After a delay of a year, the T20 World Cup kicks off in Oman on Sunday. During the tournament build-up, Emerging Cricket has polled its contributors and readers to gather their T20 World Cup predictions. We asked for the finishing order for each first round group, with seventeen of our writers and several readers responding. We’ve crunched the numbers to provide a combined prediction.
Group A sees Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, and Namibia go head-to-head for two spots in the Super 12s. Sri Lanka enter the tournament the highest ranked side in 10th on the ICC rankings, with Ireland (12th), Netherlands (17th) and Namibia (19th) following in tow.
What do our Contributors think?
Among the Emerging Cricket writers circle, Group A is considered the ‘Group of Death’. This is widely reflected in the predictions, where no team is thought to have a clear advantage. The joint favourites are Netherands and Ireland, with 59% of our contributors predicting them to make the top two. Sri Lanka are a little bit behind with 47% of predicitions, whilst Namibia are tipped to qualify in 35% of them.
Breaking it down further reveals a curious pattern. Either Netherlands or Sri Lanka are expected to win Group A, predicted by 47% and 41% of our contributors to finish 1st. Ireland take top spot in only 12% of predictions, and Namibia are not tipped for top spot. The opposite is observed for 2nd place, with Ireland and Namibia widely tipped (47% and 35%, respectively) but Sri Lanka and Netherland considered unlikely (6% and 12%). The pattern repeats for 3rd and 4th places – Sri Lanka and Netherlands are more likely to finish 3rd in our contributors estimates, and Ireland and Namibia considered more likely to finish last.
Very few conclusions can be drawn here, though no side holds a clear advantage in the eyes of our contributors. One conclusion that can be drawn is that Sri Lanka and Netherlands appear stronger based on the number of times they were predicted to be 1st or 3rd, compared with 2nd or 4th.
To demonstrate this, we generated a weighed average prediction to give a clearer picture of a team’s likelyhood to qualify. 3 points were awarded for a 1st place prediction, 2 points for a 2nd place and so forth. The points tally was divided by the number of predictions multiplied by 3 to give a weighted average.
Under this method, the group remains close. Netherlands take a weighted score of 67%, with Sri Lanka close behind on 61%. Ireland are a little bit further back on 47%, whilst Namibia are outsiders at 25%.
What do our readers think?
Thirty-four of our readers made their predictions via Emerging Cricket’s social media platforms. When predicting Group A, our readers differ slightly from our contributors, particularly on Sri Lanka and Ireland. Whilst Netherlands are still favourites to advance among the respondents, appearing in the top two 65% of the time, Sri Lanka are 2nd in our readers’ estimations with 59%. Sri Lanka are thought to be more likely to win the group, however, with 41% of readers tipping them for 1st place, compared with 26% for the Dutch.
The Irish do not have the backing of the readers. Ireland are considered the least likely to advance with only 32% of predictions including them in the top two. This puts Ireland behind Namibia (44%) in the estimations of our readers.
Processing the numbers through our weighted average calculator results in some minor changes. Sri Lanka take top spot with a score of 65%, with the Netherlands fractions behind on 61%. Namibia and Ireland are considered slight outsiders, with scores of 40% and 34% respectively. Group A is certainly anyone’s guess.
What about a statistical model?
To provide a comparison, we chose to compare the contributors’ and readers’ predictions to those of cricket statistician and Emerging Cricket patron Tom Nielsen. Nielsen has produced a statistical model based on past match results to estimate the outcomes of upcoming games. By running upwards of 1,000 simulations, Nielsen produces probability spaces from the combined results which can be directly compared with our own.
In Group A, Nielsen’s model has Sri Lanka as clear favourites, at 51% to finish 1st and 78% to advance. Ireland are a distant second at 53%, with Namibia and Netherlands neck-and-neck at 35% and 33% to qualify.
So why is there such a discrepancy between the Emerging Cricket predictions and Nielsen’s model? Are our writers and fans allowing their hearts to come before their heads when predicting? Part of the puzzle may be that the Dutch have not played a game at full-strength in nearly two years. This may not have been accounted for in the model. Neither for that matter will be Namibia’s preparation tours against South Africa Emerging or Zimbabwe Emerging for example. The official T20 World Cup warm-ups have also not been included, although Sri Lanka performed better in these than their recent form on the full-member circuit might have suggested.
Group B takes place in Oman, with Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, and the hosts competing for two spots in the Super 12s. Bangladesh are the highest ranked team in the first round, at 6th on the T20I rankings. Scotland (14th), PNG (15th) and Oman (18th) will aim to challenge them.
What do our contributors think?
In comparison to Group A, Group B is much more clear cut in the eyes of our contributors. Bangladesh are the clear favourites to advance, with 88% of the contributors tipping them to qualify and 76% to do so in 1st place. Scotland are a clear 2nd, included in the top two 76% of the time. Oman are 3rd, with 24%, whilst PNG are considered outsiders with only 12% of our writers expecting them to qualify. None of our contributors expect Oman or PNG to win Group B.
Crunching the numbers through our weighted average calculator produces no real changes. Bangladesh’s weighted score remains at 88%, and PNG’s remains at 12%. Scotland and Oman are moved closer together, but Scotland remain favourites to advance at 67%, and Oman 33%.
What do our readers think?
Like our writers, our readers are mostly singing the same tune when it come to their Group B predictions. Bangladesh remain clear favourites, with over 90% of readers tipping them to qualify, and 74% to do so in first place. Scotland are predicted to qualify by 79% of readers, with Oman getting in the top two 24% of the time, and PNG only 3%.
With the readers largely agreeing with the writers, the weighted averages look very similar. Bangladesh’s score of 89% is followed by Scotland (67%), Oman (40%) and PNG (4%).
Although PNG finished 2nd at the 2019 Qualifier, their recent form in the CWCL2 ODIs and the T20 warm-up fixtures has lowered the expectations of our readers and contributors. On the contrary, Scotland’s good form in the lead up appears to be enough to overcome Oman’s home advantage in the eyes of those who participated.
What about a statistical model?
Returning to Tom Nielsen’s models, we see a slightly different picture. Though Bangladesh remain strong favourites, and PNG outsiders, Scotland and Oman are very close in the model. At 48% and 46% for Scotland and Oman, respectively, one might expect a very close game between the two sides on Thursday.
With relatively little T20I cricket played by either team since 2019, Scotland and Oman’s rating in Nielsen’s model is based largely on results at the 2019 World Cup Qualifier. At that tournament, Scotland finished 5th and Oman 6th, showing that the teams were, at their last outing, fairly evenly matched.
PNG’s chances are much higher in Nielsen’s model than in the readers’ and contributors’ predictions. PNG finished 2nd in the 2019 qualifier and have played very little T20I cricket since. Their losing streak in ODIs is unlikely to affect the T20I based model. However, this is not the first time Nielsen’s model has favoured PNG where the fans did not. Ahead of the 2019 Qualifier, only 7% of fans predicted PNG to qualify for the World Cup, where Nielsen gave them a 41% chance. Famously, they qualified.
To wrap up, we compare the outputs of each set of predictions side-by-side. We compared the weighted average of the predicitions sets with Tom Nielsen’s models. The established members, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are favoured in each scenario. Scotland are favoured by the fans but are less so by the statistical model, as are Netherlands, and vice versa for Ireland and Oman. Namibia and PNG appear to be outsiders to make the Super 12s.
Like all models and predictions, all this information must be taken with a pinch of salt. The inherent unpredictability of T20 and tournament cricket means even of the wisest of cricket fans will be incorrect frequently. The talking is done, and the cricket itself can take centre stage.
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