Friday, 29 August 2014

Column 26, 2014 – Cryptic point scoring

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 98, Friday August 29, 2014.
[Full text below]

The methods of scoring cricket in leagues are arcane and esoteric, and appear to have been specifically designed so that even people who’ve been doing it for decades have to look it up to make sure.

In the County Championship, you get 16 points for a win, eight for a tie and five for a draw. Then there’s a bonus batting point available at 250 runs, then another for every 50 up to a maximum of five at 400. You also get a bonus bowling point for taking three wickets, another for taking six, then a final one for the ninth, but only in the first 110 overs of the first innings, regardless of who wins.

Got that? Good now pay attention, I’m just getting started.

The Hampshire Cricket League is similar but different (of course it is). You get 12 for a win, six for a tie. Batting bonus points start at 50 runs, and then every 25 up to 200, to a possible maximum of seven. Bonus bowling points come every two wickets. Both have 24 point maximum wins, which may or may not be coincidence, who knows.

There are plenty of instances where maximum points are denied the victor, mostly by the weather. For instance, if your opponents batting first are all out cheaply, there are further points available for wickets in hand, but not in rain-reduced matches. I suppose that’s about right, as the game’s least fair factor has always been rain.

Hampshire Cricket Leagues are at least calculated on points average – total points divided by completed matches – so sides are less likely to be penalised for being rained off.

But I’ve never really understood why we bother with bonus points at all for the winners. If you win, well that’s it – you’ve won. You can’t really do any better than winning, so forget bonus points. For my money, if you win you should get maximum points. The loser can pick up bonus batting and bowling points, as, well – consolation prizes. Doesn’t that make sense? Doesn’t it put more of a premium on winning?

Anyway I digress: this is the time of year when people start paying attention to the scoring system, because promotion and relegation are suddenly looming.

Having gone up last year, our sole aim this year was to stay up.

Tomorrow (Saturday 30th) is our last league game of 2014. We are 13th. 17 and 18 are already down, and the last relegation spot could go to anyone from 12 to 16. Without relying on the misfortune of others, we need nine points to guarantee our safety. As you can see from the system above, getting nine points and not winning is actually quite tricky to pull off, so realistically, we need to win our last game.

Alternatively, we need cricket’s least fair factor to come to our rescue. Is it cowardly to pray for rain? If we’re rained off, we’re safe.

- ends 489 words -

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