Name cricket's most famous partnership nowadays and you can forget Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Statham and Trueman or Lillee and Thomson. Instead you have to turn to Duckworth and Lewis, the two statisticians who brought order to the one-day game when rain interfered.
These days almost every weather-truncated one-day match throughout the world is decided by the Duckworth Lewis method; this book tells the story behind it; how it came into being and how the two were sometimes pilloried in the media after commentators and correspondents failed to understand the logic behind it.
Mathematicians and keen cricket fans, Frank Duckworth, editor of RSS News, the monthly magazine of the Royal Statistical Society, and Tony Lewis, retired university lecturer in mathematical subjects, grew up within a few miles of each other in West Lancashire although they didn't know one another - indeed they had planned to call their formula the 'Lancastrian' method.
The book sets out why the method was needed and gives a full explanation of how it works. Although a computer program is needed for top games, those at a lesser level can still use the tables in the book.
But the book also shows the human side of the story, how they persuaded the cricket authorities to accept their method; the mistakes they made along the way and how they corrected them; the way they developed it to take account of changes in the way the game is played, and how they coped with increasing fame. Most of all it tells how two mathematicians were able to blend their separate skills to succeed in selling a mathematical product to a non-mathematical public.
The duo became so well known that they had a racehorse named after them and then a pop group, although they have a much more famous connection with the world of music than the group The Duckworth Lewis Method: when a student at Liverpool University in the early 1960s Frank Duckworth lodged with Aunt Mimi, the woman who brought up her nephew John Lennon!
subtle and all the better for it
? with a tweak it could have come from Graham Greene ? The method is explained at greater length than the average reader will ever require, yet the real joy in this book come from its voice, which emerges, brilliantly deadpan, from a prep school essay of the 1950s, and from its anecdotes, which peter out to glorious effect. ?In its way, Duckworth Lewis, The Method And The Men Behind It is revelatory, its pleasures subtle and all the better for it. I still don't understand the method, despite the pages of patient lecturing, and I misread the charts detailing it at the end. Me and Shaun Pollock have that in common, but I suspect neither of us - nor anyone else - holds it against them. The full review is at: http://theoldbatsman.blogspot.com/2011/04/duckworth-lewis-and-new-information.html