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Sri Lanka v England

No action? No problem – Statistician finds innovative solution to cricket-strapped times

Matt Parkinson and Dom Bess
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, may have brought sporting events worldwide to a screeching halt, but it hasn’t stopped Sky Sports statistician Benedict Bermange from devising an innovative way to bring some action.

In light of the postponement of England’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka following the outbreak of the virus, Bermange took the series to the virtual field, starting on March 19, the same day as the originally scheduled start of the series-opener.

The Sky Sports employee is using a cricket simulation technique to bring the action to life, with an algorithm that takes into account several statistics, including batting and bowling averages, strike-rates and bowling speeds. The game will then be played out on the basis of those figures.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat. They went into lunch at 76-2, but Angelo Mathews and Oshada Fernando fought back with a 110-run third-wicket partnership. The duo saw off the entire second session, before England clawed back with late wickets, led by spinner Dom Bess, who finished with 4-45.

But on a topsy-turvy day, Sri Lanka managed to retain a semblance of advantage, with Fernando still at the crease at stumps, unbeaten on 141.

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