We have all been wondering what the ECB’s new diktats about the toss and competitive pitches will mean for the county championship this year. The most noticeable difference in the first month of the tournament has been that there seem to be more draws than usual, and most of these haven’t been badly rain-affected. So far there have been 21 draws out of 27 games. I dug out the records from the first month of county championship cricket over the last ten years (2006-2015) to see if this is indeed as unusual as it seems.
Yes, there have been significantly more draws so far this year than in the corresponding period of previous years (one-sample t-test, t(9)=8.04, p<0.001). This year, 78% of games have ended in a draw; in the previous decade, an average of 43% of games in the first month end in draws. The next most draw-full first month, of the years I looked at, was in 2008, with 20 draws out of 32 games (63%). The fewest draws came in 2010, with just 8 draws in 37 games (22%).
Is this lack of results in the 2016 season due to the new toss regulations? Who knows. If only the ECB had brought in the new system for just half the games, maybe we could compare scientifically, but sadly sporting bodies don’t do randomised control trials. So for now all we can say is that 2016 is different, but we can’t prove why.