We are the Robots

A couple weeks back, I predicted the outcome of all the matches at the ICC World T20s using the ICC’s very own ranking system as a guide.

It got one very big thing wrong right at the start, as the Netherlands qualified and Ireland did not, but it still started out with an impressive streak of eight matches in a row correctly predicted.

Now with two and a half matches left to go in the group stages, I wanted to take another look at how my predictions did.

Group 1:

Super 10; Group 1 Predicted Winner Actual
SA v SL SL SL
ENG v NZ NZ NZ
NZ v SA SA SA
SL v IRE SL SL
SA v IRE SA SA
ENG v SL SL ENG
NZ v IRE NZ NZ
ENG v SA SA SA
ENG v IRE ENG NETH
NZ v SL SL n/a

That’s seven out of nine correct – which means the ICC robots got 78% of its pre-tournament predictions right in this group. That’s impressive. If this was Vegas, the ICC would get kicked out of the casino for card counting.

As I type this, New Zealand are 23/4 and collapsing, so it will likely be a solid 8 out of 10 for the ICC’s rankers – a classy 80%.

But they got one match very, very wrong. For today in Chittagong, the Netherlands humiliated and hapless England. It was a simultaneously unpredictable and predictable result. Everyone knew that England were in a shambles, despite an impressive win over Sri Lanka. And despite the points they had built up in the T20 format over the last couple of years, everyone – save the ICC robots – knew that England might struggle against a spirited Dutch side. And they did. And that’s why we play the games. Because sometimes the things that really matter don’t show up on a stat sheet. I don’t put a ton of stock in the sports cliches of “clutch” and “hustle” and the like – I think it is more that good cricketers play for good cricket sides and those good cricket sides more often than not beat poorer cricket sides – but things like momentum and attitude and chutzpah and spirit and teamwork MATTER. And those are not tangibles. And that’s why we play the games. For the intangibles.

Onto group 2:

Super 10; Group 1 Predicted Winner Actual
IND v PAK IND IND
AUS v PAK PAK PAK
IND v WI IND IND
WI v BANG WI WI
AUS v WI AUS WI
IND v BANG IND IND
PAK v BANG PAK PAK
AUS v IND IND IND
AUS v BANG AUS n/a
PAK v WI PAK n/a

With two matches still to come tomorrow, the ICC robots are 7 for 8 for an impressive 88%. If Aus v Bang and Pak v WI go as predicted, it will end up at 90%.

What this shows us, I think, is that for the most part, the ICC rankings are pretty good, if not infallible. And so while I think they can and should be used a guide for tournament rankings and the like, I do think they are not quite good enough to be used to determine which sides should get into those tournaments and which stay home. And I certainly don’t think they are good enough for the proposed relegation/promotion system.

*

And just as a reminder, here is how the robots predict the knockout stages:

Semi-Final #1: Winner
Sri Lanka v Pakistan Sri Lanka
Semi-Final #2: Winner
India vs South Africa India
Final Winner
Sri Lanka vs India Sri Lanka

A couple of results in the group stage still need to go the right way for those to hold true, but I think that looks about right.

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2 Responses to We are the Robots

  1. Interesting stuff. I didn’t realise it was going along quite so predictably, to me a lot of games seemed 50/50 before they started. Even England getting dicked by the Dutch was barely a shock as well!

  2. Pingback: We are the robots, part 2 | Limited Overs

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