Welcome to this landmark 100th edition of Figure it out. Over the weeks the OR team have been giving readers a light hearted twist on topical news stories and events. Many have been ‘corkers’ and some as dry and flat as a sub continent test match wicket. (You may have guessed where I’m going here…) Regardless, we would like to thanks all those involved in the production of these articles and you the reader for getting us here.

I’m sure many of you have been following the recent England vs. India Test match series with much interest. To make it clear, I’m not going to talk about the dominance of England’s pace attack, or the depth in their batting line-up, or draw any comparisons to 2005. Instead I will focus on a topic that I’m sure many India supporters will have been discussing long before the first test at Lords – “when will Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th 100?”

Although the FIO team have may have reached this landmark in good time, ‘the little master’ is still pursuing his! Again I will call upon my trusted ‘friends’ again to give their totally ‘un’-biased views on the matter:

Quote 1: The Sky Sports fanatic “To be fair to him, he may struggle to get it against the current England bowling attack. Jimmy Anderson has got him out more times than any other bowler in test cricket, and with Bresnan’s “heavy ball” and Broad’s “improved length” he may struggle even if Jimmy is off form

Quote 2: The ever optimist “He scored a good fifty in his last innings. I think he will get it because he is getting used to the conditions now and with Sehwag potentially coming back there should hopefully be some more runs on the board before he gets in, and so hopefully less pressure on him”

Quote 3: The MCC Member “That’s an interesting question, let me put down my PIMMs and give you my insight on that. I think he is has been a wonderful ambassador for Indian cricket and a credit to the game. Young man, I do however believe that in the current series the little master may have to wait a while before he achieves this magnificent 100th 100.Bravo”

Quote 4: The extreme supporter “He should have had it already man! He was robbed of a 100 when that Hawk eye gave him out when he weren’t. He is a ledge. He should be Prime Minister of India! Honestly man – he was robbed I is telling ya! This is a conspiracy man”

Ok then…. I think we have heard enough opinions on the matter. Let’s look at how we can provide Sachin and his supporters a more ‘sophisticated’ insight about when and under what circumstances he may score this landmark ton using analytical methods.

We start by getting some stats relating to all of Sachin’s test and one day international innings scores using the free query tool on the cricinfo.com website. To date there have been 736 innings where he has had an opportunity to bat and out of them he has scored 99 hundreds. On average therefore he scores a hundred every 7-8 innings – not bad. This average however doesn’t take into account recent form. For this we can use a slightly improved moving averaging technique to see what this tells us.

It ‘forecasts’ that his next 100 should have been 3 innings after his previous 100 which indicates the good form he has been in. Considering his last 100 was 8 innings ago, he should have delivered by now though!

All of this analysis however is relatively simple and only takes into account frequency between 100s. Looking at data from the cricinfo website there are more facts that we know about each of Sachin’s 736 innings that we may be able to use to better ‘predict’ the likelihood of 100 or a high score. To keep things simple we will use 3 predictors to test the likelihood of getting a high score and look at the R-squared value. The R –squared value is a measure of ‘how good’ the predictor variable (Batting strike rate) is at estimating the outcome (Runs scored).

The table shows a relatively low R-squared value in all instances. If the R-squared figure for the batting strike rate was closer to 1, then there would be more evidence for Sachin that improving his strike rate (by taking more risks?) would increase his chances of a higher score. A negative R-squared value for the batting order number may also suggest that he scores better when batting higher up the order then lower. Although these findings may be fairly obvious, the relatively low correlation suggests that wherever he bats or whatever technique he adopts, he will still be able to score runs! My prediction is that he will get it in the 3rd test against England!

What we have shown is a simple way of how predictive analytics works. If Sachin or anyone else would like to know how Predictive Analytics can help their game, please contact Neal Mistry from the OR team. It doesn’t guarantee to make you a better player though!