Statistician stumps England

January 10, 1997

Not many academics can claim to be directly responsible for England losing an international cricket match - but statistician Tony Lewis can.

Mr Lewis, who lectures at the University of the West of England, Bristol, was co-deviser, with Frank Duckworth of the Royal Statistical Society, of the new formula devised to decide one-day matches interrupted by the weather.

It was used for the first time when England played Zimbabwe on New Year's Day: "On the simple run-rate method used previously England would have been set 169 to win and would have won. Under our formula they needed 185 and lost."

He was delighted to see his formula in action and had no doubt that it worked the right way: "Zimbabwe certainly deserved to win and most comments on the way the formula worked have been very positive."

Because tour playing conditions are negotiated between national governing bodies Lewis and Duckworth's formula will not be in use for England's games in New Zealand - but it has been adopted for domestic one-day competitions from the start of next season.

They will go on working on refinements to the formula and improvements such as a means of determining the precise margin of victory in a match determined by it. This was unclear after the New Year's Day game.

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