Dr Seamus Hogan Dr Seamus Hogan CREDIT: University of Canterbury

UC expert giving public lecture on how economics helps cricket teams

Sunday 28 April 2013, 1:26PM
By University of Canterbury

A University of Canterbury (UC) economics expert is giving a public lecture next week on how economics can help cricket teams.

In the lecture, UC economics and finance lecturer Dr Seamus Hogan will ask what if economics could help cricket teams win matches and what if teams employed economists in addition to their psychologists, conditioning coaches and physiotherapists.

``Why is it that New Zealand traditionally punches above its weight in the one day international (ODI) format of the game? Why has the batting powerplay had so little effect on team ODI scores on average? And how is economics remotely related to cricket anyway?’’ Dr Hogan asks.

``To consider the first of these questions, we have used techniques from economics to decompose how well batsmen do into how much raw talent the batsmen have and their strategic nous in knowing how best to utilise that talent in choosing their level of aggression. New Zealand batsmen have been very good in their strategic awareness.

“Sports teams are increasingly using detailed statistical analysis to help give them an advantage over their opposition. In contrast, the economics of sport mostly focuses on sport as a business rather than on-field strategy. However, one-day-international cricket is a natural subject for the application of economics reasoning and how this reasoning can be a useful tool both for helping teams think about strategy and for informing spectators about the state of a game as it’s played out,’’ Dr Hogan says.

As a result of Dr Hogan’s research with former doctoral student, Scott Brooker, Sky sport this summer has provided an answer to the `who’s winning at the moment’ question.

In the one day internationals and Twenty20 games shown on Sky sport this summer, statistical information provided answers from the UC-devised WASP—the `winning and score predictor’.

In the first innings, WASP gave a predicted score. In the second innings, it gave a probability of the batting team winning the match.

UC research undertaken by honours student Marcus Downs and supervised by Dr Hogan used the WASP to look at the importance of fielding in 122 ODI games played between the top eight cricketing nations between February 2011 and July 2012, including the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

``We found that in one day cricket, at least, fielding was not as vital as batting or bowling. Good bowling can contribute about three times as much as good fielding to the performance of the team, and good batting even more.

``Over the period of our database, New Zealand ranked first out of all the major cricketing nations in taking catches and effecting run outs, once the degree of difficulty of the catch or run out was taken into account.’’