The West Indies’ 2015 World Cup strategy

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Let’s take a day off from the office politics and instead take a look at some cricket. The West Indies beat India today.

Hypothesis testing

One of the most interesting things in the run-in to the World Cup – often more interesting than the tournament itself – is that we can compare the different approaches of the various nations. England’s strategy will change precisely five more times before the tournament starts, but most teams have a fair idea by now how they’re going to try and win the precious few 50-over matches that really matter.

One-day cricket is very formulaic, but the rules change rapidly and no two squads are the same, so we don’t really know for certain the best approach at present. We’d slotted the West Indies into the second tier of teams behind Australia, India and South Africa, but looking at their team, we think we might be doing them a disservice. Also Sri Lanka now that we come to think about it.

What are they doing?

They’re hampered by the absence of Sunil Narine and who knows whether he’ll be back for the World Cup. But despite this, they have a lot going for them. Their most obvious strengths are a plethora of all-rounders and a surfeit of might in their lower order batting. Obviously, the two are linked.

If Denesh Ramdin seems at least a place too high at number five, a six-seven-eight of Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy gives them three shots at death-over carnage. With Dwayne Bravo currently opening the batting and three specialist bowlers, they also aren’t short of options with the ball. One-day cricket has shown us time and time again that if you don’t have one Wasim Akram, you may still be able to get away with a motley assortment of Chris Harrises and Sanath Jayasuriyas.

What are their chances?

It seems a rather fragile strategy – light on batting, light on out-and-out bowlers – but we can see it working. It’s almost a case of carrying maximum ammunition and then just firing indiscriminately hoping something hits the spot. It’s a funny sort of numbers game, but perhaps it fits the current fielding restrictions and whatnot.

King Cricket rating: Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York

A few sound fundamentals, but mostly just throwing all sorts of stuff out there in the hope that some of it sticks.

Other nations’ World Cup strategies.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


    1. Contrast with KP, who “made mistakes, I was too honest”.

      But back to West Indies. It’s strange isn’t it, that however chaotic the WICB gets and however bad West Indies becomes at test cricket, you always feel that they are at least in with a shout at big international limited overs tournaments.

      I haven’t felt that way about England for more than 20 years.

    2. Inconsistency can be a pro for a “weaker” team at a big tournament, not necessarily a con. The chances of getting a freakishly good outcome despite a low mean are improved by having a high standard deviation. A team who are somewhat better on average, albeit still not great, yet who tend to perform consistently to that expectation (low standard deviation) have much worse chances of producing the excellent result they’d need to win a tournament.

      Contrast that to poor (in diverse senses) Zim, who perform consistently to a low expectation and whose chances of winning have just dissolved into even thinner air. I’m absolutely gutted for Utseya; his startling economy rate in ODIs is the stuff that dreams are made on, and the contrast with his mediocre (let’s be generous) bowling average is one of my favourite statistical quirks in international cricket.

  1. Are all the teams going to be rated by comparison to Daniel Day-Lewis performances? If so, can I suggest his turn as ‘Child Vandal (uncredited)’ in “Sunday Bloody Sunday” for one of the Associate nations?

    1. We haven’t really decided on the rating system yet. We’re hoping it just sort of works itself out as we do other nations. Day-Lewis performances might prove too a narrow palette to express our feelings however.

    2. I don’t watch films. I suspect I’m not alone, but I think that’s just the noise of the wind outside, coupled with a general sense of paranoia.

      Anyway, back to films. I don’t watch them. I have heard of Daniel Day Lewis, and Gangs of New York, but I have never seen either, and especially not one in the other. I’ve seen Blade Runner though, and Watch Out We’re Mad of course.

      If you’re going to have a rating system for cricket based on something not connected to cricket, can you choose something a bit less esoteric than Hollywood films. You might have seen this film, but what are the chances that someone else has? I’ve drawn up a list of things I understand, just to help you.

      Rugby League
      Axiomatic Set Theory
      The 1980s
      Blade Runner
      Alexander The Great (that’s not you by the way, that would be weird)

      I think that’s about it, but I am quite sure that any references you can take from this wide range of subjects will be universally understood, unlike your current obsession with films.

    3. So, the scenarios under which the England team could win the world cup is the intersection of the conquest of Persia and the replicants?

    4. India – Tyrell, evil controller of a world empire

      West Indies – Deckard, completely unaware of what he actually is

      Pakistan – Leon, mad as a fruit bat

      Sri Lanka – Rachel, would fail an empathy test

      New Zealand – Pris, likeable and pretty, but you suspect hidden weirdness

      South Africa – Roy, quite likeable, but you don’t want him to actually win

      Australia – Zhora, especially enjoyable when she gets shot in the back

      England – JF Sebastian, accelerated decrepitude

    5. Alexander The Great was a megalomaniac who believed he was better then the rest, and that his friends were plotting against him [1]*. He was the world’s first metrosexual [2], [3]. He had his way with women, and didn’t mind the occasional bumcock [copyright KC] action with Hephaestion [4,5,6]. After he was gone, there was a period of confusion and the ancient world was full of strife and political back and forth [7]. He was also a complete bastard whose only goal was glory and wealth, regardless of how many people die in the process [8,9].

      As such, he reminds me of nobody related to cricket, and I recommend we reject Bert’s proposal.

      * Any similarity with KP, Broad, Watson, Giles Clarke, Srinivasan, Shastri and the like is purely imaginary. Also, the references may or may not exist.

    6. We feel we have good knowledge of Bladerunner but worry that the film’s themes don’t give rise to good World Cup chances analogies.

      West Indies’ selection of big-hitting, mediocre-bowling, lower-order all-rounders is like Dr Eldon Tyrell’s glasses – it seems a bit over the top, but maybe they need more than you think.

    7. My knowledge of films is even worse than Bert’s, so I’m going to stick to the axiomatic set theory side of things.

      KP’s presence in the England squad is like the Axiom of Choice – you basically need to assume that it doesn’t apply, but there’s a bloody massive argument over whether it should or not.

    8. Zermelo-Fraenkel Team Theory:

      If two teams contain all the same players, they are the same team (Axiom of Extensionality)

      No single player is the team (Axiom of Foundation)

      Any separate group of players within a team are effectively their own team (Axiom Schema of Specification)

      From all the players available, it must be possible to make a team out of them (Axiom of Pairing)

      The players’ union can form their own team (Axiom of Union)

      Getting rid of a player shouldn’t destroy a team (Axiom Schema of Replacement)

      There is no end to the debate about who should be in a team (Axiom of Infinity)

      If you start making groups within a team, it just gets complicated (Axiom of Power Set)

      A team is only a proper team if all its members are well behaved (Well Ordering Theorem)

    9. 😆

      Nobody else is going to appreciate that, but as a maths graduate, I do. Top stuff, Bert.

    10. Thinking about it, I now realise that Roy was blatantly an honorary South African and that description was excellent.

      Also, the Zermelo-Fraenkel Team Theory is an even greater work of genius than it first appears – because a true Zermelo-Fraenkel Theory would only contain the first eight axioms. Including the Well-ordering Theorem is equivalent to adding the Axiom of Choice, in which case your team theory switches from mere Zermelo-Fraenkel to full-fat ZFC.

      In other words, the one contentious aspect of the discussion is whether “A team is only a proper team if all its members are well behaved” – and it is the pro and anti factions to this debate who have separated so divergently across the KP Or Not KP axis.

    11. I reject the Well Behaved Team Axiom, as it leads to a paradox – the Ban That Arse KP Paradox. This is where one really dull player can be disassembled into a few components parts and reassembled into eleven really dull players.

  2. Bert, Rugby League wise, I’d say the West Indies are probably Huddersfield Giants? Pakistan are definitely Salford.

    Alexander the Great references are more suited to darts, really.

  3. I was lucky enough to see Daniel Day-Lewis play Hamlet at the National Theatre in 1989, before his famous/infamous collapse during that production, which led to his never appearing on stage again.

    Given the somewhat crazy nature of that saga and the fact that he has not been able to perform live on his home turf since, leaving his home fans with only the screen upon which to follow him, I propose Daniel Day-Lewis’s Hamlet to be Pakistan.

  4. how about comparing cricket teams to football

    Cricket :: Football
    India :: England – Hyped premier leagues & stars but flops in WC

    Australia :: Germany – never count them out, efficient, ruthless

    SA :: Holland – attractive game but chokers

    WI :: Brazil – everybodys second favorite after home team

    Pak :: Italy – homegrown players and system and controversial but always a strong contender in tournaments

    SL :: Portugal – attractive game but not a favorite due to small size and lack of depth

    NZ :: any of the East European countries who consistently overachieve and reach knock-outs

    Ireland :: African teams which are giant killers

    Bangladesh :: Mexico – very popular sport but never make it to the last rounds

    Eng :: USA – collection of expatriate players from different countries, but suffer because it is not primary sport

    1. on second thoughts should compare England to France – sob story most of the time and brightened by the occasional success

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