The countdown for the Indian Premier League (IPL) has kicked-off and the conversation around it has already started taking a solid shape. The discussion though seems to be a bit subdued when it comes to uncapped domestic talent.
Indian team (across formats) is at the cusp of an overhaul given its senior players are getting older and some disgruntled fans might even argue, declining in skill and form. So it becomes imperative to assess the role of uncapped domestic players in a league where they get maximum exposure and eyeballs.
We, at Cricket.com, have tried to assess the role uncapped players have played in the success or failure of IPL teams in 2022. Even though arguably a lot has changed since then. Most significant change being the ruthless ‘capping’ of players by the management, partly to manage the workload and partly to give some legitimacy to the idea of different teams for different formats.
Some would even assign it to the chaos and direction lessness of the management but we can only hope that’s not the case and move on. For this analysis, we have considered the players who were uncapped till the 2022 IPL season. A few of them, like Arshdeep Singh and Rahul Tripathi, have become more than a flash in the p(l)an.
The metric we have used to assess the roles of these players in the performance of their teams is something we call ‘Player Impact’. It is the cumulative change in the Live Win % metric caused by the player during the match. Higher the value of Player Impact, the more the player has contributed positively to the victory of his team.
After a match ends, the Player Impact for every player is calculated. This is further divided into batting and bowling Player Impact. As the name suggests, the bowling Player Impact is the impact produced by a player with his bowling.
Likewise for batting. Please note that this metric is calculated at a player level. It is possible to have a very good Player Impact for a player from the losing team.
So, the metric is established. Next we define the players into three categories - Indian uncapped players, Indian capped players, and International players, and we check the Average Player Impact.
To understand this, we check the Average Player Impact (API) produced by each category of players defined above across matches.
It is evident from this table that there were only two teams where the uncapped players created more impact than the regulars: CSK and SRH. This certainly goes on to say that the fate of a team is decided by the form of the international players (both Indian and overseas).
If we look at the winner, Gujarat Titans have the highest API for overseas players. It is no surprise given how well David Miller and Rashid Khan played. In case of two exceptions, CSK and SRH, the capped domestic players did not fire at all and this can be attributed to the dismal performance of these teams.
But does this mean that the domestic players do not contribute to the wins at all? It would be grossly unfair to make such a statement. We need to look at the batting and bowling Player Impact separately to get a more nuanced view.
The batting impact also reveals that most of the top teams needed their international (Indian and overseas) players to perform. In fact, it is true for all the teams regardless of their position in the table. But RCB is an exception (of course!). Despite having star players like Glenn Maxwell, Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis, and Dinesh Karthik, their most impactful batting performances were from the uncapped Indian players.
Driven rather by only one uncapped player - Rajat Patidar. With his 300+ runs at 150+ strike rate, he was responsible for making RCB a clear exception. His injury will certainly affect RCB but with their international batters not realizing their full potential, maybe RCB too can join the ranks of other teams in terms of batting Player Impact. Other India uncapped player who did well but their batting Player Impact gets offset due to aggregation is Rinku Singh (KKR).
Only Romario Shepherd had a better average batting Player Impact than Tripathi in SRH but please note that Shepherd played only 3 matches in the last season. The India uncapped batters do contribute to the wins but not all of them that’s why the aggregated numbers go down. At best, one such player per team will perform exceptionally well. An ideal batting line-up will have at least two uncapped players performing well but it’s not an ideal world and the bowling they face is world class. Which brings us to the bowling Player Impact.
In the first column, there are more greens and yellows when it comes to bowling Player Impact. Which means that at an aggregate level, the uncapped bowlers add a lot more value than uncapped batters. The most obvious green that seeks our attention is that of LSG. It is driven almost single-handedly by Mohsin Khan. He was the most impactful uncapped bowler by some distance in the 2022 IPL. In fact, he was the most impactful bowler overall.
So, his injury will come as a stellar blow to LSG, with Mohsin expected to miss the entire tournament. Avesh Khan, who had debuted for India by then, is nowhere to be seen near the Indian squad these days despite having a phenomenal IPL with the ball.
For GT and RR too, the bowling Player Impact for India uncapped players is not the worst. RCB, DC, and KKR are the ones with the worst uncapped Indian impact for bowlers. What’s interesting to note is that two of the top four teams had overseas bowling Player Impact as the worst of the three.
In GT, the likes of Lockie Ferguson and Alzarri Joseph had a negative average bowling Player Impact score. Holder, Stoinis, and Chameera had a negative bowling impact in LSG.
The case of CSK and SRH is also interesting here. CSK’s uncapped bowling Player Impact is driven by Mukesh Choudhary. In fact, CSK had a decent bowling impact overall except for Chris Jordan and Ravindra Jadeja who contributed to all the negative bowling Player Impact and affected the aggregate.
In SRH, the positive uncapped bowing Player Impact was driven by Umran Malik, who since then has made his Indian debut. All the other bowlers, except Sean Abbott and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, had negative bowling Player Impact. Natarajan and Sundar had the worst bowling impact numbers.
If we compare the bowling and batting impact trends, it is difficult to argue that the winning team follows any particular template in terms of utilizing the India uncapped players.
But one thing is quite evident - in the last IPL - the India uncapped players contributed more with the ball than with the bat.
The average bowling impact of uncapped Indian players was 0.95 while the average batting impact of uncapped Indian players was -0.19. This IPL is going to be a bit more interesting given that teams can use a 12th player at any stage of the game. This player is cleverly named ‘Impact Player’.
Specific skills like accuracy of yorkers, strike rate against a specific type of ball, etc. will have more value now. We have to keep our eyes open to see how the franchises use the domestic talent with this new rule. Not sure how many franchises will have domestic players as their ‘Impact Players’ but if they do, we might be in for a very exciting revelation.
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