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Duckworth, Lewis go in rewind mode

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 18:13 IST
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With the Duckworth-Lewis system completing its 10 years of existence, founders of the "ingenious" solution to interrupted one-day games recalled that it was a comment by a radio broadcaster that prompted them to work out a mathematical formula for deciding the outcomes of such matches.

It was on January 1, 1997 when Zimbabwe beat England by six runs, after the target had been revised, in an ODI at Harare when the very first ICC-sanctioned match applied the Duckworth-Lewis method.

And the formula, despite being debated off and on, is still very much in use after 10 years.

When New Zealand play Sri Lanka in the second ODI of their current series in Christchurch on Tuesday, the method would have entered its second decade in the top flight.

The system was devised by UK-based statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis and was formally adopted by the ICC in 2001, firstly on a trial basis, and from 2004 on a more permanent basis, being subject to three-yearly review.

"I recall hearing Christopher Martin-Jenkins on radio saying 'surely someone, somewhere could come up with something better' and I soon realised that it was a mathematical problem that required a mathematical solution," Duckworth said in a statement released by ICC on MOnday.

The ICC adopted this system for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1999 in England, although remarkably it was not necessary to implement it throughout the entire tournament.

The main impetus for the development of what became known as the Duckworth-Lewis method was the 1992 ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final fiasco when, after a short rain delay at the Sydney Cricket Ground, South Africa went from needing 22 runs to beat England from 13 balls to needing the same 22 runs, but from just one ball.

A good measure of the fairness of D/L system is the fact that the proportion of matches won by the team batting first is virtually the same (at 52 per cent) for uninterrupted and interrupted matches using the D-L method.

"It is very satisfying when watching matches that players generally accept revised targets now as fair, in contrast with the previous systems, and that we have made a significant contribution to the history and development of the game," Lewis said.

According to Bob Woolmer, former ICC High Performance Manager and now Pakistan's national coach, the Duckworth-Lewis method is the best that anyone had managed to come up with so far.

"Ever since the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 in Australia when South Africa were set 22 runs to win off 1 ball, I believe that the revised version of the Duckworth-Lewis method has been the fairest system yet for interrupted cricket matches," Woolmer said.

David Richardson, ICC's General Manager Cricket, said: "The D-L method has been adjusted and amended over time taking account of the changing scoring trends in ODI cricket. The lack of a serious controversy surrounding the result of a rain-curtailed match is indicative of the method's proficiency.

"No one likes it when the result of a game has to be settled by the mathematicians. Cricket, by its nature, is unpredictable and fortunes can fluctuate extravagantly during the course of a match.

"However, if one is forced to find an answer to the question 'who is winning' at a particular time during a match, the D-L method gives you as fair a method of doing so as you are likely to get," Richardson said.

Although the great majority of these have been because of rain or bad light, D-L has also been used for stoppages due to 14 cases of floodlight failure, three of crowd disturbances, and one each for sandstorm (Rawalpindi), snow (Durham) and sun (Derby).

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