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June 7, 2014

A batting index for limited-overs cricket

Sourav Kumar

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.

Table A - The top T20 players in the world, classified on the basis of a Batting Index (product of batting average and strike-rate) © Sourav Kumar

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.

Table B - The top ODI players in the world, classified on the basis of a Batting Index (weighted sum of batting average and strike-rate) © Sourav Kumar

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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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Posted by Srinivasa on (August 24, 2014, 1:03 GMT)

Batting index of two notable players. Viv Richards- 64.28 - 187 matches. Sachin Tendulkar -61.39 - 463 matches One on uncovered and difficult pitches without helmet and where as other played most no.of matches against difficult bowling attacks (463) and also without new powerplay rule Still the had Batting Index of 60 + and they are no.1 and no.2 one day players of all time !!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 20, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

If the average and strike rate of the last 12 months is used instead of career average and strike rate, it could be a suitable tool for ranking.

Posted by Mohammad on (June 16, 2014, 18:42 GMT)

These batting indices seem more appropriate.

Posted by sourav on (June 15, 2014, 8:13 GMT)

@Kumara: Not really. SL have several playing their parts and contributing to the team's success. They are not over-reliant on any one player. And anyway the data includes ALL t20s played, not just T20Is. SL players play comparatively lesser of T20 leagues compared to the likes of Gayle and Finch.

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 14, 2014, 16:07 GMT)

is something missing here? SL is holding no 1 and 2 in t20 and ODI cricket. So there should be some special batsmen in SL team(actually who can win matches). A perfect rating system should be capable of ranking the match winning capability other than just few numbers that don't helps to win any match.

Literally, the teams with more top ranked batsman and bowlers should win the matches.. isnt it?

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