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Cricket news - Decoding the value of batsmen in IPL - an in-depth look

The analysis indicates AB de Villiers scores quickly and is a safe wicket as well

In the previous article in this series, the concept of contextual stats was introduced for T20s: numbers that take the phase of the innings into account, and scale traditional numbers to better reflect the value of performances. Different times in an innings call for different strategies, and thus accounting for those variations is important.

Each team was given two numbers in each phase (Powerplay, middle overs, death overs):

A relative strike rate, which is the scoring rate compared to the "average" team's scoring rate in that phase of the innings. A relative wicket rate, which reflects the chances of losing wickets, relative to the average team's chances of losing wickets in that phase.

To take a deeper look at how they performed, we can extend this treatment to each individual player. For each batsman, we can look at his strike rate in each over, compared to the average strike rate in that over. Here is what that graph looks for Rishabh Pant:

While the first four overs can be ignored because he has not faced enough balls to make a conclusion, we can see that his value is mostly above 1.00 throughout the innings. This means he scores faster than the average rate for the most part. In the middle overs, right from over 7 to over 15, he scores 20 to 30 percent faster than the par rate of scoring. At the death, he is particularly destructive, as evidenced by the tall buildings at the right end.

As we can see splitting each player's performance by overs can get tedious and detailed. What we can do to make a reading of a player's value easier is to average the run values across all the overs played. This takes into account the number of balls faced or bowled in each over. So, if a player bats more in the Powerplay, those values will get a bigger weight in the average.

This powerful number splits a player's performances, weighs them by the situations he has played in, and combines them together. We have accounted for the phase of the innings, but we also have a single number in the end, that we can use for comparison.

With this tool, let's average the run values and wicket values for batsmen in the IPL since 2014. Remember, a lower wicket value is better for a batsman: it means he is less likely to get out compared to others. On the other hand, a higher run value is better: it means he scores faster than others. These are the simple definitions of these two stats.

Let's look at this plot by classifying batsmen.

The Greats

The points on the lower right of the graph are the greats. They have a low wicket value, which means they are less likely to lose their wickets, and their scoring rates are higher than the average.

Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson are similar in style: they are old-school bats, about 40% more "safe" with their wickets, while scoring only 5% faster than the par rate.

At the far right, you have Pant, who takes more risks, and the inimitable AB de Villiers, who exceeds expectations by 24% in terms of how quickly he scores, and is a safe wicket as well, almost as much as Kohli. Andre Russell is the perfect hitter, taking risks but at the same time strikes hard. David Warner also proves his legendary IPL credentials.

The Conservatives

At the bottom left are the conservatives (unusually). The extreme example of this is MS Dhoni, who in his newest avatar scores very slowly (mostly in the middle order), but also refuses to get out. This is heavily weighed down by his performances before 2018. Jadeja's striking ability lags behind compared to the average, which must be a worry for CSK.

In the age of extreme hitting, it is debatable how useful such a player is to a T20 batting order.

The Reckless Match-Winners

Switching to the top right, we see the risk-takers who also leave an impact on the game. The usual suspects populate this region: the mercurial Maxwell, the fiery Sehwag, and the hot-and-cold McCullum.

At the far top-right is the biggest example of a dispensable pinch hitter who has come off time and again. Sunil Narine was first used by the Melbourne Renegades as a surprise hitter at the top, and KKR replicated that strategy, to much success, as we can see here. He is two times as likely to get out, but scores at a runaway 40% higher rate than others. One wonders if there is a similar use case for Rashid Khan with Hyderabad.

The Story of 2018

With this, let's have a look at the same metrics in 2018, to get a better look at how teams used their players.

MS Dhoni continued to be safe, although his rate of scoring considering the situation improved. It was the IPL of openers: Rahul, Watson and Buttler exceeded expectations by far, propelling their teams early on. Ajinkya Rahane offered no significant price on his wicket despite a lower-than-par scoring rate given the overs he batted in. His wicket value is 1.00, means he is as likely to get out as an average player. Pant and Rayudu (to the right of Gayle) were the blasters in their teams, with Rayudu playing an important part in CSK's title win. Kishan, Shaw and Russell were effectively risky pinch hitters in their teams. AB de Villiers continues to be the IPL's most valuable batsman.

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