Cricket for Americans: 25 Feb. 2019: A hard rain

The third ODI between England and the Windies in St. George’s was abandoned today because of the rain.

This is something you are going to need to get used to. Cricket takes place, primarily, in some of the dampest places on earth. Southeast Asia, New Zealand, the UK: damp, damp, damp. Cardiff, in Wales, for instance, which is the host city for four World Cup matches this summer, receives 115 cm of rainfall per year. The US gets, on average, about half that.

And so while we are all looking forward with great gusto to what should be really fun summer of cricket in England, I guarantee you will pull up Willow TV at least a half dozen times June through August and see something similar to this image:


And your heart will sink. Gray banks of cloud, covers on the pitch, empty stands. You will check the weather and see what the Cricinfo commentators have to say, and you will cross your fingers that the storm will move off and then it will and then a new start time will be announced as they need to let the outfield dry and then five minutes before the new start time it will start to rain again.

Sometimes, though, the storm really does move off which means, if it’s a one day game, they have to either cut the overs played or — if one team has already been batting for a spell — employ something called Duckworth-Lewis to decide the new score that the other team will have to chase. Some people understand the rule and how it works. I don’t. You probably won’t either. A sample:

The original D/L model started by assuming that the number of runs that can still be scored (called Z), for a given number of overs remaining (called u) and wickets lost (called w), takes the following exponential decay relationship where the constant Z is the asymptotic average total score in unlimited overs (under one-day rules), and b is the exponential decay constant. Both vary with w (only). The values of these two parameters for each w from 0 to 9 were estimated from scores from ‘hundreds of one-day internationals’ and ‘extensive research and experimentation’, though were not disclosed due to ‘commercial confidentiality’.

So there you go.

Long story short: it’s gonna rain, and it’s gonna be a bummer when it does. Those are the only cold, hard facts of cricket.

That makes three things in life that you can rely on:

Death, taxes, and a washout in Wales.

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