Frank Duckworth MBE 1939–2024

Fellows will be sad to learn that Frank Duckworth passed away on 21 June 2024, at the age of 84. Frank will be remembered largely for his contributions to the Society as editor of RSS NEWS, and to cricket as the co-inventor of the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Born on 26 December 1939, Frank was educated at King Edward VII School, Lytham St Anne’s and the University of Liverpool. His first degree was in physics and his PhD in metallurgy. He spent his entire working career at the Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories of the Central Electricity Generating Board, which morphed first into National Power and then Nuclear Energy plc. He was originally employed as a metallurgist but, finding he had an ability to extract useful information from masses of numerical measurements, he subsequently studied to become a statistician. He was elected a fellow of the RSS in 1974.
Frank took early retirement in late 1992 and, being only 53, was looking for interesting ways to use his time and skills. At the same time, Tony Greenfield was about to retire as editor of RSS NEWS and was seeking a successor. Frank was duly appointed and took over for the May 1993 edition. His editorship spanned 20 years, and he brought enormous energy and enthusiasm to the role. He realised that the newsletter could play a greater part than simply transmitting Society notices, by keeping fellows informed both about the Society and about the world of statistics more generally. Frank moved with the times as developments in technology brought inevitable changes to the format of RSS NEWS. In November 2009, a more frequent complementary electronic version of the newsletter was introduced, followed by a move to entirely virtual publication in 2012. Further development of the Society’s website meant that publication of RSS NEWS ceased in 2013.
At the Society’s conference in Sheffield in 1992, Frank presented a short paper ‘A fair result in foul weather’ which proposed a formula for target correction in rain-interrupted one-day cricket matches. This led to contact with Tony Lewis, a mathematics lecturer at the University of the West of England who suggested an analysis of one-day score sheets based on Frank’s proposed formula. As a result of this and subsequent research, the formula gradually evolved into the system known as the Duckworth-Lewis method. The method was first used in international cricket in the second game of the 1996–97 Zimbabwe versus England One Day International series and was formally adopted by the International Cricket Council in 1999 as the standard method of calculating target scores in rain shortened one-day matches.
Frank was a familiar and popular figure in the Society’s offices and at meetings and conferences, and he served on Council from 1995 to 2000. He was the William Guy Lecturer for Schools in 2004 and was awarded the Chambers Medal for outstanding services to the Society in the same year. He also served on the Significance Editorial Board until 2010. In the 2010 Birthday Honours List, Frank was awarded an MBE.
Our sincere condolences go out to Frank’s family and friends at this time. A full obituary will be published in a forthcoming edition of our Series A journal.
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