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September 8, 2010

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ODI batsmen: a totally new look through BCG charts

Anantha Narayanan

This article is a completely different graphical look at the ODI batsmen and has been inspired by the work done by my friend Arvind Iyengar who did a similar analysis in a cricketing site to which we both contribute. I have done some significant changes and increased the scope of analysis.

Bruce Henderson of BCG (Boston Consulting group) had created these charts during 1968 to study the Growth-Share aspects of products/business units. This is an excellent way to study two related variables together. These are plotted on a graph which is split into four equal (or unequal) size quadrants. The placement of a particular product, in this case, the batsman, gives excellent insight into the batsman's position in the galaxy of batsmen.

Arvind had drawn the chart between Batsman strike rate and Batting average. I felt that the Batting average was a wrong variable since that is arrived at by multiplying Strike rate and Average balls per innings. Consequently the Strike rate is represented in both X and Y axis. hence I have changed the Axis variables to Strike rate and Average balls per innings.


The above represents a typical BCG chart. The batsmen in the top-right quadrant, the red one, are the "Top performers". They are to the right of the Strike rate line and above the Average balls per innings line. The ones in the bottom right quadrant, the green one, are the "Dashers". They score quite fast but do not last for many balls. Certainly an asset, but could do better. Similarly, the top left quadrant, the blue one, contains the "Stayers". They last long but score relatively slowly. They are probably more valuable in the ODI game. However the dashers are likely to be more valuable in the T20 game. The bottom left quadrant, the orange one, represents the "Also rans". They fall behind in both areas.

A few things are to be made clear. I have used the Average balls per played innings rather than the balls per dismissed innings. This is to make the analysis fairer across all batsmen since the later measures would benefit the middle order a lot, possibly out of proportionately.

The other thing is that the two central dividing lines can be drawn in two ways. One is to draw the same right in the middle. However this does not take into account the distribution of values. The alternative method is to draw the lines around the median value so that we get around half the batsman on top of the mid line of the Average balls per innings and around half the batsmen to the right of the mid line of the Strike rate line. This leads to unequal quadrants but would make analysis of the batsmen far more meaningful. Let me add that the drawing of the asymmetrical central lines is my own idea and most of the BCG charts have only centrally located divider lines. However my idea of asymmetrical dividing lines ensures a fairer distribution of players across quadrants.

Finally the chart is drawn on two criteria. The top run getters and the top batting averages are used as different criteria, the minimum runs requirement for the later selection being 2500.

The first chart is drawn with the runs scored as the criteria. 6500 runs are the cut-off for selection. Anything fewer will clutter up the graph. Already I feel we are over-populated. The median Strike rate is around 76 and the median Average balls is just short of 45. The dividing lines are drawn around these figures. These lines split the distribution approximately equally on either side. Let us now look at the chart. At the end I have also shown the alternate graph in which the dividing lines are drawn right in the middle.

Graph of runs scored
© Ananth Narayanan


The "Top performers" are led by Tendulkar and include Ponting, Lara, Mark Waugh, Saeed Anwar and Richards. It is difficult to question the credentials of any of these ODI greats. Gayle just about falls short of breaking in. The "Dashers" group is led by Gilchrist, Sehwag, Jayasuriya, Gayle and Yuvraj. Quite a few attacking batsmen also fill this group. The "Stayers" group is led by Haynes and is followed by Kallis, Ganguly, Miandad and a few others. The strugglers group, the "Also rans", has Border, Fleming and Azharuddin as the prominent members. Andy Flower and Sangakkara are in this group but are quite close to the central point. Sangakkara could move out of this group by either increasing his scoring rate or average balls.

The second chart is drawn with the Batting average as the criteria. 40.00 is the cut-off with a minimum of 2500 runs. The median Strike rate is around 76 and the median Average balls is around 46. The dividing lines are drawn around these figures. These lines split the distribution approximately equally on either side. Let us now look at the chart. The selected batsmen are distributed around the whole graph quite well. Hence the mid-point graph is not necessary. It will be almost the same as this one.

Graph of batting average
© Ananth Narayanan


The "Top performers" are Tendulkar, Zaheer Abbas, Hayden and Ponting. No one else is even on the border. Richards leads in the "Dashers" group and is followed by de Villiers, Dhoni, Hussey and Pietersen. Greenidge and Haynes top the "Stayers" group which also has Jones, Ganguly and Bevan. The last "Also ran" group has very few members. Even amongst these, Sarwan, Clark and Martyn are very close to the centre line of the Strike rate. It is easy to conclude that once we select batsmen with averages of 40.00 it is difficult to find really average performers. They compensate for deficiency in one with the other. Lara, Sarwan, Clark and Mohd Yousuf are quite close to the central point.

I had also drawn the charts for the top players by Strike rate. This is quite a lop-sided graph since there is a huge gap between the strike rates of the top batsmen (113, 103, 96 ...). Surprisingly many of these players have fairly high Balls per innings. Hence the graph is heavy with players on the left side.

Graph of strike rate
© Ananth Narayanan


In addition, I had also drawn the charts for the top players by Average balls played. This is also quite a lop-sided graph since there is a huge gap between the balls played values of the top batsmen (67, 62, 57 ...). Surprisingly many of these players have decent strike rates. Hence the graph is heavy with players on the bottom.

Graph of average balls played
© Ananth Narayanan


To view/down-load the graph of top run-makers with an equal quadrant size split, please click/right-click here. The graph is self-explanatory. As I feared, this is a totally unacceptable presentation. Just one player, Tendulkar makes it to the "Top performers" group.

I will next do a similar analysis on ODI bowlers. The intriguing feature in this graph will be that for both Bowling strike rate and Bowling Rpo, the lower the value is the better the bowler. In other words, the quadrants will exchange their significance. Readers are welcome to give their suggestions.

An important announcement to the readers. In one of my comments I had mentioned that I would create an open mail id to which readers could send their suggestions. To start with I would appreciate if readers can send in their suggestions on which batting and bowling performances in the third innings can be considered. I will complete my work and depending on the reader responses will incorporate a few popular performances amongst these. Please note that this is a one-to-one communication and the contents will not be published. Please continue to use the blog posting method for the comments you want to be published. This is not my mail id and has been created only for this purpose. To separate the spam, it will be a nice idea if all readers can follow a simple idea of making their title as "It Figures Blog: ..............".

The mail id is ananth.itfigures@gmail.com

Since the readers would have to use a mail route I give the readers my assurance that the mail id is safe and will never be used by me for anything other than communicating with the reader specifically. This will not be part of any group mail nor will mails be cc'd.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Posted by Thejana on (July 10, 2011, 13:22 GMT)

Ananth, While appreciating your work, I must suggest something important. Players stats have to be adjusted as they are from different eras. For instance you can't compare the likes of Viv Richards of seventies and eighties era with someone like jayawardena or sehwag who started playing after odi's got revolutionized as a batsman's game on flat dead wickets with super fast outfields. we all know that during Viv's era the acceptable SR was quite low though he had it over 90. Modern day cricket is different, SR of 80 is pretty much the cut off value.So you have to generalize these stats by a correction factor first for each player. Then only you can include to the BCG chart to compare. I would love to do that given that I've got enough time, but since you guys are very much into this I would like to see a modified chart from you.

Cheers Anand, nice innovative analysis!

Posted by Kartikeya on (September 17, 2010, 21:41 GMT)

To add to my earlier comment about Tendulkar the Opener, his average balls faced goes from 47.3 to 51.4 - almost a full over...

Posted by Kartikeya on (September 17, 2010, 21:14 GMT)

Dear Ananth, I've tried to do something similar, and one of things that strikes me about someone like Tendulkar - especially Tendulkar, is that his career as an opening batsman deserves to be treated separately from his overall career.

Overall, Tendulkar's numbers are imposing - 17,598 runs at 45.12, striking at 86.26, over 442 games. But Tendulkar's record as opening batsman is even more imposing, and whats more, longer than a lot of players full careers 323 games, 14482 runs at 48.92, with a strike rate of 88.19

It's probably worth considering Tendulkar the Opener separately from Tendulkar the ODI player.

Posted by rajan on (September 16, 2010, 12:23 GMT)

besides RPI and SR can it be taken a factor to determine the player's impact in a game by the percentage of runs scored by him to the overall runs scored by his team in that match? could it bring out more facts? [[ Rajan Not really. I have done this anlysis only at career level and match level numbers do not come in. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Abhi on (September 14, 2010, 5:14 GMT)

Ananth, further to all the comments about openers/batting positions etc. A more accurate assessment would be "batting order wise peer ratios".i.e openers,middle order,lower middle order. My gut feeling is, contrary to some comments like those from fahad,that the likes of Tendulkar,Haydos would actually come out even better off. [[ Abhi When I did the Test peer comparisons, I did batting position level comparisons also. It is possibly necessary to do that for ODIs also in depth. Ananth: ]]

Posted by fahad on (September 12, 2010, 20:56 GMT)

Thanks for the response Anand. In your response to RameshKumar, you justify using balls per innings rather than balls per dismissal by pointing out that middle order batsman are likely to have higher strike rates, so while the vertical axis variable might disadvantage them, the horizontal axis variable is in their favor. However, don't you think that strike rates are higher both at the start and end of an innigs. Powerplays are a recent innovation, earlier we used to have the 15 over rule...and fifteen overs are a big chunk of the innings. So I think your graphs are a little biased towards top order batsman by giving them an advantage due to verticle variable, while the horizontal variable does not necessarily advantage middle order batsman. Does using balls per dismissal change the results much ? [[ Fahad Whatever we do, there is going to be some set of players who readers will find hard done by. Everything can be questioned. Openers task is easier or harder ??? Are Powerplays beneficial to batting team or not (my conclusion is No). Is it a benefit to come in for the last part and swing, hoping for the best. The 27* scores, do they compensate for this requirement. Finally I will conclude with one statement. Irrespective of the position they bat in, Sehwag, Afridi, Hayden, Gilchrist, Jayasuriya are going to have one approach. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Aniket on (September 12, 2010, 17:14 GMT)

An amazing post! really appreciate u guys!!

Posted by Chase on (September 12, 2010, 15:58 GMT)

Would this tool be as useful if we extend it to the players who are currently playing? I was hoping to find out if it could be used as an indicator of form, if you used a qualification like runs more than 1500 in the last 50 games.

Could this also be done for a single tournament? If yes, none of us would be surprised if the Man Of the Series was a top performer but it'd show us the other contenders who often go unnoticed. [[ Narayan The answer to all the questions is "Yes". The only thing is that nothing would come out if it is done as an academic exercise. Probably I could try this on a trial for the CL10. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Alex on (September 11, 2010, 22:40 GMT)

Amit - to continue this digression, I guess if the women needed a successful Mumbai cricketer to go ga-ga over, Tatyarao Vengsarkar was the more handsome choice! Still, RJS was a tough poster-child for not letting celebrity affect your game - he continued to play and stay within his limits whereas Azhar (who really was an equal of Zaheer Abbas) disintegrated within his first year itself.

IMO, VVS is an all-time top 5 Indian test-cricket batsmen and deserved a stable run in ODIs at #3 after Sehwag arrived. How an outstanding thinker such as Greg Chappell got it so wrong as the Team India coach is a mystery. [[ Alex/Amit Can be revert to the topic on hand. Ananth: ]]

Posted by Amit on (September 11, 2010, 16:33 GMT)

Alex, I think you are jealous of Shastri, because he women were gaga over him :-) Yes, Azhar's 93 was an extraordinary knock against a rampant Imran in tough foreign condition. He hit some breathtaking boundaries on backfoot on a fast bouncy track. Unfortunately, he rarely ever delivered (I tend to remember Test match knock more) against good bowling attacks in 'unfriendly' soil after that. A century in adeilede in 91 (in an otherwise woeful series) and another one in SA with Tendulkar were sprinkled between way too many failures. People tend to compare Laxman with Azhar (style and numbers), but in my books there is no comparison. Sorry for digressing again, but I have to do my part to put Azhar back down where he belongs! Amit

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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