ODIs September 8, 2010

ODI batsmen: a totally new look through BCG charts

A look at top ODI batsmen using BCG charts

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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