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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Test match cricket / playoff baseball comparison

I spent most of the weekend feeling rather worse for wear. What was particularly irritating about the situation was that there was no particular reason for my being off-colour. So I spent an appreciable portion of the weekend watching baseball, and I came to the conclusion that the play-off series are the most similar sporting event to probably my single most favourite sporting event: a cricket Test Match.

For those that don't know a cricket Test Match can take up to a maximum of 5 days, with most games finishing either on day 4 or day 5. Relatively few will finish on day 3, and I don't know of any matches that have only lasted two days (though there may have been the odd one or two). In my opinion the Test Match is the most strategic game that I have ever seen. This is most obvious when making a decisions to declare an innings, but infuses the entire game when one considers that a captain has to carefully manage his players - especially the bowlers.

It was the bowlers that got me thinking along these lines. In a playoff series deciding the starting pitchers is very important. Do you play a star pitcher in a critical game on 3 days rest, when they have never done that before - or go with someone less stellar but better rested? I get the feeling that this does not just apply to the starting pitchers, but to the whole bullpen as well.

Managing bowlers involves similar questions of their fitness and how well-rested they are. A team relies on usually four or five bowlers, perhaps backed up by a number of non-specialists (0-2). If you wear out your main attack...

Of course, there are many differences between the two, primarily the fact that the Test Match is a continuous game while a playoff series is just that, a series.

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