Rediff Logo find
MRF banner
June 27, 1998


Clinic Banner

send this story to a friend

Rain ruins play -- again!

Prem Panicker

So that makes three games, on the trot, that have been called off due to rain, in course of the ongoing Akai Singer Nidahas triangular ODI series now on in Sri Lanka.

Or, to be more accurate, two full games and a partial one. But then, even the India-New Zealand game of June 23, abandoned midway through the second innings, does not count as a 'game' as per the prevailing guidelines, does it?

I guess someone, somewhere, knew what he was doing when he scheduled a series such as this smack-dab in the middle of the south west monsoon -- but if there is a method underlying that madness, it, quite frankly, defeats me.

Last heard from, the authorities were considering shifting Monday's (June 29) game, India versus New Zealand, from Galle (which, on today's evidence, seems more suitable just now to water sports), to Colombo, and playing it either at the Sinhalese Sports Club, or the Premadasa Stadium.

It all produces a most interesting situation. As of now, India has 4 points (one win, two abandoned games). Sri Lanka, similarly, has four points. And New Zealand has two.

There are four games remaining, and India features in three of them, twice against New Zealand. The Kiwis, too, have three games coming up, while hosts Sri Lanka have just two. In other words, while India and New Zealand will play for a maximum of 6 points apiece, the hosts have just 4 points due, max.

It all makes for something to do on a rainy day -- the game of 'what if'.

Meanwhile, it also gives us leisure to look around, at various issues that have cropped up in recent times.

My mailbox inevitably produces items of much interest. And one of the most intriguing came in a letter from Rediff regular Desikan Parthasarathy.

He was examining the trend of teams bowling first dawdling, not completing the quota of overs in time.

His point is that reducing the number of overs for the team batting second is not really much of a deterrent. For one thing, instances are not uncommon of teams going three, four overs, maybe more, short in regulation time, but being docked just one or two overs.

Rather interestingly, the recent meeting of the ICC took note of what it felt was an emerging concern. Namely, the tendency of batsmen to take their own time to get to the crease and settle down to strike, thus stretching out time and pushing the fielding side's over-rate further back.

Terming this as despicable gamesmanship, the ICC has decided to put in place an experimental rule, for introduction in the county circuit for starters, whereby the time available to batsmen to come in at the fall of a wicket has been cut down to two.

Back however to Desikan's grouse, which is that docking an over or two for slow bowling rate is not a sufficient enough deterrent. His suggestion? That the same also should be applicable to field restrictions. Thus, if a team bowls two short, say, then field restrictions should be removed after 13 overs, in the second innings.

Interesting thought, actually. Keeping the restrictions in place is of benefit to the batting side. In course of a full game of 50 overs, the equation is 15 overs of restrictions. Thus, if the side batting second is given only 48 overs because of its own tardiness, the field restrictions over 15 overs actually work out to its advantage.

Something for the ICC's technical committee to mull over, I would think. What say?

In fact, the more I think of it, the more I suspect it is about time for the cricket diary -- admittedly an irregular feature, but one that will become a bi-weekly starting now -- to focus on reader's mail. For one thing, there is so very much of it, almost all of them of considerable interest. And for another, it is, we believe, interaction between the readers and the site that adds a further edge to the online content.

Mail, lately, has been dominated by the Clarke's Curve, and a criticism I made of it while analysing the India-New Zealand game of June 23.

Pretty much every single person who mailed has gone to considerable pains to dig out the Clarke's Curve norms from Cricinfo and pass it on to me, for reference. For which, much thanks -- though Anant Gaundalkar had already given me a comprehensive copy.

Most of you, who have written in, have made just the one point: that as per the provisions enshrined therein, India did not have to score 147 to have won that game. The argument is that what happened on the day is a Type 6 shortage, and that as per existing guidelines, India would have won the game.

There are just a couple of small points that don't jell with that assessment. The first is, as it stands, we don't have a game -- having fallen four balls short of the minimum requisite figure. The only way there could have been a game -- and it is only when we have a game that all computations come into play -- was if rain had stopped long enough for at least four balls to be bowled. And had that happened, it becomes Type 5, not Type 6. And India loses.

The other, and to my mind more important, point is that somewhere along the line, we seem to be forgetting that this is not a debate about what I wrote, but rather a debate about an existing situation. And the situation is simply this -- that when the players returned to the pavilion, the umpires consulted with the third umpire and match referee. And, subsequently, umpire K T Francis, speaking on behalf of all four of them, announced that if the game is abandoned at the 25-overs-completed stage, India will be declared the loser if its score at that point did not exceed 147.

That was what was discussed in my piece -- and it is not based on provisions as written, but on the umpires' interpretation thereof.

And it is this announcement, this interpretation, this situation that I find ridiculous.

It may not matter much, in context of this tournament which is, after all, just one more ODI extravaganza. But we are heading into the home stretch as far as the World Cup is concerned, it is to be played in the early part of the English 'summer', and sure as shooting, rain is going to play a part in the competition.

Somewhere along the way, a crucial game could be affected -- and that will cause a furore. Which is why I argued that maybe the time to examine the equations concerning stoppage of play would be now, rather than later.

I mean, why does everything have to be reactive, rather than -- to use Lal Kishinchand Advani's pet phrase -- pro-active? The last time the rain rules hit the headlines was in 1992 -- after the fiasco of the South Africa-England semifinal of the World Cup that year (speaking of which, many thanks to all who wrote in, correcting the error in my report wherein I had mentioned Pakistan, rather than England, as the Proteas' opponents; and my apologies for the error).

Do we really need another blunder, another instance of daylight robbery, before examining this one?

What, then, can be done to bring the rules more in line with the principles of natural justice?

I don't claim to have the answers -- mainly because figures, computations of any kind, have always given me a headache. In college, 'Statistics' on my class schedule always put a smile on my face -- because that was the class I could bunk in order to find time to be with my girlfriend.

But again, my mailbox provides one possible answer. From Rajarshi Gupta, a 1st Year Graduate Student of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

This is his take on the subject:

"Let us assume that Mr Clarke has done a good and scientific job of calculating the curve, by giving proper weightage to the fact that it is easier to chase runs over a shorter number of overs. We will use his hard work (and the ICC's faith in him) as the basis for our amended scheme.

Suppose that the rain interruption occurs during the first innings, or during lunch. We then simply use Clarke's Curve and with its aid, figure out how much Team B has to score in its own turn to bat, and in how many overs.

The amendment takes effect only if the rain interruption happens in the second innings. We calculate as follows:

Say team A has scored x runs in p1 overs, at a rate of r1 runs/over in its completed innings. Assume, further, that Team B has scored y runs in p2 overs, at a rate of r2 runs/over at the point when rain interrupts. Further, assume we lose p3 overs due to rain, which leaves us with p4 (50-p2-p3) overs to bowl.

The amendment I would propose is that until the rain interruption, it would suffice if Team B is scoring at the mandatory required run rate calculated at the start of the innings.

Only for the period after the interruption will Clarke's rate come into play.

So we calculate team B's run differential (R) at the 
time of rain as:
= (# of runs scored) - (# of runs required)
= (# of overs X run rate) - (# of overs X reqd rate)
= (p2 X r2) - (p2 X r1)
Obviously this value R is rounded to the nearest integer, and may be positive or negative.

Next we use Clarke's Curve to see how many runs Team B needed to score in p4 (remaining) overs, to beat Team A's score of x in p1 overs.

We subtract the run differential R from this figure, and that will be the required target from there on.

An example, by way of clarification:

Say team A scored 249 runs in 50 overs. Team B thus needs 250 runs in 50 overs (at the rate of 5.00) at the start of the second innings.

Say, further, that it starts raining after over number 30, at which point Team B has scored 159 runs at 5.30/over. Say 10 overs are lost due to rain.

Team B's run differential, thus, is 
= (30 X 5.30) - (30 X 5.00)
= 159 - 150
= 9 runs
With 10 overs lost, we have only 10 overs remaining. We now use Clarke's Curve to see how much Team B needs, if they could only bat 10 overs. Suppose this number is 65 @ 6.50 per over.

Team B's requirement now is 
= 65 - Run Differenetial
= 65 - 9
= 56 runs in 10 overs
This to my mind is fair, because it does not penalise Team B for the way it played its innings before the rain interruption -- which, after all, was not its fault."

So much from Rajarshi -- it's over to you for analysis, comment, refinement, whatever.

One last item on the agenda, and I am done with cricket diary for this week.

Again, it has its genesis in my mailbox. Where I find that several well-intentioned readers have cut-pasted, and forwarded, certain comments and criticisms about me that they found on a certain newsgroup.

This -- both criticism, and its being forwarded to me -- is nothing new. Thus, I invariably get multiple copies of pretty much every single thing that is posted about me up there, further inflating my already bulging mailbox.

The sole difference, this time, is a demand by four seperate regulars that I owe it to myself, to Rediff, and to the regular readers of our site, to answer those posts. These demands, what is more, have been made with heat, with a certain amount of passion.

I have individually answered the people who mailed, but since each of my answers appears to have provoked the recepients to reply, thus extending a debate I find time-consuming, and rather tedious, I'll answer it here, once and for all.

Frankly, I have no intention of going to the newsgroup(s) in question to respond to the various comments/criticisms.

And no, that attitude does not -- as one reader suggested -- stem from arrogance. If that were the case, then I needn't answer the mails I get here, either -- it certainly forms no part of my job definition, I do not get paid a single extra penny for responding, at considerable length, to an average of around 50-60 letters a day. I do so -- as far as time permits -- because politeness is one of the values I hold, and prize.

But postings on newsgroups are something else again. While I like newsgroups -- and not just the ones relating to cricket either -- for the vibrancy of the discussions contained therein, I do not intend to join in, especially where the discussions concern me.

The reason is very simple. Every article published in the Sports section of Rediff contains, at the end, a mail link. A reader, having read what has been said, by me or whoever, has merely to click on that link to say his piece, to express his views, pro or con, with the surety that those views will reach me.

Point being, if the idea is to debate, discuss, or even criticise, then we have made it ridiculously easy to do so.

That, however, is not the case here. X reads something on our site. Bypasses the mail link. And heads off to his favourite newsgroup to wax critical, or sarcastic, or both together, as the mood takes him.

Fine, no complaints. But I do not believe I need to be part of that, to respond. Because the impression I get is that X is not interested in conveying his views to me -- but rather, in racing off to a public platform and going 'hey, guys, lookit, I found a mistake, I am smarter than that stupid journo type'.

Cool beans, X is as welcome to his jollies as anyone else -- but I don't see where I come into all this, guys, so I would be obliged if we could end this particular discussion right here. Meanwhile, mail received here, containing ideas, suggestions, whatever, will continue to be featured in Cricket Diary -- which, by the middle of next month, will increase frequency to thrice a week.

Thanks much, instalment two of the diary will be with you on Wednesday, July 1.

A postscript: We at Rediff are looking for people around the world, who would like to contribute articles on their favourite sports and games. Will those interested kindly write in, to the address below? Thanks bunches!

Mail Prem Panicker