The NatWest T20 Blast popularised a new method for ranking batsmen in T20s, called the 'Batting Index'. It is simply the sum of the batsman's average and strike-rate, and a batsman with a BI of about 160 is considered good.
I strongly disagree with this proposition. A batsman averaging 30 with a strike-rate of 120 is surely more useful than one averaging 10 but striking at 140. The problem is that if either of the two quantities is high, the BI shoots up.
A better way of judging a batsman would be defining the BI as the product of the average and the strike-rate. Then the only way to guarantee a high BI would be to have a high average as well as a good strike-rate. Table A gives a list of the top batsmen in T20 cricket on the basis of this newly defined Batting Index. The product has been divided by 50 to give easily comparable numbers.
It's easy to see why Chris Gayle is rated so highly as a T20 batsman. He leads the competition by a huge margin.
Similarly, a ranking for ODIs (Table B) has also been created with the top 15 batsmen (as per ICC Rankings on the 7th of June, 2014), with a slightly different algorithm. For ODIs, the Batting Index could stick to an additive model. However, since runs scored are more important than the rate at which they have been scored in ODIs, the average has been accorded 60% weightage, and the strike-rate - 40%. A minimum requirement of 50 innings was also created. Without this restriction, George Bailey would have been at the top of the table (37 innings, average of 53.12 with a strike-rate of 91.39). After imposing the restriction, Hashim Amla comes out on top. However, he has played the least number of matches as well, and this should be kept in mind before jumping to conclusions. A special mention for Kumar Sangakkara, who has played almost 100 matches more than the others, and yet figures in the top 10.
I hope this article provides some insight on what makes a good limited-overs batsman, and helps make sense of all the volumes of data that the broadcasters thrust upon us these days.
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Sourav, 18, has been an ESPNcricinfo regular for the past seven years. In his spare time, he crunches cricket data with the help of StatsGuru and Cricinfo's player profiles. His musical interests include Led Zeppelin and Red Hot Chili Peppers
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