Thursday, May 20, 2010

Surrey v Middlesex - Match Drawn


I'm now in Phoenix after a 11-hour flight and 7-hour drive (love that LA rush hour!) and currently following the last day of the Surrey vMiddlesex cricket match online. I decided to create a separate post for the final result of the match that I saw a couple of days ago because there are some rules that should be explained first.

The Follow-on

After finishing day 2 on 148/0, Middlesex collapsed on Wednesday, losing all 10 wickets for only 176 additional runs to end their first innings at 324 against Surrey's 490. Surrey then had the option to ask for the follow-on. When the team batting second doesn't get close enough (150 runs in a 4-day match), their opponent has the option to make them bat again immediately. This way, the team with the lead has a better chance to win as they can bowl the team out twice for a smaller total to chase. As well, if the leading team is forced to bat again, they may put up such a high score that they won't have enough time to bowl their opponent out, resulting in a draw. Essentially the follow-on rule reduces the chance for the draw.

In this match though, Surrey, leading by 166 runs, did not enforce the follow-on, electing to bat instead.

Declaring

Surrey closed Wednesday's play at 165/2 with Mark Ramprakash at 100. This gave them a 331-run lead but with only one day left, the chances of both teams being bowled out were slim. So on Thursday, Surrey added 42 runs and then declared. This means they stopped batting as they believed they had enough runs to win the match. With only 88 overs left to play, they had to get all 10 Middlesex wickets to secure their first win of the season. Middlesex could win by scoring 374 runs, while a draw would result if Middlesex did not lose all 10 wickets.

Run Rate

Cricket is great for statistics, much like baseball. One key stat is the run rate. This is simply the number of runs per over. For example, Surrey's first innings saw them score 490 runs in 157.2 overs for a run rate of 3.11. The other way to use run rate though is to see what the necessary run rate is for a chasing team to win. For Middlsex, requiring 374 runs in 88 overs is a run rate of 4.25. Considering their first innings run rate was 3.61, it wasn't an impossible task, but not an easy one.

The Result

This would have been a great day to be at The Oval, but it's a bit far from Phoenix, so I resorted to following on-line.

Middlesex started slowly with Andrew Strauss and Scott Newman taking nearly 33 overs to put together a 103-run partnership (RR 3.14). They required another 271 runs in just 55.1 overs, or a very difficult 4.91 RR. It seems like they are playing for the draw, trying to avoid losing wickets rather than slog for the runs.

The match just finished and it was a draw as expected. This is probably the least comprehensible thing for fans who are new to cricket. How can you play 4 days and still have a draw?! The thing about cricket is that is a very subtle game. Although the final result is just a draw, during those 4 days it appeared as if both teams had a chance to win. The ebb and flow of the game over several days is what makes it unique and a sport I will continue to study in the years to come.

Best,

Sean

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