Damned winners and statistics

October 5, 2007

Disgruntled sports fans have long cried "We was robbed!", but now they can turn to a pair of academics to quantify the injustice.

Salford University's David Forrest and PhD student Ron Dorsey have studied the results of county championship cricket matches since 1993 in an effort to determine the value of winning the coin toss and the impact caused by rain delays.

In this year's county championship, Sussex narrowly pipped Lancashire to the title on a nail-biting final day. The academics reveal that, over the season, Sussex won three more tosses and played nearly three more days of cricket because of fewer rain interruptions. With the help of statistical adjustment, they show that Lancashire are rightful champions. What might their next challenge be? The research assessment exercise?

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