A decade of Duckworth-Lewis

The third National Bank ODI at Christchurch marked the 10th anniversary of the inroduction of the Duckworth-Lewis system.

The innovative scoring method entered its second decade in the top flight and fittingly was applied to the result at Jade Stadium, where the BLACKCAPS completed a win after a revision of the target due to rain.

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 the sun (Derby).

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.

The D-L method was applied in the ICC Trophy in Malaysia in 1997 and in New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, India and West Indies in 1998.

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.

Since then, whenever there is an unscheduled interruption in play, Messrs Duckworth and Lewis – or at least the results of their calculations – take centre stage.

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.

Duckworth said: “I recall hearing Christopher Martin-Jenkins on radio saying ‘surely someone, somewhere could come up with something better’ and I soon realized that it was a mathematical problem that required a mathematical solution.

Lewis added: “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.”

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