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Harmer
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Warm-up for IPL 2020 yet ?

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IPL - A measure of players' return on investments

June 19 2020


Teams often make or break their fortunes in auctions much before the on-field action kicks off
The Indian Premier League was a pioneer in franchise cricket and a dozen of years since its inception, it has evolved as the world's best run franchise T20 tournament. It is unrivalled in terms of talent pool, quality of cricket on display, prize money on offer and the overall razzmatazz. One of the distinct features of the league is the way it distributes players among various franchises involved - the auction.

Not just the players themselves, the teams often make or break their fortunes in these auctions much before the on-field action kicks off. But how can one measure the Return on Investment (RoI) on the money spent on a particular player? Is one worth the amount he is invested in? It is next to impossible to measure the intangibles one can offer in the game of cricket - such as the brand value and marketability a player brings to the franchise, the tactical acumen one brings to the table and likewise. Through this exercise, we try to answer the question on the value of a player by quantifying the two basic tangible parameters - runs scored and wickets taken.

The methodology

The runs scored and wickets taken is passed through the prism of batting strike rate and economy rate respectively, which is then adjusted relative to the tournament average to arrive at notional values on which the price/run and price/wicket is calculated. The batsmen with a higher strike rate or a lower economy rate compared to the overall tournament average, as often two of the most important aspects of T20 cricket, is thus rewarded accordingly. It is calculated season-wise and the weighed average is taken to measure the overall impact across six seasons.

The salary distribution in IPL is directly dependent on player availability throughout a season (considering national commitments of overseas players). Once a player is available, the franchise can deduct from his salary (the amount for which he was bought in the auction), 20% to 50% depending on his selection to the playing XI and his injury track record. For the purpose of this exercise, we assume a player is available and injury free throughout the season and his salary will be proportional and dependent only to the number of matches he plays.

For example, if a player was bought for ten crores in the auction and if he features in seven games of the 14 matches played by his team in the season, his salary for the season is calculated as:

(Matches played by the player/Total matches played by the franchise) * Sum paid in auction

Salary = (7/14) * 10 cr = 5 cr

In reality, he could receive up to nine crores depending on the reason of his non-selection for the seven matches.

The analysis is applicable for the six seasons starting from 2014. It was in 2014 that the rule came which made it mandatory all the players had to be bought in the auction, including the uncapped ones. For the replacement players, their base price in the auction is considered. In the case of players whose actual salary differ from the amount the purse is deducted for the franchise, the latter is considered.

Batsmen with best price/run returns

While most of the big-ticket buys are placed at the wrong end of the price per run table, David Warner is a notable exception
While most of the big-ticket buys are placed at the wrong end of the price per run table, David Warner is a notable exception
Batsman Team(s) Mat Runs Price/Run
Lendl Simmons MI 29 1079 0.11
Parthiv Patel RCB, MI 72 1642 0.47
Kane Williamson SRH 41 1302 0.51
Suryakumar Yadav KKR, MI 84 1544 0.52
Nitish Rana MI, KKR 46 1085 0.64
Quinton de Kock Delhi, RCB, MI 47 1450 0.75
JP Duminy Delhi, MI 44 1051 0.78
Dwayne Smith CSK, GL 56 1528 0.81
David Warner SRH 71 3271 0.87
Jos Buttler MI, RR 45 1386 0.90
KL Rahul SRH, RCB, KXIP 62 1957 0.97
* Qual: 1000+ runs; Price/Run in INR lakhs

Lendl Simmons leads the list with 0.11 lakhs per run scored. He came into the Mumbai Indians side in 2014 as a replacement for Jalaj Saxena and was instrumental in turning the side's fortune in 2014 and 2015 after enduring poor runs at the start of both the seasons. Despite two good seasons on the bounce, he struggled to find a place in the starting XI after the entry of Jos Buttler in 2016.

Simmons forged a successful opening partnership with Parthiv Patel, who joined Mumbai's ranks in 2015. The pair has scored 854 runs at the top of the order for the franchise at 44.95 - the most by an opening pair for the team in IPL. Parthiv was Mumbai's leading run getter in their successful 2017 campaign scoring 395 runs. He has consistently averaged between 0.33 and 0.68 lakhs per run scored in the last six seasons and has been a good value for money pick for his franchises, his wicketkeeping skills being a bonus in the bargain.

While most of the big-ticket buys are placed at the wrong end of the price per run table, David Warner is a notable exception. After five middling seasons with Delhi Daredevils where he averaged 28.70, Sun Risers Hyderabad bought him for 5.50 crores in 2014. In the five seasons since (he did not feature in 2018), he aggregated 500+ runs each time and was the Orange Cap winner thrice (2015, 2017 & 2019), besides leading Sun Risers to their only title win in 2016. It came as little surprise when the franchise retained him for 12.50 crores in 2018.

KL Rahul has grown leaps and bounds from an uncapped novice in SRH to the kingpin of Kings XI's batting lineup. Kings XI broke the bank to acquire his services in 2018 and unlike the other big ticket buys of that auction, he was one player who justified his selection with the sheer volume of runs he accumulated for them at the top of the order.

Batsmen with worst price/run returns

Yuvraj Singh won record bids in both 2014 and 2015 but never really took off in the IPL
Yuvraj Singh won record bids in both 2014 and 2015 but never really took off in the IPL
Batsman Team(s) Mat Runs Price/Run
David Miller KXIP 61 1334 3.97
Shane Watson RR, RCB, CSK 79 1790 3.78
MS Dhoni CSK, RPS 94 2188 3.65
Rohit Sharma MI 91 2385 3.53
Yuvraj Singh RCB, Delhi, SRH, KXIP, MI 62 1275 3.51
Gautam Gambhir KKR, Delhi 66 1746 3.29
Dinesh Karthik Delhi, RCB, GL, KKR 90 1913 2.95
Virat Kohli RCB 84 3139 2.81
Suresh Raina CSK, GL 94 2566 2.59
Shikhar Dhawan SRH, Delhi 91 2728 2.43
Glenn Maxwell MKXIP, Delhi 64 1355 2.32
It has to be noted that some of the players in the above table play multiple roles for the franchises they played for, but the above considers only the runs scored. Rohit, Kohli and Gambhir have led their teams while Dhoni and Karthik have also kept wickets in addition to leading their teams. Shane Watson was billed as an all-rounder at least till 2017 though his bowling prowess waned of late. In the 2019 season, he did not bowl a single ball.

The batsmen with the highest price per run are mostly the players retained by the franchises in the lead up to major auctions. The notable exception being Yuvraj Singh who played for five different franchises in six seasons. He won record bids in both 2014 (14 crores) and 2015 (16 crores) but never really took off in the IPL when compared with his exploits in international cricket. In 2015, for Delhi he scored just 248 runs in 14 matches at a disappointing strike rate of 118 shooting up the price/run value to 7.21 for the season - his worst in any season.

David Miller was Kings XI Punjab's biggest player retained in 2014 thanks to his exploits in the previous season. True to the trust of the franchise, he had a brilliant 2014 where he played a crucial hand in the team's run to the finals. However, his fortunes dwindled post 2014 averaging just 26.12 at a strike rate of 126. The 2016 season was extremely detrimental when Miller scored only 161 runs in 14 innings at 16.10, this after punching a hole of 12.50 crores in his franchises' purse.

Dhoni dons multiple hats for the franchises he represents - that of a batsman, a captain, a wicketkeeper, in addition to being the face of the team. The purview of this exercise is limited to only the first of those and Dhoni the batsman has proved to be expensive to the franchises he played for. He had three middling seasons on the bounce between 2015 and 2017 which has shot up the price/run parameter to 3.65 though two good successive seasons with Chennai in the last two years has nullified the inflation to a reasonable extent.

Shane Watson was Rajasthan Royals' big-ticket retention (12.50 crores) in the lead up to 2014 IPL after winning his second MVP award in the previous season. He had two modest seasons with them in the two years that followed before the franchise was suspended. Watson was the most expensive buy of the 2016 auction when Royal Challengers Bangalore bought him for 9.50 crores. He suffered his leanest period in the next two years where he averaged a paltry 13.16 with the bat with a highest score of 36. Chennai Super Kings bought him in 2018 for four crores and he had two fruitful seasons with them so far that includes top scoring in two finals for them. Watson's returns vary from 0.84 lakhs per run for CSK in two seasons compared to 7.50 for RCB and 3.97 for RR for the same sample size of two seasons each.

Bowlers with best price/run returns

Mumbai Indians' left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan has given the best returns with the ball
Mumbai Indians' left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan has given the best returns with the ball
Bowler Team(s) Mat Wkts Price/Wkt
Mitchell McClenaghan MI 56 71 3.04
Imran Tahir Delhi, RPS, CSK 55 79 4.02
Sandeep Sharma SRH, KXIP 75 87 8.47
Dhawal Kulkarni RR, GL 57 50 11.63
Yuzvendra Chahal RCB 83 100 12.86
Siddarth Kaul Delhi, SRH 39 45 14.77
Ashish Nehra CSK, SRH 34 47 16.61
Jasprit Bumrah MI 75 79 18.26
Umesh Yadav KKR, RCB 72 76 23.48
Mohit Sharma CSK, KXIP 70 71 30.44
* Qual: 40+ wickets; Price/Wkt in INR lakhs

The bowler giving the best returns with the ball is Mumbai Indians' left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan - every wicket of him costing 3.04 lakhs each. He was bought by the franchise in 2015 for a meagre sum of 30 lakhs prior to the 2015 edition and he finished as franchise's most successful in the next three years (in which they won two titles) with 54 wickets, 16 more than any other. Despite the feats, he was not retained ahead of the 2018 mega auction, but he came back as an injury replacement for Jason Behrendorff. In the six editions since 2014, no other overseas seamer has taken more scalps than McClenaghan's 71 which came at an impressive strike rate of 17.9 balls per wicket.

Imran Tahir has represented three teams in the last six years and he wasn't the original choice for two of those. He went unsold in 2014 and 2017 auctions and was getting picked as replacement by Delhi Daredevils in 2014 and Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017. Despite being at the top of ICC rankings in T20 Internationals, Chennai took him for a base price of one crore in 2018 auction and in the following year he finished as the Purple Cap winner with 26 wickets. Across the six editions, Tahir has picked 79 wickets which is the most among overseas bowlers and second most among spinners which gives him a value of 4.02 lakhs per wicket taken.

Only two bowlers have picked a minimum of ten wickets in each of the last six seasons of IPL - Sandeep Sharma and Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal was nabbed by the Bengaluru franchise for a measly 10 lakhs in 2014 and his stocks have been on the rise ever since. Only Bhuvneshwar Kumar has picked more wickets than Chahal in the last six years in IPL. Chahal picked 70 wickets in the four seasons between 2014 and 2017 and he was brought back in 2018 using RTM for six crores - a whopping increase of 60 times the previous price.

Sandeep Sharma on the other hand has almost gone under the radar despite picking more wickets (87) than any bowler apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Chahal in the last six seasons. He was picked by Kings XI for 85 lakhs in 2014 and he picked 63 wickets for them in the next four seasons becoming their new ball specialist. In 2018, he moved to Sun Risers for three crores and picked 12 wickets each in 2018 and 2019.

Two bowlers that narrowly miss the 40 wickets cut-off are Shreyas Gopal (38 wickets) and Deepak Chahar (33 wickets). Both were purchased for less than a crore and has reaped rich dividends for the franchises - Gopal's 38 wickets costing 0.92 lakhs each and Chahar's 3.74 lakhs each.

Bowlers with worst price/run returns

Jaydev Unadkat was not retained after any of the seasons and appeared in each of the last six auctions
Jaydev Unadkat was not retained after any of the seasons and appeared in each of the last six auctions
Bowler Team(s) Mat Wkts Price/Wkt
Shane Watson RR, RCB, CSK 79 44 83.70
Ravindra Jadeja CSK, GL 92 69 70.06
Sunil Narine KKR 79 76 67.51
Jaydev Unadkat Delhi, KKR, RPS, RR 49 54 59.86
R Ashwin CSK, KXIP 72 61 53.65
Andre Russell KKR 57 54 43.93
Krunal Pandya MI 55 40 42.99
Chris Morris Delhi, RR 45 54 41.24
Axar Patel KXIP, Delhi 82 71 38.79
Karn Sharma SRH, MI, CSK 49 43 37.90
The bowler's list for worst returns are mostly occupied by all-rounders - at least seven of them can claim to be belonging to the ilk, barring Unadkat, Ashwin, and Karn Sharma. And of the seven, barring Watson and Russell, rest are all bowling all-rounders. Since Watson has not bowled at all in the 2019 season, his 2019 numbers aren't considered for calculation.

No surprises with Jaydev Unadkat in the top half of the list, costing 59.86 lakhs per wicket. Unadkat was not retained after any of the seasons and appeared in each of the last six auctions. His best efforts came for Pune in 2017, who picked him for a 30 lakhs, when he aggregated 24 scalps at a cost as low as 0.80 lakhs per wicket. His stocks boomed after that season, with Rajasthan Royals buying him for 11.50 crores in 2018 and eight crores in 2019, though his form with the ball plummeted picking only 21 wickets for Royals at an economy of 10-plus giving values of 118.39 lakhs per wicket in 2018 and 84.97 lakhs per wicket in 2019 compared with that of just 0.80 lakhs per wicket for Pune in 2017. (Unadkat made solitary appearances in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, and failed to pick a wicket each season; for those two seasons he is assigned the salary taken for the season as price per wicket)

The one big miss in the above lists is Ben Stokes who stormed into the IPL winning the MVP award in his maiden season in 2017 for Pune. Rajasthan Royals broke the bank to acquire his services next season though his performances left much to be desired. Stokes average 5.39 lakhs per run for his aggregate of 635 runs and 125.60 lakhs per wicket for his 26 scalps in his three IPL seasons so far.

The value for money buys each season

Yuzvendra Chahal had the best value for money among bowlers in both 2015 and 2016 while KL Rahul cost the least for his runs in 2016
Yuzvendra Chahal had the best value for money among bowlers in both 2015 and 2016 while KL Rahul cost the least for his runs in 2016
Batsmen (Qual: 10+ innings)

Season Batsman Team Runs Price Price/Run
2014 Naman Ojha SRH 232 50 50/Run
2015 Lendl Simmons MI 540 50 50/Run
2016 KL Rahul RCB 397 100 100/Run
2017 Rahul Tripathi RPS 391 10 10/Run
2018 Ambati Rayudu CSK 602 220 220/Run
2019 Mayank Agarwal KXIP 332 100 100/Run
* Price/Run in INR lakhs

This set is dominated by batsmen who were bought relatively cheaply and performed way better than they were expected. Take the case of Rahul Tripathi in 2017. He was bought for a base price of ten lakhs made his way to the starting XI only after Mayank Agarwal's failure in the initial few matches. He prospered big time hitting 391 runs at a strike rate of 146.44 giving him a return of 0.02 lakhs per run.

KL Rahul was transferred to Bengaluru from Sun Risers ahead of 2016 and his 387 runs at 146.49 gave him an excellent return of 0.20 lakhs per run. Ambati Rayudu flourished for the Super Kings at the top of the order in 2018 scoring 602 runs at a strike rate a shade under 150 - which gives a brilliant return of 0.34 lakhs per run that season for a moderate price of 2.20 crores.

Bowlers (Qual: 25+ overs)

Season Bowler Team Wkts Price Price/Wkt
2014 Pravin Tambe RR 15 10 10/Wkt
2015 Yuzvendra Chahal RCB 23 10 10/Wkt
2016 Yuzvendra Chahal RCB 21 10 10/Wkt
2017 Siddarth Kaul SRH 16 10 10/Wkt
2018 Prasidh Krishna KKR 10 20 20/Wkt
2019 Shreyas Gopal RR 20 20 20/Wkt
* Price/Run in INR lakhs

The value for money for bowling each season is exclusively filled by uncapped and relatively unknown bowlers bought for their base price. Pravin Tambe remains the oldest debutant and had not played a game in professional cricket when he made his IPL debut for Rajasthan Royals in 2013. He was re-picked by the franchise in 2014 for his base price and finished as their leading wicket taker with 15 victims giving him a price per wicket value of 0.56.

Though Siddarth Kaul was initially bought by Sun Risers in 2015 auction for a base price of ten lakhs, he did not find a place in the playing XI until 2017. He picked 16 wickets in the season and became a death overs specialist giving him a value of 0.45 lakhs per wicket. The franchise had to shell out 3.80 crore in the mega auction in 2018 to hold on to his services.

Prasidh Krishna in 2018 came into Kolkata Knight Riders team as a replacement for an injured Kamalesh Nagarkoti and only featured in the second half of the tournament. He bagged ten wickets from seven matches becoming his team's go to man in the final stages of the innings.

Shreyas Gopal made his IPL debut in 2014 but only got to feature in six games across four seasons and was picked by Royals in 2018 for 20 lakhs. He had an impressive season especially towards the latter half which earned him a spot in the final XI in the following season. In 2019, he came in to his own with 20 wickets from 14 games, nine wickets more than any other bowler in the team.

Teams with best Return on Investment (RoI) values

Mumbai Indians had the best return on investment in 2015 and 2017
Mumbai Indians had the best return on investment in 2015 and 2017
For calculating the RoI for teams, the total salary paid to all its players is deducted from the value added by runs scored and wickets taken by the team. Value addition by runs and wickets is formulated by multiplying the adjusted runs scored with cost per run and adjusted wickets taken (as mentioned at the start of the copy to evaluate individual players) by cost per wicket.

Cost per run is the total runs scored in the tournament by the batsmen divided by the cumulative salary earned by all the players. For example, 18573 runs were scored, and 639 wickets were taken by the bowlers in the 2019 edition of the tournament which equates to 2.33 lakhs per run scored and 67.62 lakhs per wicket taken (a total salary of 432.07 crores were disbursed among the eight teams out of the 595.30 crores spent in the auction).

Season Top four teams on RoI Top four teams on points table
2014 KXIP, KKR, CSK, RR KXIP, KKR, CSK, MI
2015 MI, CSK, RCB, SRH CSK, MI, RCB, RR
2016 RCB, SRH, KKR, GL GL, RCB, SRH, KKR
2017 MI, RPS, SRH, KKR MI, RPS, SRH, KKR
2018 SRH, CSK, KKR, Delhi SRH, CSK, KKR, RR
2019 CSK, Delhi, MI, SRH MI, CSK, Delhi, SRH
According to our methodology, the four teams that finished top four in the order in RoI table have made it to the Play Offs in that respective season in 2016, 2017, and 2019. While in the three other seasons, three of the top four in RoI table made it to the playoffs.

In 2014, it was Rajasthan Royals who finished fourth in RoI table but Mumbai Indians ended on fourth in the points table and made the cut thanks to the Aditya Tare six off James Faulkner which helped Mumbai to finish with a net run rate a few decimal points ahead of Royals.

In 2015, Sun Risers were placed better on RoI table to Royals because of the high return to cost ratio for Warner, Moises Henriques and Bhuvneshwar. Of the five retentions by Royals in the previous year, three had negative returns (James Faulkner, Stuart Binny, and Sanju Samson), while the other two (Watson and Ajinkya Rahane) had meagre positive returns.

In 2018, Royal's position in the RoI table was pulled down because of the large negative returns of their two big ticket buys in the auction - Stokes and Unadkat.

Ⓒ Cricbuzz
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