Are we scared to lose the Underdog Effect?

Warning: More ‘Discussion piece’ with assumptions.

In the girls cricket pathway Relative Age Effect (RAE) is weaker than the boys pathway (assumption, no evidence?) yet there appears to be a significant RAE Reversal (RAER) in senior cricket. This is in terms of average career length for England Women in ODI & T20 cricket. Does this suggest that a ‘smoothing’ of RAE in the boys pathway would have little or no negative impact on RAER experienced in the England Men’s team? There would still likely be a RAER through the Underdog Effect.

‘Smoothing’ could be simply using Age Ordered Shirts during pathway trials, especially early in the pathway, or it could be flexible quotas (5 year rolling averages?).

Other benefits would include:

Basic equity of opportunity

Less Q1 inefficiencies (many lost in early pro years)

Potentially more Q4 super-elites (RAER)

Less Q4 dropout

An International competitive edge

What this doesn’t take account of:

Maturation - RAE and Maturation are two entirely independent constructs. Maturation can have more of an effect than RAE, either way (amplify, reduce).

Other ages - training, psychosocial

Genetic factors

But for most early developmental selection points (trials) we’re not taking account of those (enough) anyway.

We worry about the unintended consequences of adjusting the system but ignore the unintended consequences of organising cricket by academic year.

Rob Reed
Rob Reed

Interested in Relative Age Effects & Maturation in Player Id & Development 🏏 #OneMoreSummer