Possible methods for deciding test match draws
The proposals for a rebirth of a test championship raises the interesting question of what to do when a knockout test match is drawn. The broader context allows some default options, such as the higher ranked, or higher placed team progressing, or to calculate an aggregate margin in a drawn series. But depending on the format, there will often be occasions when teams need to be separated within a single match. Six options are discussed below, and their merits.
For the purposes of an example, Australia`s most recent draws (against New Zealand and West Indies) will be cited. Assume in both cases that it was a single match series.
By a timeless test
The traditional option, in many ways, as it was used to decide series in Australia even after the war, when the final test was decisive.
Pros: Result is not contrived, but within the match.
Cons: Discourages assertive batting; can cause significant scheduling problems if a test is drawn out, particularly in a tight tournament.
v NZ: Australia would have batted on in both innings, without the loss of wickets that proceeded the declaration. New Zealand would need at least 217 runs with 8 wickets in hand.
v WI: Another 28 wickets needed to be taken. Practically another test match.
By higher ranked side
If a competition has a group stage this would mean by higher points tally, but in a straight knockout would fall back on the ICC rankings (and their foibles).
Pros: Is immune to the weather; both sides know what to do.
Cons: Isn`t decided on the field; encourages the higher ranked (and stronger) side to play for a draw.
AUS def NZ
AUS def WI
By T20 / super over or equivalent
Five days of cricket completed in a different format, just to get one.
Pros: Is quick, entertaining, and decisive.
Cons: Ignores the result of the actual test; is also stymied by rain (particularly on day 5); would encourage teams that were beind (or strong at T20) to play for a draw.
By first innings totals
In the event of a draw the highest first innings would win. A format commonly used in club cricket, and to get results in first class competitions.
Pros: Makes for exciting cricket in the first innings, as a team must stay in front.
Cons: Would discourage declarations and attacking cricket; It is possible to rain out a first innings too.
NZ 624 def AUS 9/559
AUS require 154 runs. Match result undetermined.
By average (runs/wickets) for the series
In the event that the final match of a series was a decider, the average per wicket for the whole series could be used in the event of a draw. Otherwise this is equivalent to the count back method, below.
Pros: Gives teams a clear idea of what they need to do.
Cons: Favours the side batting last as they`ll only use their best batsmen; in a series works against the team that won the decisive moments (ala England in `09 and `15); discourages going for a result over building a big total; encourages declaring on tail-enders.
NZ 60.67 def AUS 59.00
AUS 88.00 def WI 33.00
By limiting the total overs (1st and 2nd innings combined)
In this format a team must declare their second innings (the third innings) when they have used half the match overs (usually 225). The team with the highest total would win, regardless of wickets. In the event of rain or slow over rates the allotted overs would need to be adjusted - in the event of late rain this would require a D/L style decision (or count back, as below). A single reserve day would significantly reduce the threat of confusing results.
Pros: Provides a finishing chase on the final day; ensures both teams to know what they need to do.
Cons: Could become messy with lost overs; a lot of rain would end up like an ODI.
In the match: AUS 236 overs for 944 runs vs NZ 182 overs for 724 runs
In this scenario: AUS 215 overs for 849 runs, leaving NZ 33 overs to get 125 (8 wickets in hand)
In this match: WI 113 overs for 330 runs v AUS 38 overs for 176 runs
In this scenario: WI D/L adjusted to 53 overs, leaving AUS ~10 runs in 15 overs (8 wickets in hand)
By count back
In this format, the team that was ahead at the loss of that particular wicket in their own innings would be declared the winner when time ran out. This would mean at any time in the match (after the first innings) a team could tell if they were in front.
Pros: Doesn`t unduly favour either side, and allows a match to fluctuate particularly as a draw approaches; discourages bowling for a declaration.
Cons: Encourages run-scoring over chasing a target; could be controversial if umpires end a match for light (ala PAK v ENG in UAE)
NZ 668/12 def AUS 601/12
Australia`s next wicket was at 829, meaning Australia would win if they`d taken a wicket in the last hour.
AUS 176/2 def WI 115/3
West Indies 7th wicket was at 246 meaning West Indies would need to take 5 wickets for less than 73 runs in the last hour.
Cricket - Manifesto
6th February, 2016 16:40:48