Analysing the Bowling Performances in the IPL

The IPL finished at the end of May with the Mumbai Indians winning the title on the last ball of the match against the now defunct Rising Pune Super Giant. I decided to take a new look at evaluating bowling performances. Currently bowlers in all cricket are judged based on the amount of wickets they have taken, their economy rate or their bowling average. I think there could be a new way of reviewing performances. If you take the batsmen average as an indication of how good the batsmen is the batsmen with higher averages must be harder wickets to take. Therefore if you record the average of the batsmen the bowler took the wicket of you can make a judgement of the quality of the bowling. Has the bowler took a lot of wickets but where they all lower order less quality batsmen or are they good at taking the top order wickets.

I have used this approach to review the bowling performances in the 2017 IPL. To qualify for this review the bowler had to have taken more then 5 wickets which left me with 44 bowlers. The first graph below shows the amount of wickets taken by bowler against the number of balls they bowled:


Stand out performances from that graph are clearly Unadkat and Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking lots more wickets then anyone else who bowled a similar amount of balls. Sunil Narine looks to have had a significantly lower return of wickets then he should have done with  the amount of balls bowled. Now if we look at the quality of the batsmen the bowlers got out shown in the graph below:


As you can see our second ranked bowler based on wickets taken has one of the lowest average batting quality rating (have to come up with a better name!) at 18.45, suggesting that he often got his wickets from lower order batsmen. Kumar got his wickets at an Batsmen average of 22.33 which is a respectable value slightly lower then the average for all bowlers. The two highest bowlers where Chawler and Nadeem both only took 6 wickets but didn’t bowl many balls  (only 120 and 107 respectively). Would be interesting to know why they played only 6 games as they both looked to have troubled a lot of higher ranking batsmen.

That’s it for this first look as a way to review bowling performances. I think this can be explored a lot more and will definitely look to do that. The weakness of the method is the amount of games a batsmen has played as one that has played few will possibly have an unrepresentative average.


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