Mar 22, 2011

A quick look at Cricket World Cup 2011

Preliminary rounds are over. Top 8 teams have qualified to quarter finals. No surprises there. No one doubted Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies to miss the cut.

So what's next?

A lot of action. Upcoming games are must-watch as the minnows are gone and now top teams battle in knock-out rounds and results could be surprising. So find a good excuse, a comfortable couch and your best buddies to watch the teams fight it out. There’s a lot of cricket played these days. This is the cup that matters.

Here are the players and teams to watch...

  • AB de Villiers: At his peak performance since ICC Batsman of the Year award in 2009.
  • Sehwag is fired-up and is dangerous when he spends more time in the middle than in the dressing room.
  • Tendulkar has already scored two excellent centuries and should score his 100th ton in ODI and Tests during this World Cup.
  • Sangakkara is slow but steady. Not flamboyant but successful. Watch out for his contributions.
Aussie batsmen haven't scored big yet and their form remains a worry. Top Sri Lankan, Indian and South African batsmen have all found some form and are likely to score big in upcoming matches.

Indian and West Indian tails have been frail and collapsed often. Get ready for a world cup that might be decided by how the tail-enders use their bats.

BOWLERS: Spinners lead the bowling chart, with Afridi leading the pack. He’s the new Kumble. Aussies are missing their lethal bowling attack but Brett Lee is playing his last world cup like a champion.

ALL ROUNDERS: All rounder performance has been key to many world cups.
  • Viv Richards in 1979 for West Indies' victory
  • Mohinder Amarnath, Kapil Dev and Madan Lal in 1983 for India's victory
  • Steve Waugh in 1987 for Australia's victory
  • Imran Khan in 1992 for Pakistan's victory
  • Jayasuriya and Arvind de Silva in 1996 for Sri Lanka's victory
World Cups in 1999, 2003 and 2007 were decided by Australia's strong batting and bowling performance. Their batting (Ponting, Gilchrist, Waugh brothers, Bevan, Hayden) and bowling (McGrath, Warne, Lee) was superior compared to everyone else. 

In this World Cup, Yuvraj decided to prove those wrong who claimed that India is going into the World Cup without a genuine all rounder. His all round performance has been key in a couple of victories already. Kallis, the best all rounder in current ODI era, hasn’t wowed yet. Australia is known for great all rounders but notice the lack of all round performance from Aussies in this world cup (no yellow in chart below).


It is difficult to predict the winner as the top 4 teams (Australia, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka) are more or less equal, as seen in preliminary rounds where no team was invincible and no team dominated completely. So get ready to cheer a surprise winner. Its not who you think it is!

This world cup will be decided by all rounders and tail-end batsmen (to bat 50 overs). Batting and bowling strengths of top teams are more or less equal. Some have stars like Dale Steyn or Brett Lee while others have good pairs like Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.

Mar 1, 2011

Why learn R?

I'm introducing R to a few colleagues this week and want to share why learning a software like R is important... Here are a few articles that explain it well... Other reasons?

Importance of data science
- Couple years ago Google's Chief Economist Hal Varian said that the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. Read the full article (requires registration)
The ability to take data - to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it's going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.
I think statisticians are part of it, but it's just a part. You also want to be able to visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively. But I do think those skills - of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis - are going to be extremely important. Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves.
- Rise of data scientists

- Becoming a data scientist

- Essential skills for a data scientist

Where R fits?
R provides an environment for all tools needed for data science (see the data science process below from Benjamin Fry's thesis).

- R is ideal for small data analysis i.e. data that fits in a computer's RAM e.g. data < 10GB. Whereas SQL and search techniques seem good for larger data sets that can fit in one machine and techniques like Hadoop are good for BIG data sets that cannot fit in one machine.

- NY times article on R you ready for R?

- NY times article on R

- R is becoming popular