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Thursday, April 1, 2021

'Operational Issue' ~ Russel Domingo's furore on DLS and Jeff Crowe !!

There are ‘euphemisms’ and Office slangs .. .. ‘Operational Issue’ is perhaps one !!  -  a legal definition reads it to be :  an issue or problem perceived by one or more Parties arising out of the operation of the arrangements designed to facilitate competition in the gas industry, which, for the avoidance of doubt, shall not be limited to issues or problems arising out of or impacting upon this Agreement !  ~ this is a Cricket post !!

The entertaining Cricket World Cup 2019 ended with ‘a virtual no result’ – yes – ‘a tie’ – a super over ending in another tie but England winning the tournament after 48 games, for the first time and, and New Zealand not losing the match !   "Ridiculous", "absurd", "random", "arbitrary", "unsatisfactory", "galling", "unfortunate", "a shame" ~ is what Kiwis had to scream about.  Seemingly fair, as   Black Caps fate  on a World Cup final was decided by a countback of boundaries hit.   One more time when technology robbed the result of a game !  

In the recent ODI series – ‘soft-signal’ was much debated especially when Suryakumar Yadav's sparkling maiden innings was curtailed.  There were talks as much for his brilliant strokeplay as for the manner of dismissal. Yadav had been caught by Dawid Malan at backward square leg, even as TV replays remained inconclusive about whether Malan's fingers were under the ball or not. On-field umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan's soft signal was 'out', and TV umpire Virender Sharma upheld that decision, holding that there was no conclusive evidence to overturn it.  It is now stated that in IPL 2021 there would be no soft signals !

With a record of 0-31 against the Black Caps in New Zealand, Bangladesh have one more T20 in Auckland on Thursday to get off the mark, without star players Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. Yet only statistics should not be held against them as they felt robbed today .. .. Said Domingo: “It’s a tough place and New Zealand are playing great cricket. Our record here is not great. We’ve shown glimpses of what we can do but we’ve not been consistent enough.” In a world ruled by algorithms, McLean Park saw hopelessly old school scenes as middle-aged men huddled around laptops more than an over after Bangladesh's chase had started.   The furore was on DLS !

'The Duckworth/Lewis method for re-setting targets in modern one-day cricket has gained an unjust reputation for one basic reason - people simply do not understand it. Anything that cannot be easily understood tends to make people switch-off and join the ranks of the critics.

The scorecard of 2nd T20I (N), Napier, Mar 30 2021,  would read New Zealand 173 for 5 (Phillips 58*, Mitchell 34*, Mahedi 2-45) beat Bangladesh 142 for 7 (Sarkar 51, Naim 38, Southee 2-21) by 28 runs (DLS method)  Though this is a Series in New Zealand, the sponsor is a Bangala company.  Alesha Mart Ltd., a leading E-commerce company in Bangladesh behind  "Alesha Mart Cup Bangladesh tour of New Zealand ODI/T20I Series". In a relatively short span of time, cricket in Bangladesh has eclipsed the likes of football to establish itself as the premier sport in the nation.  

In a rain-interrupted fixture on a drizzly Tuesday evening in Napier, New Zealand, bowling with a wet ball that was becoming increasingly hard to grip, had to work hard to eke out a 28-run win over Bangladesh via the DLS method. This gave them an unprecedented ninth straight home series victory, with Glenn Phillips playing a key role with both bat and ball, even though most of the wickets were picked up by their pace bowlers.  Glenn Dominic Phillips was born in 1996 in East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa.  Though he too is a wicket-keeper the keeper for the match was - Devon Philip Conway and Glenn took a wicket too !

Bangladesh cricket coach Russell Domingo took aim at match officials for the farcical delay in confirming their revised run chase, and for making his players field in persistent rain in Napier. The frustrations of a tough tour boiled over for Domingo, the South African who couldn’t fathom today’s events as they lost the second Twenty20 international to the Black Caps by 28 runs. The hosts clinched the T20 series 2-0 with one to play, making it seven wins from as many home series in 2020-21. Experienced match referee Jeff Crowe was first to cop it from Domingo as his openers Naim Sheikh and Litton Das went out to bat with no one at McLean Park knowing Bangladesh’s rain-adjusted winning target. Domingo also demanded answers from on-field umpires Chris Brown and Wayne Knights who let play continue through persistent rain. Play was halted at 7.55pm but they returned 25min later, as Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell plundered late in the Black Caps’ total of 173-5 off 18 overs.

Play had to be stopped in unprecedented circumstances soon after Bangladesh began their chase in the second T20I in Napier because of uncertainty around the eventual target and absence of DLS sheets. The big screen at McLean Park, the official BlackCaps Twitter handle, and the ICC website all said Bangladesh's target in the rain-affected match was 148 in 16 overs, which was later corrected to 170, and then the eventual accurate target of 171. However, it is not yet clear if the Bangladesh team, too, were given the wrong target at the start of the innings. What is certain is that neither side was immediately provided with DLS sheets with over-by-over par scores, which were crucial as it continued to rain.

Bangladesh were nine balls into the chase when play had to be stopped. Just before that, coach Russell Domingo and manager Sabbir Khan were seen having a conversation with the match referee Jeff Crowe. New Zealand had been forced off the field by rain after batting 17.5 overs, in which they had scored 173 for 5.

"There was an operational issue at the ground, which meant the DLS sheet could not be handed over to the teams," an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. "The target score was verbally communicated to the umpires at the start of the innings. However, play had to be halted after 1.3 overs as the teams requested for the DLS sheet to know the targets at different points during the innings. Play was resumed once the DLS sheets were provided to the teams." It isn't clear yet what the operational issue was, though there appears to have been a mix-up in the DLS sheet that was handed to Crowe. He is said to have recognised that the target on that sheet was incorrect and asked for the correct version. What is also clear, however, as Domingo said later, is that the teams should not have gone out on the field without updated DLS sheets in their hand.

That has been acknowledged by match officials and it is believed Crowe has since apologised to both teams for it. Neither did it help matters that the ground scoreboard showed the over-by-over par score according to the calculation that New Zealand had batted 20 overs, not 17.5. Had New Zealand batted 20 overs and posted the same score, the target would have been 148 in 16 overs. "I don't think I have been involved in a game before where batters go out and don't know what the DLS target is," Domingo said. "There was a lot of rain around. Nobody had any idea of how many we needed after five or six overs. I don't think the game should have started until it was finalised, before there was a clear indication of what is required, and what we needed at certain stages. I don't quite think it [the conduct of the match] was good enough this evening.

The Duckworth–Lewis system, devised by statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis (and lately modified by Steve Stern), was invented in the 1990s as a replacement for alternative rules on what to do if it rained during cricket games. It got its due after the 'unfair' rain rule that cost South Africa a World Cup spot in 1992. The Proteas' task of 22 from 13 balls was reduced after a brief rain to 21 required off a single delivery in a notorious World Cup semi-final against England.

Duckworth-Lewis is based on the idea of compensating rain-affected teams for the loss of "run-scoring resources". The D/L method works on the basis that teams have two resources to make runs with: the number of overs to be bowled and the number of wickets in hand. From any point in an innings, a team's ability to make further runs depends on a combination of both resources. When a match is shortened, the resources of one or both teams are affected. The D/L method sets targets based on the relative resources available to the teams. The Standard Edition of the D/L method - in use before 2004 - needed no more than a calculator and a set of tables that listed the resources remaining. The calculations required to arrive at the target were performed by consulting the tables. A criticism of the Standard Edition was its use of a quantity known as G50, the average score in a one-day match. Critics claimed that G50 would differ from ground to ground. The Professional Edition, which is used in international cricket these days, doesn't have the G50. But it requires a computer program.

Interesting and confusing still !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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