Sunday, 09 January 2011

[Sport: Cricket] IPL 4 squad analysis following auction (8 & 9 January 2011)

So the player auctions for the IPL 2011 season (and beyond) have come to pass and most teams have had a total revamp. The only team which will have a retained a major contingent of their squad is the Chennai Super Kings and they have been contenders in all 3 seasons since tournament inception (so it makes perfect sense for them to retain the look of their squad).

Some teams have chosen not to retain even a single player and gone with fresh line ups! Two new franchises have entered the fray in the form of Kochi and Pune taking the total number of teams to ten. Not long ago there were only 7 teams whose participation was without doubt, this after the banning of two existing franchises by the BCCI (Rajasthan & Punjab) and ownership squabbles within the Kochi franchise threatened it to become a non-starter. Rajasthan and Punjab decided to take the BCCI to task and the higher powers of the land ruled in their favour thus entitling them to compete and effectively 'unbanning' them.

So the player auction (which had been postponed due to the team uncertainty) could go ahead on 8 & 9 January 2011. It appears the Kochi franchise have not had time to finalise their team name and logo but that did not stop them from being one of the more active parties on the auction floor.

Now the question is, which team(s) emerged from the auction with the best players and which is the most balanced squad? Its pretty obvious that simply rating the players based on how much the final bid they were sold for at the auction is not the way to go because of the nature of auctions. There have been loads of media content on who fetched the largest sums, who were the 'steals' and who went unsold against the predictions but not much to evaluate the various team strengths based on player ability and squad completeness, that is what I have attempted to do.

The Squad composition table is available as a pdf download available here.

Scoring Methodology
Each player has been assigned a 'Quality/Ability' score (based on performance at domestic and international level and prior IPL seasons). Scoring of players will always be subjective and the scores presented are my personal view. These individual ratings are then used to determine an overall score for each team based on player quality.

A second score is computed based to indicate the 'Completeness of the squad' which essentially takes into account the number of players already signed up (and bearing in mind that those signed on outside the auction are generally not going to be of the same caliber as they have not represented India at international level). The squad completeness also takes into account the number of Indian players vs the international players in the squad (this rating is preferential towards Indian players due to the limit of 4 internationals in the starting line-up for each match).

Team Ratings summary pdf download available here.

Both these scores are then used to derive an overall team score based on the squad profiles after the auction. The table above indicates a few surprising findings alongside the more expected results, there is little to separate the leading 5 scores but the top 3 sides are Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi respectively whilst the three weakest teams are Punjab, Kolkata (in spite of their big money signings!) and Rajasthan.

Rajasthan appear to be the side with the biggest concern here, they have the fewest number of players in their squad (less than half that of Chennai, Delhi or Kochi) and despite this only manage to obtain a mediocre player quality score (this can only go down with signings after the auction). While they may be able to improve their squad completeness score with some 'Asnodkar' type signings their quality score will take a hit and thus their overall team score will likely remain at the bottom of the rankings. One might say that they pulled off the unexpected with an average squad in the inaugural season but I think they will struggle to repeat a similar feat again.

A table of detailed team ratings by individual player ratings is available as a pdf download available here.

The complete spreadsheet is also available (xlsx format) here.