Ranking sportsmen whose careers took place in different eras is often a contentious issue and the topic of much debate. In this talk we focus on cricket and examine what conclusions may be drawn about the ranking of Test batsmen using data on batting scores from the first Test in 1877 onwards. The overlapping nature of playing careers is exploited to form a bridge from past to present so that all players can be compared simultaneously, rather than just relative to their contemporaries. An additive log-linear model with year, age and cricket-specific components is used in order to extract the innate ability of an individual cricketer. Incomplete innings are handled via censoring and a zero-inflated component is incorporated into the model to allow for an excess of frailty at the start of an innings. Inferences are made using a Bayesian approach by deploying a Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm to obtain parameter estimates and confidence intervals.
Richard Boys is an applied Bayesian statistician and leads the Statistics Research Group at Newcastle University, UK. He has worked on applications in many areas such as econometrics, screening, molecular biology, phylogenetics, rainfall models. He is a member of the Peer Review College for the UK EPSRC and was previously a member of the Council of the Royal Statistical Society and an Associate Editor for JRSSC. He is currently on sabbatical in Australia, visiting QUT, Univ of Adelaide, UNSW and Massey (NZ).