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WASP: Winning and Score Predictor makes for an interesting watch on television

WASP has been trending in the cricketing world since Sunday's ODI encounter between India and New Zealand. Photo Courtesy: Paul McClean's Youtube channel
WASP has been trending in the cricketing world since Sunday’s ODI encounter between India and New Zealand. Photo Courtesy: Paul McClean’s Youtube channel

 

As the WASP  got trending after the India-New Zealand first One-Day International (ODI) at Napier, Abhijit Banare gives a brief insight about WASP, why it is interesting and why it is just limited to being a good watch on television.

 

The first One-Day International (ODI) between India and New Zealand grabbed a lot of attention for a little statistic which kept changing on the right side of the score tab of the television. The Winning and Score Predictor (WASP) is a new statistical tool to predict the outcome of a match. This tool will be used only for ODI and T20 matches. The WASP uses past records of the teams to predict the total score of the team batting first and then predicts the chances of winning for the team batting second.

 

 

Who founded it:

 

The WASP technique is an outcome of a research from University of Canterbury (UC) Phd Graduate Dr Scott Brooker and his supervisor Dr Seamus Hogan. The duo has explained some of the functioning in their research for UC titled ‘A Method for Inferring Batting Conditions in ODI Cricket from Historical Data’. The founders used the data of non-shortened ODI and Tewenty20 matches since 2006. WASP was first used by Sky Sport in November 2012 during a match between Auckland and Wellington in the HRV Cup.

 

Two key elements of WASP

 

The entire calculations of WASP is to predict the outcome of two things

 

a) The first innings score of a team based on their past records, players, details of the venue where it is being played.

 

b) Predict the outcome of a match based on the past records of the team and venue.

 

 

The author, Dr Seamus Hogan has explained some of the elements like the ground record and batting conditions in detail on his blog Offsetting Behaviour. These two elements keep changing with every ball bowled during the match. In contrast to going plainly on projected scores through run-rates, the WASP looks closely at the past records to estimate the WASP score. Example: During the 2011 World Cup Final, when India were 31 for two in the chase of 274, the past records of India against Sri Lanka,  the performances in World Cup finals, the batting conditions would determine how less India’s chances were in winning. To imagine a similar situation against a team like Bangladesh, India would have a higher WASP percentage of winning the World Cup. Eventually as the match progresses, the WASP score too keeps changing.

 

Why is it interesting?

 

Quotes and phrases like ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings’, ‘Cricket is a game of uncertainties’, ‘it’s too early to predict’, etc are clichés we often hear during the commentaries of various matches. Even fans enjoy indulging in discussing various probabilities The WASP is one of the way to satiate the hunger created by the unpredictable nature of the game. In order to keep the spectators engaged, WASP is just a tool to make the watching of the match more interesting. However, the calculations of WASP are complicated for the common fan to enjoy the prediction just like the Duckworth Lewis method has been.

 

However, as the WASP keeps changing ball-by-ball there’s not much influence of decisions of neither teams nor the situations. ‘Sabermetrics’ coined by Bill James used in Baseball helps in objectively understanding the capabilities of a player in contributing to a team based on his skill, records and what he can do for the team. Teams can make a decision based on such statistics. WASP is just there for making the fun of predictions more concrete using statistics.

 

Rare Situations:

 

The WASP uses records of the two limited-overs formats since 2006. Not much is known why the 2006 benchmark has been set up. It will be interesting to understand the use of WASP in rain-curtailed matches when the targets keep revising. Another interesting argument about the use of WASP has been explained in the blog Offsetting Behaviour which explains WASP in detail. Dr. Hogan also explains in his blog that the WASP ‘can be messed up a bit if a batsman retires hurt and may or may not return to the crease’. However, he is confident of the system evolving over a period of time.

 

Don’t be surprised that one day a statistical tool may emerge to predict the score of a batsman while he walks out to bat using a combination of his past records, techniques, opposition bowlers and even predict a bowler’s figures. Sounds crazy isn’t it? That’s the fun of cricket. There can be hundred ways to statistically analyse the outcome or performance of a team in a match. But the sport has often provided its fair share of uncertainties which has kept the viewers and spectators hooked up.

 

In the end, WASP is likely to make for an interesting aspect to debate the performance while watching a game of cricket and not much beyond that. Statistics help you to understand the game better because it comes close to understanding the player and sport as a whole.

 

But it isn’t wise to put your money ONLY on statistics to think of an outcome.

 

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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