Who should the IPL franchises retain?

I have a proprietary algorithm for evaluating cricket matches. This algorithm analyzes matches ball-by-ball and then computes the “impact” of each player on the game, in terms of both batting and bowling.

I’ve been intending to do this for a while now but I finally got down to calculating the impact of different players in the past editions of the IPL, and who it makes sense for franchises to retain (incidentally, today is the last day for franchises to announce to the IPL who the players are who they are going to retain).

Let us go franchise by franchise and see who the best players are. The numbers in the brackets represent the impact of each player according to my proprietary system.

1. Chennai Super Kings

By a long way, their two best players are MS Dhoni (3.53) and Ravindra Jadeja (3.46). Interestingly, the primary reason for the latter’s high score is his batting  (2.86)- he has been bowling well, too (0.6), but it is his batting that has had significant impact.

These two are followed some distance behind by Raina (2.02) and the now retired Mike Hussey (1.75). Ashwin is some way behind at 0.7 (his bowling is at 1 and batting at 0.33; the algorithm tends to unfairly penalize bowlers for their batting abilities, or the lack of it).

Chennai have already made their decision on who to retain. They are going to retain Dhoni, Jadeja, Raina, Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo. The last is a bit of a puzzle, at -1.09. His batting has been excellent – he has contributed 1.52 but his bowling has been utter crap at 2.61. CSK would do well to use him as a batsman only

2. Delhi Daredevils

This is a team that has performed rather badly in the last bunch of IPLs, so they might be expected to dispense with some players. Virender Sehwag (3.14), though, has performed exceptionally in the rot, though this season’s domestic performance (or the lack of it) might go against him. Next is the injury-prone Irfan Pathan (1.72). Shahbaz Nadeem is a surprise package at 1.56. I wouldn’t expect them to retain anyone.

Umesh Yadav (-1.77) and Mahela Jayawardene (-2.33) have been especially poor performers

3. Kings XI Punjab

Another franchise that didn’t do particularly well in the last set of IPLs. David Miller (2.05) was their standout performer, followed by Gurkeerat Singh (1.24), Shaun Marsh (1.11) and Praveen Kumar (1.02). The latter two are highly injury prone and they may not want to part with a large part of their budget for the yet uncapped Gurkeerat. So if you expect them to retain any players, it would only be Miller.

At the other end, Parvinder Awana (-1.92) has been the standout performer.

4. Kolkata Knight Riders

Sunil Narine (4.48) and Gautam Gambhir (4.22) tower over the rest. Following them are Shakib al Hasan (1.63) and Iqbal Abdulla (1.13). One would expect them to hold on to the first two (Narine and Gambhir) and try to use their trump card to match a price for Shakib.

Jacques Kallis performed particularly badly (-2.81) and is unlikely to be retained.

5. Mumbai Indians

If you were to rank all players in descending order of impact, the standout player across teams would be Harbhajan Singh (5.04; 3.64 bowling, 1.41 batting). Despite his axing from the national team, one would expect him to be retained by the franchise. He is followed some way behind by Lasith Malinga (2.01), Kieron Pollard (1.97; with 3.05 in batting and – 1.09 in bowling) and Rohit Sharma (1.74). One would expect all of those three to be retained. Dinesh Karthik at 1.31 might also be retained, for they will only need to give up Rs. 4 Crore from their salary cap  to get him.

6. Rajasthan Royals

If one goes by the gossip, the Royals are expected to retain a large number of players. They are the “moneyball” team of the IPL. They don’t spend too much on salary but try to get otherwise undervalued players to play for them.

Brad Hodge (1.91) has been their star performer but his age might go against him – they might prefer to match him using their trump card. They are expected to retain Shane Watson (1.55 with 3.83 batting and -2.28 bowling), though. Stuart Binny at 1.34 is also a good bet to be retained.

Interestingly, the system shows a negative impact for the otherwise highly rated Sanju Samson (-0.17)! He is, however, another player they might retain.

7. Royal Challengers Bangalore

The Royal Challengers have already made their decision – they will retain Chris Gayle (4.93; with 6.51 batting and -1.58 bowling), AB de Villiers (3.12) and Virat Kohli (1.95 with 2.22 batting and -0.27 bowling). The one highly rated player they are not retaining is Zaheer Khan (3.69). Khan has been exceptional considering that his partners in the RCB pace attack are Vinay Kumar (-3.59), RP Singh (-2.83) and Abhimanyu Mithun (-1.69).

Their only other highly rated bowler is Murali Kartik (1.05). They will need to completely rebuild their bowling attack in order to compete this IPL

8. Sunrisers Hyderabad

Dale Steyn (3.43) is the standout performer and they would do well to retain him. The next best is Shikhar Dhawan, who is some distance away at 0.72. Given the paucity of quality Indian players, though, they might end up retaining Dhawan also.

I’m willing to share the full results of my analysis. Do reach out to me if you want to play around with it and I’ll send it to you. And let me know what you think of these ratings.

Analyzing the IPL Auction Rules – 1

So finally after a really long delay the rules for the IPL Auction 2014 are out. Each franchise has the option of retaining up to five players, with additional “trump cards” that allow them to match the price of a winning bid in the auction for players that were part of their teams in the earlier IPLs.

At the outset, the rules of the auction look loaded towards teams that already have strong squads and want to retain as many players as they can – for example, given the rules of the auction, a team can retain up to 6 players from their existing squads, and this significantly biases the auction in favour of teams that want to retain players.

Looking a bit deeper, though, it is clear that this luxury of retention comes at a price. For example, irrespective of what the team negotiates with its number one player, Rs. 12.5 Crore (125 million), or a little more than 20% of the cumulative salary cap will be debited from the team’s account. For the next player, Rs. 9.5 Crore (95 million) will be debited. There is a sliding scale and the fifth player a team retains will cost them Rs. 4 Crore in terms of their budget.

The question is if this pricing is appropriate – is charging 20% of the team budget for the number one player enough compensation for the benefit the team gets by way of retention? Is charging two thirds of the total salary cap (Rs. 39 Crore) enough for retention of five players?

At first look, this pricing looks appropriate – after all, why would someone want to forego two thirds of their auction kitty for keeping just five players, when the total squad size is 16 to 27? However, looking at the previous auctions tells a different story.

The two graphs here shows the proportion of total auction money spent by each team on each player in the last two auctions. The graph might appear complicated so let me explain. For each team, I ordered players bought in the auction in the descending order of price. Then I looked at how much the top player cost as a proportion of the total money spent at the auction. Then, how much the top two players cost and so on.









(click on images for full size. For the 2008 auction, marquee players have been included in the analysis)

In the 2008 auction, teams spent between 60 and 85% of their budgets in order to select their five most expensive players, with a median of 72%. In the 2011 auction, teams spent between 65 and 90% of their budgets for their top five players (takes into account retained players), and the median spend was 71%. 

Given that the “top 5” players for each team cost them upwards of 70% of their total budgets in the last two auctions, charging teams only Rs. 39 Crore (65%) for retaining five players is blatantly unfair, and biased towards the teams that want to retain. Also, considering that retained players are “known devils”, there is more value for money for teams from retained players. So in the ideal case, the fee for retaining 5 players should have been definitely upwards of 75% of the total budget (Rs. 45 Crore).

The following table helps to show the undervaluation of each retained player:



The second and third columns in the above table shows the median percentage of total budget teams spent in order to buy their top N players. The last column shows what percentage of their budget they would have to spend if they are to retain players in the auction.

The message for teams is clear: retain as much as you can. It is cheaper to retain your top players rather than building a new team from the available pool. The challenge, however, is to negotiate a good price with these players.

PS: I have a solution that can help teams plan their auction strategy. If you are an IPL team and you are interested in this, contact me through the contact form.