points per game apparently (for accurate tables see here).

The third issue is the shortening of games. The rules basically state that provided both teams bat 20 overs this constitutes a game. The scenario where this could occur almost happened on Sunday between Berks and Sussex. The pitch was wet, but the weather fine. The teams sat around waiting for the pitch to dry. Had it done so then they would have played a 20/20. This competition is the Women's County Championship not the Women's T20 trophy. In my opinion 50 over cricket and T20 cricket are very different beasts and should not be confused. I would suggest that 35 overs per side is the minimum that should constitute a game.

There is a fourth issue which arises from shortened games and that is the lack of opportunity to acquire bonus points, particularly bowling bonus points. A team is far less likely to get 9 wickets (needed for a full 4 points) in 20 overs than they are in 50 overs. They are therefore penalised for playing a shortened game.

And finally there is a fifth issue, again from a shortened game, which is the fact that if the game is started and it rains the side batting second has a huge advantage. Runs Per Over (RPO) is the crude calculation used to adjust the score that the side batting second must score to win in the limited number of overs available. A side batting first may score 200 in their 50 overs (4 RPO). If it rains at tea and the second innings is reduced to 20 overs they only have to score 81 to win in 20 overs with all their batsmen allowed to bat. It is a huge advantage. Duckworth Lewis is the answer, but it seems this is too complex. Perhaps a simpler solution would be to reduce the number of batsmen allowed to bat in the second innings along the lines of 8 if 20+ overs; 9 if 30+ overs; 10 if 40+ overs.

Let's hope the rest of the season is sunny!!



  1. I think most of these issues can probably be summed up as "cricket administrators don't like maths". I'm not sure any detailed discussion of these issues, or offers of solutions, would really be worth the time until the above statement no longer holds true (and I speak from experience).

    For your second point, my reading of the regs is that abandoned matches are only relevant as a tie-breaker for two teams equal on points at the end of the season. Admittedly this still makes it pointless to award five points each for attendance (rather like the points for a draw/tie in the Ashes), but it does at least make the bonus points relevant.

    Relevant? Yes, but not at all fair. The advantage lies hugely with the team batting second, given the difficulty of picking up wickets in a curtailed match. Take the Notts-Sussex game from the weekend. Notts' 248/5 meant 4 bonus points for Notts and 2 for Sussex. Sussex's 57/0, flooded out after 13 overs, gave another 4 to Sussex but none for Notts. I don't see how anyone could really argue that that would be a good reason to place Sussex higher in the table were the two teams to finish level.

    It may not matter. The scorecard for the match (, and indeed other abandoned matches, state that "Bonus points are not awarded in a 'no result' match Play Cricket altered 27 may 2014 Marion Collin". That's backed up by the maligned league table, which has the irrelevant 5 points each, but not the bonus points, although it is explicitly stated in the regs that an abandoned match yields "5 + bonus points". So who knows?

  2. See my comment on the previous blog entry, which covers this topic. Maybe, somehow the R&Rs explain the various scenarios but I've read them through twice and its certainly not at all clear.

    Weather and cricket are really crap bed-fellows. Its extremely difficult to devise a fair solution to shortened matches but I think the R&Rs could be a lot clearer.

  3. The R&Rs could definitely be clearer. I suppose we should probably accept that zealous quality control costs money that could be spent on cricketers instead. I'm not so sure we should accept the lack of a fair solution to shortened matches, given there's a fair(ish) one already in use across the cricketing world.

    As to your question on the previous post: my assumption, in the absence of any indication to the contrary, is that the bonus points work exactly as in a completed match. Both teams scored at over 4 runs per over, so that's 4 batting points each. Sussex took 5 wickets, so that's two bowling points, and Notts were wicketless, so no bowling points for them.

  4. I'm seeking some answers from the powers that be!!

  5. David, you may well be correct in your proposition and its not contrary to anything written in the rules but its also actually not explicitly written in the rules. The fairness falls apart a bit if Sussex had only received 1 over and scored 4 runs and lost no wickets - in which case Sussex would have got 4 bonus points and Notts none. I guess the 'doggy weather, win the toss and bat 2nd' maxim applies !

  6. Could it even be true that if Sussex faces one ball which was a wide and down comes the rain, run rate now 6/over and no batsman has scored a run (or is the run rate infinity - or not calculable - as no true ball has been bowled?). No wonder we don't like maths (or arithmetic really). Maximum batting points for Sussex? I'm putting up an almost impossible scenario here (suggested by someone else on the day) but you are left wondering if one day it'll happen.

    In fairness to the rule writers, time is great at finding fault with what you do, so rules need to be refined as we go. No need to lambaste those who started the ball rolling though - in this complex game you can't think of every eventuality.

    However, other side of the coin - just think of the nonsense NRR can provide and that's still popular with the powers that be.

    You can't please all the people - well you know how often...