Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Baggy Blue And The Baggy Green

David Hookes famously once said: “When they give out the baggy blue cap in New South Wales, they give you a baggy green one in a brown paper bag as well to save making two presentations.” With this quote in mind, I was all prepared to write a post on whether New South Wales’ players are over-represented in the Australian cricket team, and had collated the data that I needed on it. However, then I found that a post had been written on this topic last April! This is particularly annoying because I had the idea two years ago but didn’t do anything about it. On the other hand, it means I don’t have to type as much in this post.

So to summarise the results of that post:

• New South Wales has had the highest representation of any state since 1982/83;

• However, NSW has also won the most Sheffield Shields (the domestic first-class state competition) during that time and has the largest state population - when you take these factors into account NSW does not appear to have been over-represented.

• Based on state population, Victoria has been under-represented.

But all is not lost - from doing my analysis, I do have some things to add to these conclusions. Note that my analysis was only done for players picked since 1990, but most of the main conclusions still hold.

The author of the aforementioned post says that they don’t particularly like the ‘state population’ method for determining over-representation because people move around states to seek better opportunities. I noticed that the larger states (NSW, Vic, Qld) tended to be under-represented, and the smaller states (WA, SA, Tas) tended to be over-represented. I figured this might be because each state has different populations but only 11 spots each in their state side. So I had a look at Test representation by state of birth. Once you do that, Victoria is less under-represented than they are based on which team the player was in at the time they were picked for the Test side (although Queensland became even more under-represented), while the smaller states became less over-represented. So a relative lack of opportunity for selection in your state side if you are born in the larger states compared to if you are born in the smaller states appears to explain part of the results by state population.

Percentages of test cricketers based on state playing for when first picked (since 1990) - percentage of males aged 19-39 in 2011 in brackets

NSW - 29% (33%)

WA - 18% (11%)

Vic - 15% (26%)

Qld - 15% (21%)

SA - 13% (7%)

Tas - 10% (2%)

Percentages of test cricketers based on state of birth (since 1990) - percentage of males aged 19-39 in 2011 in brackets

NSW - 37% (33%)

Vic - 23% (26%)

WA - 14% (11%)

Qld - 13% (21%)

SA - 8% (7%)

Tas - 6% (2%)

Still, cricketers in WA and Tassie have fared better in terms of selection than their representation in Australia’s population would suggest, and that may have something to do with their share of Shield victories. (Tassie cricketers fare even better when you take as the benchmark Tassie’s share of Australia’s males aged between 19 and 39.)

When you look at share of Tests played by state of birth, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia all do relatively poorly, but the results can be heavily influenced by a few players; for example, Ricky Ponting alone has far exceeded Tasmania’s predicted share of Tests.

So as much as it hurts to say for a Victorian, NSW’s degree of representation in the Test team over the years looks to have been fair enough.

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