Cricket is a unique sport in that it has three formats, each distinct from the another. Test cricket is a marathon that places a premium on longevity, discipline and endurance, Twenty20 is a sprint where explosive power is key, while the 50-over game is somewhere in between.
But the metrics used to measure performances have remained the same: averages, strike-rates, economy rates. While they are all useful measures, they often don't tell the whole story because they lack context.
Smart Stats fills that gap, analysing batting and bowling performances by taking into account the context in which they occurred.
What is Smart Stats?
Smart Stats is a new way of looking at numbers, by adding context to every performance, batting or bowling. Context includes pitch conditions, quality of opposition, and match situation - in terms of the pressure on the player.
Smart Stats thus measures the true value of every batting or bowling performance.
Why do we need Smart Stats?
Any keen follower of cricket knows that all runs scored and wickets taken are not the same. A run scored under pressure, with the match in the balance, against a top opposition means much more than a run scored in a simpler situation. Similarly, getting someone like Virat Kohli out cheaply means a lot more than getting a tailender's wicket. Smart Stats makes these distinctions, and puts context to these numbers.
What are the new set of metrics?
- Smart runs
- Smart wickets
- Smart strike rate
- Smart economy rate
- Batting/bowling/match impact
Can you explain each?
Smart Runs: The runs scored, taking context into account. So, a 30-ball 45 might be worth 50 or 40, depending on when the innings was played and the relative worth of the runs.
Smart Wickets: The true value of wickets taken. This is calculated taking into account the quality of the batsman, when the batsman was dismissed - early in his innings or late - and the match context at the time, depending on whether the game was in the balance or if the result was already a foregone conclusion.
Smart Strike-Rate: Smart Runs divided by balls faced
Smart Economy Rate: Smart Runs conceded by overs bowled
Impact: Every batting and bowling performance gets an impact value, based on the Smart Runs, Smart Strike-Rate, Smart Wickets, and Smart Economy Rate. The match impact for a player is the sum of his batting and bowling impact numbers.
How does this algorithm help reveal the really good performances which may not be obvious just from the scorecard numbers?
Smart Stats takes into account the pressure on a batsman and bowler at each ball, and helps identify the periods when the batting/bowling team were under pressure, and rewards performances during those phases suitably.
Take, for instance, Jasprit Bumrah's bowling returns of 2 for 32 against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2020. Three bowlers from Mumbai Indians had better numbers in terms of raw figures, but according to Smart Stats, not only was Bumrah the most impactful bowler of the match, but also, marginally, the most impactful player of the game.
That is all because of context. Bumrah's first three overs went for a mere five runs, and included the wickets of Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell. His last over went for 27, but by then the match was already in the bag, and those runs conceded didn't count for much. According to Smart Stats, his 32 runs conceded converted into only 24.8 Smart Runs, indicating he did very well when the pressure was relatively high. Rohit Sharma was named Man of the Match for his 54-ball 80, but in terms of impact he was marginally behind Bumrah.
So does that mean the actual leaders in Smart Runs and Smart Wickets in earlier IPL seasons could be different from the Orange Cap and Purple Cap holders?
Yes, it does. According to Smart Numbers, David Warner had a slightly higher Smart Runs aggregate than Virat Kohli in 2016, despite Kohli's aggregate of 973, which was 125 more than Warner's 848. Similarly, in five of the last seven seasons, the bowler who took the Purple Cap wasn't the leader in terms of Smart Wickets.
Can we select the Man of the Match from Smart Stats?
Yes, we can. The Smart Contribution numbers from each game basically splits the contributions from each team within a total score of 100. That gives the top performers from each team, which can be used to nominate the Man of the Match.