WASP: Sky Sports’ Gift To cricket

For several decades we have seen projected scores displayed by the sports channel while watching cricket but Sky Sports has offered a completely new system of projecting scores and the winner in the form of WASP. During the first ODI between India and New Zealand viewers were highly fascinated by WASP and then a highly engaging discussion caught up on twitter which made the hashtag #WASP become a trending topic for an entire day. While half of the twitter population was wondering what the term means, the other half was busy giving the answers.


1. What WASP really means?

Winning And Score Prediction abbreviated as WASP is an algorithm of projecting the total score during the first inning and the probability of the batting team being victorious during the second inning.WASP involves more of calculation and less of prediction of which team is going to win the match. It involves several factors such the past performances of the teams. The system also takes several other factors such as pitch condition, size etc. into consideration. It is an analytical way of projecting what would happen in a match. And of course, it is not essential that it will always be right but it takes all ideal conditions into account.

What WASP really means? - WASP: Sky Sport’s Gift To cricket

2. How does it work?

This model uses dynamic programming to estimate how the match is going to unfold. The algorithm used in first innings primarily uses the number of wickets and balls remaining while in the second inning the target score, runs scored at a point and the batsmen remaining are the key factors. This is how Dr. Seamus Hogan (one of the creators of WASP) described how the algorithm worked:

Let V(b,w) be the expected additional runs for the rest of the innings whenb (legitimate) balls have been bowled and w wickets have been lost, and let r(b,w) and p(b,w) be, respectively, the estimated expected runs and the probability of a wicket on the next ball in that situation. We can then write

V(b,w) =r(b,w) +p(b,w) V(b+1,w+1) +(1-p(b,w)))V(b+1,w)Since V(b*,w)=0

Where b* equals the maximum number of legitimate deliveries allowed in the innings (300 in a 50 over game), we can solve the model backwards. This means that the estimates for V(b,w) in rare situations depends only slightly on the estimated runs and probability of a wicket on that ball, and mostly on the values of V(b+1,w) and V(b+1,w+1), which will be mostly determined by thick data points. The second innings model is a bit more complicated, but uses essentially the same logic.”

How does it work? - WASP: Sky Sport’s Gift To cricket

3. What it means to us?

Although it isn’t a safe bet to rely upon WASP for being 100% accurate but we should not forget that statistics form a major part of cricket. A good team is more likely to defy all odds and win a game while an average team might let go of its winning position by committing an unintentional mistake. A game changing situation can indeed be predicted based on past performances and there is always a good chance that a cricket game turns out exactly to be what we have projected.

What it means to us? - WASP: Sky Sport’s Gift To cricket

4. How well has it done in the past?

Sky Sport had first introduced WASP in late 2012 during a domestic tournament. The idea was to offer something new to the game of cricket. Here’s an example of how the projections of WASP turned out in a match between New Zealand and England:

During the first inning WASP consistently projected a score between 250 and 260 for the England team and they made 258 runs. During the second inning the projection shifted from a 60% situation to a 50% chances of New Zealand winning the match. The match turned out to be a close shave for both the teams where any of the team could have won.

This example simply proves one point that we cannot trash the algorithm as it is fairly accurate in making projections. A statistician will always debate over its complexity but WASP has indeed justified what it is claiming to do.

How well has it done in the past? - WASP: Sky Sport’s Gift To cricket

5. WASP and betting

Another thing to note about WASP will be its influence in the betting field. With time it will definitely affect the decisions that people make while betting. Moreover it might also imbalance the trade of the bookies if more and more people start going according to the predictions made by WASP.  Only time will answer how well the projections turn out. The developers of WASP have worked on the system only to ensure accurate projections and if they are successful with their efforts betting will surely be affected.

WASP and betting - WASP: Sky Sport’s Gift To cricket

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