Cricket’s average-busting mathematician Tony Lewis pulls up stumps

Ross Houston
April 5, 2020

Tony Lewis, who was renowned for devising the Duckworth-Lewis rain rule for limited overs cricket, passed away at the age of 78 on Wednesday.

Lewis and fellow Mathematician, Frank Duckworth, formulated the rain rule method that was first used during the second ODI played between Zimbabwe and England in 1996-97.

The big difference between Duckworth-Lewis and previous methods was that it gave credit to sides defending a target for taking wickets as well as chasing sides for scoring runs.

In 2014, Australian professor Steven Stern became the custodian of the system, on the retirements of Duckworth and Lewis, and it is now known as the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method.

"Tony's contribution to cricket is huge", ICC general manager Geoff Allardice said in a statement. "We send our honest condolences to Tony's family".

At the 1992 World Cup things came to a head in the semi-final when South Africa's target of 22 runs from 13 balls remaining was re-calculated to 22 runs off one ball after rain.

Lewis graduated in mathematics and statistics from Sheffield University, and retired as lecturer of quantitative research methods from Oxford Brookes University.

The International Cricket Council confirmed the news on Thursday, the day after Lewis died.

This method had failed to take into consideration wickets lost by the team batting second.

The method was adopted by worldwide cricket authorities and is now maintained, and updated annually, by Australian Professor Steven Stern.

Messrs Duckworth and Lewis were awarded MBEs in 2010 for their services to cricket and mathematics, and also lent their name to a cricket-themed pop group, founded in 2009 by Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash. "The present day system of resetting targets in worldwide cricket is based on the one developed by him and Frank more than two decades ago", the ICC press release quoted Allardice as saying.

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