Who’s winning? Duckworth-Lewis-Stern has the answer!

I have been lucky enough to play in a couple of matches recently where we had two competent (and socially distanced) scorers, using the Play-Cricket scoring software, and at grounds with modern digital scoreboards.

It was fascinating to watch the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern “par score” throughout the 2nd innings, on both occasions as we successfully defended our own 1st innings scores.

It was noticeable how closely the DLS par scores matched the players’ perceptions of which team held the “advantage” as the game progressed. A good partnership saw the scoreboard approach the par; a couple of maidens, or (especially) a wicket or two saw the par score race ahead of the batting sides total.

For us (Seniors, over 60s, many having played the game for 50 years or more — perhaps 1,000 years combined playing experience between us), the DLS par only served to confirm what playing the game for many years had taught us.

But might the DLS par provide an answer to the perennial question from the cricketing newbie — “who’s winning?”

What is DLS?

The basic principle is that each team in a limited-overs match has two resources available with which to score runs, the overs to play and wickets remaining.

The DLS target score (referred to as “DLS par”) is adjusted proportionally to the change in the combination of these two resources. At any point in any innings, a team’s ability to score more runs depends on the combination of these two resources they have left.

DLS par score

The score (runs & wickets) at the end of each over have been transcribed from Play-Cricket.

DLS par scores at the end of each over have been recreated using the Play-Cricket scorers’ app. The par score at the end of each over, in the chart and shown in the table below) might not be exactly as recorded on the day (see Caveats, below), but the pattern is recognisably similar.

The plot below shows the “score against par” ([actual score] – [DLS par], vertical axis) at the end of each over for one of the recent games.

A wicket in the first over put the batting team immediately behind par.

A steady partnership over the next 22 overs saw the DLS deficit stabilised, and eventually reduced to single figures, only for a couple of wickets to put the batting team behind, again.

As further wickets fell, the deficit increased, until a double wicket maiden (over 36) left the batting side more than 50 runs behind DLS par.

No way back from there!

DLS par tells a story

Each inflection point in the chart corresponds with a “significant” action on the pitch – the fall of a wicket or an expensive over – and gives a graphic indication of which team holds the advantage.

Not what DLS was invented for, perhaps, but “score against par” does offer an immediate answer to the question who’s winning now!


Runs scored, wickets lost, DLS par at end of each over

overscorewktsDLS paragst Par
00000
10112-12
21116-15
31118-17
49120-11
59122-13
614124-10
720127-7
822129-7
923132-9
1024134-10
1125137-12
1230140-10
1332142-10
1435145-10
1537148-11
1639151-12
1742154-12
1848158-10
1950161-11
2054165-11
2160168-8
2267172-5
2368176-8
2471285-14
2577289-12
2679399-20
27873102-15
28903106-16
29953110-15
301013114-13
311033118-15
321034127-24
331055137-32
341055140-35
351105144-34
361107163-53
371207165-45
381247167-43
391287169-41
401337172-39
411378181-44
421438183-40
431518187-36
441549193-39
451559199-44

Caveats

  1. I don’t know how the scorers in our game set up the DLS calculations. The play-cricket scorers’ app assumes 50 overs and a base score of 245; typical scores in Seniors cricket might be 180/200 in 45 overs for completed 1st innings.
  2. DLS was never intended to model the performance of Seniors players, where “fitness” might be considered an additional resource — success in the 2nd innings sometimes depends on which team can keep all of its players on the field longest! The later overs of the 2nd innings never seem to yield as many runs as the first innings!

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; All Stars Cricket Activator & Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire; ECB Coach Developer

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