Embedded relationship between cricket, data, records still relevant as ever

Embedded relationship between cricket, data, records still relevant as ever
England’s Jonny Bairstow celebrates his century on Day 5 of the fifth cricket Test match between England and India at Edgbaston, Birmingham in central England on July 5, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 07 July 2022

Embedded relationship between cricket, data, records still relevant as ever

Embedded relationship between cricket, data, records still relevant as ever

Cricket and statistics go hand in hand. As a boy, I remember recording, in a formal scorebook, every ball bowled, run scored, and wicket taken during the professional matches I watched in person.

Now, I ask myself, why did I do that? Even more so, why do people still do this, given the multitude of information and data which now exists?

One potential answer is that it makes a connection with the match and the individuals in it. Secondly, it creates a personal and permanent written record, something to look back on as a series of memories. And thirdly, it creates one’s own data base, however partial.

All of this makes cricket quite different from other sports.

The outcome of a football match is determined only in terms of the number of goals scored, rugby by the number of points. In cricket, each ball bowled is a discreet, but connected, event, its recording essential to the outcome of the match.

If a boundary is recorded against the bowler, but not in favor of the batter, the scorebook will not balance. If this error is repeated too many times, the final score will be imbalanced and corrective measures required that may prove to be controversial. Such problems do not occur in professional cricket, with its professional scorers and electronic checks and balances.

The recording of the outcome of every ball gives rise to rich data sets which are mined for nuggets of information. These used to center on averages – the average number of runs scored by batters per completed innings, the average number of runs taken by bowlers to secure a wicket. Many an argument has focused on the relative merits of which player out of several with similar averages was the best.

Averages fail to consider the circumstances in which the runs were scored, or wickets taken. Did the player benefit from home pitches that were favorable to his or her strengths? Was the player someone who played for the team rather than him or herself?

Some statistics do not lie. There is little dispute that Sir Donald Bradman was the greatest wielder of a cricket bat in the history of the game. In 80 Test match innings, he averaged 99.94 runs falling short of averaging 100 by the slimmest of margins. In his final innings, needing four runs to reach this milestone, Bradman was bowled second ball for naught.

The potential errors which may creep into scorebooks, mentioned above, may well have existed during Bradman’s career. Indeed, cricket historians have pored over the records of Bradman’s batting and have identified possible misclassifications of runs scored by him to others. However, no one seems to have the appetite to amend Bradman’s average, based on a re-scoring of old records. As it stands, his average is between 38 and 41 runs higher than the 10 next best performers, only one of whom is playing today.

The bowler who has taken the most wickets in men’s Test cricket is the Sri Lankan, Muttiah Muralitharan, who amassed 800 between 1992 and 2010. His record is not without controversy because of accusations of an illegal bowling action. This is something that rankles, especially with Australians, who regard Shane Warne, with his 708 wickets, as a better bowler. These debates will continue, without resolution.

Cricket, because of its self-contained units of play, such as over, batter innings, and team innings, lends itself to assessments of comparative performance and the establishment of records.

One such record focusses on the highest number of runs scored in one over. In professional cricket, the first time that six sixes were hit off a six ball over was achieved by the great West Indian all-rounder, Sir Garfield Sobers. This was in 1968 in a match between Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan. Since then, the feat has been achieved a further eight times, but only three times in international matches – two in T20 matches and one in a one-day match. The feat has never been achieved in a Test match.

However, the rearranged Test match between England and India, which finished on Tuesday, ending in an exhilarating victory for England, witnessed the record number of runs scored in an over – 35. The England pace-bowler, Stuart Broad, having just celebrated becoming only the sixth bowler to take 550 Test match wickets, conceded 23 off legitimate deliveries, plus five from a wide and seven from a no-ball. Broad had also been the bowler who delivered the over which was hit for six sixes in a T20 international in 2007.

Cricket throws up oddities and coincidences of this nature on a regular basis. These provide the fodder for quizzes and insightful additions to the narrative generated by match-day commentators on radio and television.

Over the last 20 years, matters have become more serious. Data is now available from the various electronic devices used to record the details of every ball bowled in top-level cricket around the world. Ball-tracking technology generates data that establishes ball speed, its release and bounce point, how much it deviates off the pitch, the height that it passes or hits the stumps, the line that it takes in the air, and how much it swings.

These statistics have spawned a new breed of cricket analyst and a level of analysis about individual players, grounds, and teams, which allows match strategies to be developed of a hitherto unachievable breadth and depth.

Recently, an opening into this behind-the-scenes world has been provided by two of its early devotees. In their book, “Hitting Against the Spin: How Cricket Really Works,” Nathan Leamon and Ben Jones unveil insights into the modern analytical techniques they and others have used in developing team and individual strategies at international level.

There are sceptics of this approach who argue that mentality and technique are paramount. England’s new cavalier attitude supports that view, although data insights are unlikely to have been jettisoned completely.

What is certain is that the use of data in cricket has changed significantly since I recorded matches in my boyhood scorebooks.


Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons
Updated 17 sec ago

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons
  • Falcon Arena and Falcon District will feature activities for gaming enthusiasts

RIYADH: Gamers8 has announced that Team Falcons, Saudi Arabia’s biggest esports outfit, will have its own dedicated space at the Riyadh event until the end of the season.

Fresh from a second-place finish in “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege,” Team Falcons are now set for more acknowledgment by having two dedicated areas at the event, which runs daily at Boulevard Riyadh City until Sept. 8.

The first area is the Falcon Arena, which features gaming tournaments, meet-and-greet activities with influencers and content creators, as well as a live cooking show. The second area, the Falcon District, features merchandise, a gaming PC center, a museum that showcases the team’s accomplishments, an academy titled “Learn to be a PRO,” as well as a streaming area.

Mosaad Al-Dossary, FIFA eWorld Cup winner and CEO of Team Falcons, said: “Team Falcons are delighted to play such a distinguished role in the unprecedented success of Gamers8. It has been an incredible season at Boulevard Riyadh City so far, packed with outstanding esports play — and not least from Team Falcons.

“The addition of the Falcon Arena and Falcon District to the plethora of entertainment activities at Gamers8 is certain to encourage those who have yet to attend the event, as well as usher back those who want more. The Saudi Esports Federation is responsible for nurturing elite gaming athletes and developing the gaming community and industry in Saudi Arabia, and Team Falcons is both honored and thrilled to be part of this latest initiative in doing so. We look forward to seeing everyone.”

Both the Falcon Arena and Falcon District are open daily from 6 p.m. until midnight.


Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
Updated 17 min 27 sec ago

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
  • Dutch center-half likely to start on the bench again with Dan Burn facing former club Brighton at the Amex Stadium

NEWCASTLE: Star summer signing Sven Botman’s Newcastle United development will not be rushed, insists head coach Eddie Howe.

The Netherlands youth international has so far been the Magpies’ stand-out signing of the summer, having arrived on a $36-million deal from Lille on July 1.

Howe, though, opted not to hand the 22-year-old his full debut on the opening day against Nottingham Forest, instead retaining his central defensive partnership from last season, Dan Burn and Fabian Schar.

Ajax academy graduate Botman did get his first taste of Premier League action off the bench, however, as a 90th-minute sub.

“The more training time we can get into Sven, the better,” Howe said.

“But every situation is very unique. You can never blueprint because that changes within seconds sometimes.

“The more training, the more he gets to understand how we want him to play and his teammates around him will serve him very well.

“I’ve been very pleased with him in pre-season. Him not playing (against Forest) wasn’t a reflection on his performances, he’s been excellent.

“As I said after the game, it was about keeping continuity in our backline that performed very well during the back end of last season.

“Sven’s got a huge part to play.”

The Magpies head to Brighton and Hove Albion today, looking to make it two top-flight wins out of two.

They face a side, though, who recorded their first win at Old Trafford against Manchester United, and who have one of the most respected managers in the English game, Graham Potter.

“Brighton are a very unique team. When you play them, you have a huge challenge on your hands,” Howe said.

“Tactically, I think they’re excellent — Graham (Potter) has done an amazing job there and it’s well documented how innovative and forward-thinking he is.

“Watching the game against Manchester United was a really interesting one from a tactical viewpoint so we’re going to be challenged.

“Every game is different in the Premier League but this one is a big challenge and we’re going to need to respond to it. It’s very different to Nottingham Forest — we’re away but we have prepared for Brighton and hope we can impose our style on them.”

One of Newcastle’s stand-out players from last term started 2021/22 as a Seagulls’ player.

Center-half Burn was a revelation for Howe after making the January switch north — and the head coach is expecting more of the same at the Amex Stadium this afternoon.

He said: “Dan’s an incredible professional. He’s been outstanding for us since he signed for the football club.

“I know it will be a big day for him and probably an emotional day in some ways, going back to a club that he’s performed very well at and consistently performing at a high level.

“I’m sure he’ll get a good reception and welcome for everything he gave Brighton.

“He has been a real presence in the training ground and a very calming influence. He’s got good experiences in the game and has never had it easy.

“He’s had to graft to get into the position he’s in now and he’s not prepared to let that go easily. He’s very popular in the dressing room and the lads look up to him.”


Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
Updated 13 August 2022

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
  • Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead
  • Despite missing the cut, Scheffler and McIlroy, at least, get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it

MEMPHIS, Tennessee: J.J. Spaun hopes he’s only getting started on the road to the FedEx Cup finale. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will have to wait another week.

As for Jason Day, his season is over.

Spaun made a late birdie for a 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead Friday in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the opening event in the PGA Tour postseason that no longer has three of its biggest stars for the weekend at the TPC Southwind.

Scheffler, the Masters champion and No. 1 player for the last five months, never quite recovered from what he could only describe as an “out-of-body experience” with his putting in the first round. He had birdie chances on two of the last three holes he couldn’t convert and his 68 was one shot short of making the weekend.

“Obviously, it’s really frustrating coming into the playoffs,” Scheffler said. “I was practicing really hard at home, actually playing really good, and I showed up and had the worst putting day ever. Golf smacks you in the face sometimes.”

McIlroy went from rough to gallery to fringe to bogey on his last hole for a 69 for only his second missed cut of the year. Spieth’s hopes of playing the weekend ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 14th that led to a 74.

At least they get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it.

Day opened with a 65 and was hopeful of a big finish to advance into the top 70 who made it to the next playoff event. Instead, the former world No. 1 dropped five shots over the last eight holes, shot 74 and missed the cut by one shot.

Day was among 31 players who started outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and missed the cut, meaning their season is over.

Rickie Fowler, who came in at No. 125, ended the back nine (double bogey) and front nine (bogey) poorly and shot 71. He was tied for 33rd, around for two more days but needing to contend to advance.

Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead.

He was one shot ahead of Sepp Straka, who birdied his last three holes for a 66, and Troy Merritt, who had a 65. Merritt started at No. 64 in the standings, so this was just what he needed to make sure he would be moving on.

With a clear sky, hot sun and a little more wind, Spaun was as proud of his 67 on Friday as his 64 the day before. Mostly, he feels his game his coming around after going into a lull following his first PGA Tour title at the Valero Texas Open in early April.

“It’s so hard to be consistently good at the highest level. Some guys that do it like that, like Tiger and McIlroy and all those guys. It’s just insane how good they are for so long,” Spaun said. “I did it for a few months and then kind of fell off, but here I am kind of making my way back.”

Straka knows the feeling. He had not made it to the weekend since the Memorial in early June. And then he opened with rounds of 64-66.

“Hadn’t played great coming into this week. Missed a bunch of cuts coming in,” Straka said (in his case, “a bunch” would be six in a row). “But that’s golf. You’re going to have the ebbs and flows and just kind go with it.”

And off he went, especially at the end, when he finished with three straight birdies to get to 10 under.

Tony Finau, coming off two straight victories, had his 11th consecutive round at 68 or lower dating to the final round of the British Open. His 68 on Friday left him three behind.

Spaun didn’t feel as though he had much of a lead — one shot, not to mention 15 players within four shots of the lead and 36 holes still to play.

“It’s anyone’s weekend, and it’s going to mine,” he said playfully.

The first part for so many players was getting to the weekend, and two players who seized on the opportunity were Ryan Palmer and Lucas Glover.

Palmer is at No. 110 in the FedEx Cup, shot 67 and joined Finau, British Open champion Cam Smith (65) and others at 8-under 132.

Glover is No. 121. Even with a bogey on his final hole, his 68 put him four shots out of the lead.


Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
Updated 13 August 2022

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
  • After Friday’s display Popovici will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest

ROME: David Popovici continued his dream summer of swimming on Friday by easing into the 100 meters freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships with a new European record of 46.98 seconds, while world champion Nicolo Martinenghi won the 100m breaststroke.

Teen sensation Popovici looked in fine form earlier on Friday when he easily won his heat and delighted fans by finishing over a second ahead of Italian Lorenzo Zazzeri.

Only two other swimmers managed to dip under 48sec, Kristof Milak and Alessandro Miressi in the other semis, but both were some way off 17-year-old Romanian Popovici.

“It’s a fine route to the final and a step toward the right direction. It feels normal for me to go step-by-step and keep improving my time,” said Popovici.

Popovici, who in June became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at the World Championships in nearly 50 years, will now compete in Saturday’s final.

After Friday’s display he will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest.

Martinenghi was a double gold winner at the Budapest worlds and got the home crowd roaring in Rome with a time of 58.26sec in his final, beating countryman Federico Poggio by 0.72sec.

Andrius Sidlauskas took the bronze for Lithuania.

“This victory means a lot to me. This season has been a very long one and I’m not in my best shape, but it was important to continue winning,” Martinenghi said.

The 23-year-old’s win was one of four golds for Italy in Friday’s evening session at the Foro Italico.

Margherita Panziera won the 200m backstroke, Thomas Ceccon claimed the honors in the 50m butterfly and Simona Quadarella won European gold in the 800m freestyle for the third straight time.

However, the Italians finished second in the 4x100m medley relay, leading for most of the way only to finish nearly two seconds behind the Netherlands and settling for silver.

Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina followed up on her artistic swimming team technical gold by winning the solo technical discipline, pipping local hope Linda Cerutti in the final moments.

Also double gold winner at the recent worlds, Fiedina was the last to take to the pool and won over the judges to earn a score of 92.6394, 1.7555 points ahead of Cerutti who had been leading since finishing her routine as fifth of 21 participants.

“I really gave everything I could at this moment. This is my best performance in Technical Solo this year, for sure,” said the champion.

Giorgio Minisini won the European championships’ inaugural men’s edition of the solo technical with a score of 85.7033, the Italian finishing over six points ahead of Spain’s Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto.


‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
Updated 13 August 2022

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
  • The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus

BERLIN: Eighteen-year-old Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens scored one and created another as Borussia Dortmund came back to defeat Freiburg 3-1 on Friday with all their goals coming in the last 13 minutes of the game.

With the game drifting toward defeat, Dortmund were again able to rely on their young brigade, with Bynoe-Gittens and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko scoring two quick goals to see the visitors pick up a valuable three points in their quest for a sixth Bundesliga title.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic lauded his side’s depth and praised “game-changer” Bynoe-Gittens.

“With him, it’s pretty simple — he’s got the skills to decide games,” said Terzic.

“He’s a game-changer and (I told him when he came on) I wanted to see that from him.

“We fought back, scored three goals through three substitutes and showed how good the squad is.”

The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus.

Reus teed up Modeste to run into the left side of the penalty box in the 20th minute, forcing Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken into a save.

Modeste also had a chance right in front in the 32nd minute after superb one touch football from Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerreiro, but the Portuguese’s cross was inches too high.

As if stunned into action, Freiburg then flipped a switch, building pressure on a suddenly shaky Dortmund defense.

Roland Sallai won a free kick on the edge of the box with 33 minutes played.

Dead-ball specialist Vincenzo Grifo stepped up to force a fingertip save from Gregor Kobel in goal.

Freiburg took the lead minutes later, when former Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter found Michael Gregoritsch who deftly drifted a header over Kobel and into the top right corner of the goal.

Terzic turned to youth halfway through the second half, bringing on Bynoe-Gittens and Moukoko to introduce some potency to Dortmund’s attack.

Known more for his dribbling and assists, the Englishman equalized with a stunning strike from outside the box.

While his shot was helped by a poor attempted save from Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken, the goal spurred Bynoe-Gittens and Dortmund into action

The former Manchester City academy player had a chance to put his side in front after 82 minutes, but was unable to control a sharp Marius Wolf pass with the goal begging.

He then set up Dortmund’s second just a minute later when he slalomed past several Freiburg defenders on the edge of the area before delivering a no-look pass to Julian Brandt.

Brandt, who had also been brought on by Terzic in the second half, found Moukoko in the box, with the teenager whipping in from close range.

Wolf, another who was subbed on in the second half, then put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, striking powerfully across goalkeeper Flekken and into the bottom left corner of the net.

The game was manager Terzic’s ninth win in a row in charge of Dortmund, breaking a record set by former mentor Juergen Klopp a decade ago.

The loss continues a poor run of home form for Freiburg recently, with the Breisgauer now conceding 16 goals in their last six games at Europa Park Stadium.

Despite the loss, Freiburg manager Christian Streich said he was impressed by his side’s “unlucky” performance.

“We played a good game, I’m satisfied,” he said.

“Ultimately we lost, it’s a shame... but it doesn’t achieve anything to think we were unlucky to lose the game.”