It’s IPL week and as the world finds a reason to put their worries aside in these pandemic times, we take a closer look at what kind of batsmen and roles are seen at the IPL. To accommodate for recency, we have taken IPL data of the last three years and done a basic clustering on it.
We found an interesting pattern emerging in that data of the 6 types of batsmen roles separated by 4 parameters. The denominator base for all of these parameters are as a fraction of overall balls faced.
a) Dot Ball Percentage
b) Non-Boundary Scoring Shot %
c) Boundary %
d) Dismissal Percentage (as a fraction of overall balls faced)
Role 1: Batsmen with lowest dot ball %, they keep working the ones and twos, but are the lowest boundary-hitters. They also play longer innings.
Role 2: Batsmen who trade in a few dot balls for scoring a few more boundaries than Role 1 players. Aggressive players, but underperforming and generally don't bat long.
Role 3: An offshoot of Role 2, but these players don’t get dismissed often and play longer innings. These players have the best averages among the lot.
Role 4: Players who need time to get set in, but are natural stroke-makers who prioritise bigger hits over ones and twos as a run-scoring option.
Role 5: Natural stroke-makers who don’t waste too many dot balls and find a way to bat longer than Role 4.
Role 6: They are improvised Role 4 players who put a lesser price on their wicket but strike boundaries at will.
So to summarise, when an IPL side is constructed for batting positions 1-7 it’s important to take a look at what kind of players are slotted in.
Role 1 and Role 3 players get you the assured runs. Role 2 players bide their time and experience to move to Role 3. Sometimes franchisees invest in players to move from Role 1 to Role 2 to Role 3
The aggressors are usually Roles 4, 5 and 6. Role 4 and 5 are gifted players since they have the ability to accelerate. Role is 5 probably the most coveted role among the batsmen, but if you can mix a bowling option to a Role 4, 5, 6 player you have an explosive-value player in the team.
So let’s have a look at a few players from each of the roles:
It’s very interesting to see patterns from fairly aggressive cricketers who have chosen to play a different game. They are part of teams that have had sluggish pitches for a season or two, or the other batsmen have not stepped up, so they have had more time to bat longer and shepherd their team to stability.
These players have a mix of lower middle-order batsmen and a few top-order batsmen. The top-order batsmen are the underperforming ones like Aaron Finch, Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal (no surprise that all of them played for the same team in Kings XI Punjab).
The lower middle-order batsmen, have performed in a few games, but have not staked their claim as consistent batsman for their teams, in the limited resources that they get to face.
The third role are players who also get a lot of love from the fans who play Daily Fantasy (where absolute runs matter the most). Despite having a indifferent run of form one has seen Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Manoj Tiwary have made it to the list.
But the bulk of this list is made by A-listers like Kane Williamson, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni who largely build innings and put a price on their wicket.
This is an interesting mix of players who largely resemble yesteryear stars who may be well past their prime, or are slightly underperforming young players who have a naturally aggressive game.
Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Parthiv Patel and Brendon McCullum feature here as yesteryear stars who don’t play for their national sides anymore, but are still available to help their teams win a game or two on their star power alone. At least that’s the hope.
The rest include upcoming dashers like Ishan Kishan, Evin Lewis and Prithvi Shaw, who are probably due a promotion to Role 5.
Role 5 players are probably the highest-skilled and most in-demand apart from Role 3. The crowds look forward to these players for their attacking strokeplay. Hashim Amla makes it despite a lesser number of games, but that’s a very interesting observation. His IPL average strike rate is a high 141 compared to his overall T20 career of 126.
The rest of the list are players that can take the game away from a team. So the worth of a Role 5 player is probably a shade higher than a Role 3 player for a team’s quest to stake a claim to the IPL title. But hold on, what if there is another variation to a Role 4 adding another dimension. Here is presenting Role 6, but it gets slightly lonely at the top, since there are just 2 players occupying those slots.
Two interesting players who have set the IPL on fire for their all-round abilities have been the Caribbean duo that play for KKR, who have had an insane amount of success clubbing the ball in the limited time they are in the middle. The fact that they can also win matches with their bowling puts them in a separate league.
So how do you think your favourite IPL team is constructed? Our guess is that in the making of a successful T20 side you need a good mix of Role 1, Role 3 players, and you need to find your X-factors or champions like Role 5 and Role 6 players. You also hope that Role 2 and Role 4 players graduate to their next levels. So having an anchor in a T20 is probably not such a bad idea to cover up for different kinds of surfaces. What do you think?
Tweet your responses with the hashtag #CricketLikeNeverBefore and let us know your thoughts.
(Written with statistical inputs from Rajesh Aravamudhan from Cricket21).