1167-Rajitha Silva

Sports Analytics

This thesis consists of a compilation of four research papers.

Chapter 2 investigates the powerplay in one-day cricket. The form of the analysis takes a “what if” approach where powerplay outcomes are substituted with what might have happened had there been no powerplay. This leads to a paired comparisons setting consisting of actual matches and hypothetical parallel matches where outcomes are imputed during the powerplay period. We also investigate individual batsmen and bowlers and their performances during the powerplay.

Chapter 3 considers the problem of determining optimal substitution times in soccer. An analysis is presented based on Bayesian logistic regression. We find that with evenly matched teams, there is a goal scoring advantage to the trailing team during the second half of a match. We observe that there is no discernible time during the second half when there is a benefit due to substitution.

Chapter 4 explores two avenues for the modification of tactics in Twenty20 cricket. The first idea is based on the realization that wickets are of less importance in Twenty20 cricket than in other formats of cricket (e.g. one-day cricket and Test cricket). The second idea may be applicable when there exists a sizeable mismatch between two competing teams. In this case, the weaker team may be able to improve its win probability by increasing the variance of run differential. A specific variance inflation technique which we consider is increased aggressiveness in batting.

Chapter 5 explores new definitions for pace of play in ice hockey. Using detailed event data from the 2015-2016 regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL), the distance of puck movement with possession is the proposed criterion in determining the pace of a game. Although intuitive, this notion of pace does not correlate with expected and familiar quantities such as goals scored and shots taken.

Keywords: Bayesian logistic regression; WinBUGS software; Cricket; Soccer substitutions; Variance inflation