Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dyson blows Duckworth Lewis calculation

Off on an short trip to Spain in the morning but thought I'd say a few words about the Duckworth Lewis debacle in the first ODI between the West Indies and England before I leave for warmer climes.

I guess if you lost money on the match because of the farcical end then you're probably counting yourself more than a little unlucky though I'll have something to say about that later. First up though let's talk about the incident itself.

My immediate reaction is you just have to giggle. You can read about the
Dyson Duckworth Lewis Mistake there but essentially the West Indies' coach pulled his team off the pitch when they were offered bad light thinking they had won via the Duckworth Lewis method. Only to find out he had been reading the wrong line of a spread sheet - and they had, in fact, lost by one run. By which time it was too dark to go back out. Doh!

It brings back memories of Alan Ball desperately telling his Manchester City players to keep the ball shielded by a corner flag in the dying stages of an end of season game when the reality of the situation was they needed to score to prevent demotion. A howler. No more. No less.

That Dyson had made a mistake was immediately obvious by both the bemused but smiling England faces as they walked off the pitch looking at their own Duckworth Lewis sheet, as well as the excited tones of the Sky commentators who, realising they were on to a big story, revelled in the numbers being fed through by their "stats guys".

Fair play to Dyson who, after pointing suspiciously at his spreadsheet several times and storming off to see the match officials, finally realised he'd just made the mother of all balls ups. At which point he held his hands in the air and apologised to all and sundry insisting the mistake was entirely his responsibility. A refreshing attitude for sure. If not one likely to go down well in the West Indies' dressing room where tensions are already running high.

Anyway, it's not the first time Duckworth Lewis has caused
considerable embarrassment and probably won't be the last. But for the sake of the game it would be nice to think we can avoid these little errors going forward...

Speaking of mistakes a quick word on trading that match. I didn't get involved too deeply and by the time the farce unfurled I was sitting with a small four figure all green and just enjoying the cricket.

My point is really this though. I had levelled out. And was quite surprised to see so many people, particularly traders, posting on the Betfair forum claiming the mistake had cost them x amount of money. For several minutes, with both the light and rain closing in, the closeness of the Duckworth Lewis score and the impact wickets would have, staying involved in that market was madness. By that stage there was no real skill in whether people won or lost on trades being matched. It was a pure gamble. Hardly the environs of a trader looking for consistent profit.

I can maybe understand someone in an effectively all red position chasing a win. I don't agree with the strategy but I guess it's none of my business. What really suprised me though was people who had enough green on one side or another to secure a profit gambling 8 hours of trading away on what was essentially a punt. Of course, some came out of the situation all smiles while others, typically more vocal, bemoaned their bad luck.

I don't think it was bad luck. The odds were all over the place with flip flopping favourites. That's because it was a gamble. Both teams could win. If you had the chance to take a profit but chose the greed route instead on a 50/50 shot (literally at some points) and ended up losing then that's just probability coming home to roost. The method of losing the 50/50 shot is not important. The basic mathematical set up is.

The same can be said for those who had could have had all red books but decided to keep a small green on one side and large red on another. Suffering a sizeable loss here is just a consequence of preferring a gamble to cutting losses. Don't get me wrong. I'm not revelling in the losses of others. But when people start posting their positions on public forums and moaning about bad luck I'll often look at what they're saying and think about it.

In this instance I think it's fair comment that much of the damage was self inflicted and there's probably a lesson in there for all us traders. We will win sometimes and we all lose sometimes. Of course we do. Sometimes though it's too easy to blame unusual circumstances for losses when perhaps the truth is our own decision making at critical times was the real reason and an unusual event is just a convenient excuse.

I don't know, I guess cutting losses or guaranteeing a win in a highly volatile flip flopping market rather than trying to guess who wins and gambling a match worth of trading away in a couple of minutes is just more my personal style. Bemoaning bad luck in these circumstances is a little baffling though.

Anyway, I've probably banged on about that for long enough. No offence intended to anyone who lost. Just my views on it. One last thing before I turn the computer off - Mark Iverson.

I'm sure anyone who is / was a regular reader of his blog has seen that he has decided to finish it and has made a
goodbye post. A big shame as the blog was one of the best out there - thoughtful, insightful and well written. If you've not visited his blog for a while though and you've enjoyed his thoughts as much as I have over the years now's your chance to say so and wish him luck with the future.


Mark Iverson said...

Blimey - I nearly fainted - a blog post from BFT! LOL!

You write very well mate, you really should do it more often.

Thanks also for the mention. It's really strange not posting my results/thoughts etc. and it'll take a bit of getting used to.

All the best with Cricket Edge.

Speak soon andwino all the best.


Mark Iverson said...

Hang on a minute......

Just noticed 3 blog entries and the bombshell news of a BABY on the way!

Truly fantastic news mate, congratulations!

Make the most of lying in bed on a Sunday morning now!

All the best,


James said...

Glad you have started the blog again, find your commentary inciteful and thought provking. Am not a great cricket trader myself but think there are always lessons to apply elsewhere on other . markets. Keep it up.

The Betfair Trader said...

Cheers for the comments guys. Nice to know someone out there is still reading from time to time :-)

And thanks for the congratulations Mark. All getting a bit exciting now. Ordered the furniture for the nursery at the weekend so have to decorate it soon. :-0 Time seems to be flying by but it's just as well as I can't wait. :-)

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back