IPL 2018 Pre-Auction Analysis: 2 Crore Overseas Players

20th January, 2018.

The 2018 IPL auction weekend commences in a week's time, and in the run-up to the auction, I'll be writing some articles on some interesting spots worthy of discussion.

This first piece focuses on the 23 overseas players who have set their base price at the highest value - 2 crore (200 lakh), which works out to roughly £225,000.  A player who sets their base price at 2 crore has effectively made their position very clear - if they are to be signed, it's going to be for plenty of money.  

On this basis, it's reasonable to assume that the players who have done this consider themselves to be extremely valuable assets to franchises.  In the main, they are big names, and some are world class, but statistical analysis of the players on the list actually would suggest that some of these players would be extremely lucky if they were signed by a franchise.

Rashid Khan: Without doubt the best T20 spinner in the world currently, the Afghanistan bowler will be hugely in demand in the coming auction.  With our algorithm giving him an expected IPL bowling average of 20.44, and economy 6.45, he will be a true asset to any team that signs him.  

In addition, he offers a threat with the bat lower down the order, with an expected strike rate in excess of 150, and it's fair to suggest that he's been under-used with the bat by teams to this point - his hitting skills offer value in the death overs.

Pat Cummins: Our numbers suggest he's probably a little over-rated with the ball, with an expected average of 28.31, and economy 8.59, but he also can contribute to the bat later in an innings, with an expected batting average of over 20 at a strike rate of about 140.  

Cummins is another player likely to be in demand, with many teams looking for a quality bowling all-rounder.

James Faulkner: If Cummins is over-rated a little, Faulkner is over-rated by a great deal.  The Australian's numbers have fallen off a cliff in the last couple of years, and with an expected bowling average of 35.45, and economy 9.15, he's likely to be a below average IPL bowler.

Furthermore, Faulkner's batting - although he doesn't get dismissed much - is frequently a liability, with an expected IPL strike rate of 115.69.  Faulkner's batting issues stem from a very low boundary percentage, and a strike rate well below 100 against spin bowling.

Based on our numbers, Faulkner would be one to avoid for franchises.

Josh Hazlewood: Hasn't bowled much in T20 at all in recent years (hasn't played a T20 since March 2016) so it's tough to judge him.  

I'm certainly not of the opinion that a player can be judged in T20 based on their performances in other formats, so I'll reserve judgement on the Australian quick bowler.  

Given this lack of exposure in the format, it would be a gamble from a franchise to sign Hazlewood.

Mitchell Johnson: One of the best overseas fast bowlers in the auction, Johnson's expected IPL numbers are similar to Rashid Khan's, offering both a wicket-taking threat as well as considerably better than average economy (he's currently going for less than 6 runs an over in the current Big Bash).

It wouldn't be a surprise at all if the Australian quick bowler was in high demand in the upcoming auction.

Mitchell Johnson's expected IPL numbers are world-class...

Chris Lynn: Another Australian talent likely to be popular among franchises, Lynn's batting expectation data is stunning, based on our algorithm, with an expected average of 49.18, at a strike rate close to 160.

However, it's worth noting that Lynn's strike rate against pace bowling is considerably better than that against spin bowling and it will be interesting to see whether opposition captains are astute enough to use spinners against Lynn in an attempt to combat his prowess against pace.

Glenn Maxwell: On his day one of the most destructive batsmen in the world, Maxwell appears to be negatively thought of by some in the game, despite his numbers being exceptional.  His strength is particularly from a strike rate basis, where our algorithms expect him to strike at around 160 runs per 100 balls, at an average of 33.83.

Maxwell also offers useful spin bowling, and although it's not reasonable to use him for four overs in every match, he can be used effectively against batsmen who are relatively poor against spin.

It will be fascinating to see how much interest there is for Maxwell - if I was running recruitment for an IPL franchise, he'd be a player on my shortlist.

Marcus Stoinis: A strong Big Bash with the bat may see Stoinis in demand more than a month ago, but while our algorithm does weight for recency, it doesn't to the extent that a few good performances will make a player better than they actually are.  Quite frequently, good 'form' is nothing more than variance, or favourable match conditions, and it's important to guard against this.

Stoinis' numbers are solid rather spectacular, with an expected IPL batting average of 23.40, and strike rate 138.84, but he offers some value with the ball as well, although his expected IPL economy rate of exactly 9 runs per over isn't going to be an asset.

Mitchell Starc: One of the premier fast bowlers in the world, Starc's expected numbers are absolutely world class despite not having played much T20 in recent years.

An expected average of 16.11, and economy rate 7.11, mean that Starc will be hot property in the upcoming auction.  Expect him to be fought over by a number of franchises.

Mitchell Starc is another world-class Australian bowler...

Cameron White: The 34 year old in-form Australian batsman has just been called up by the national team for the ODI series with England, although curiously batted at number 7 yesterday - and our data marks him out to be a player who would need to be played in a somewhat different role.

Quite simply, with an expected IPL average of 43.89, and strike rate 122.88, White would be better served batting early in the innings to try and stabilise, at the loss of an early wicket or two, as opposed to being a lower-order hitter. 

My concern with White is this strike rate and a boundary percentage of 12.23% across T20s from the 2016-17 Big Bash onwards.  This gives him obvious potential to stagnate an innings, and even if he could add 10-15 runs per 100 balls to this, and up the boundary percentage to around 16%, he'd be much more of an asset.

Eoin Morgan: Morgan has already played for four IPL franchises, and our numbers suggest that this number should not change in the upcoming auction.

In short, Morgan's numbers have declined markedly in recent years, and his expected IPL average of 22.99, and strike rate 117.17, make him a below-average T20 batsman currently.

Morgan's T20 numbers from the 2017 Big Bash onwards don't make for pleasant reading - in 36 completed innings, he's scored 804 runs from 676 balls, at an average of 22.33 and strike rate of 118.93, so any franchise considering recruiting the England white-ball captain will need to be very sure indeed that he can recapture former glories.

Liam Plunkett: Had a reasonably decent BPL campaign recently, taking 7 wickets at 22.57, with an economy of 8.32, but our numbers don't enthuse about the Yorkshire paceman, with him having an expected IPL bowling average of 32.97, and economy 8.74.

However, Plunkett's boundary hitting ability makes him a decent lower order hitter, and does give him additional value over the average T20 bowler.

Ben Stokes: Another player likely to be in high demand from franchises, Stokes' all-round abilities are almost certain to guarantee a big price at auction.

However, his bowling expectation numbers are below average, and the only area where our algorithm rates him better than average is his batting strike rate.  

If I was running a franchise, I'd not be willing to part with big money to sign Stokes.

David Willey: A lower profile all-rounder that I do like, Willey seems to be under-appreciated by many in T20, with better bowling expectation data than Stokes, and also marginally better batting data as well.

A real boundary hitter, Willey has hit 19.63% of deliveries for boundaries across the 2017 T20 Blast and 2018 Big Bash, as well as incredible 8.22% of balls for sixes - truly world-class numbers.  

Chris Woakes: Another decent English all-rounder, Woakes did well in a difficult role for Kolkata Knight Riders last year in the IPL, and can expect to be picked up by a franchise in the coming auction.

Woakes' bowling expectation is decent from a wicket-taking perspective (21.85 expected average), and he offers something with the bat as well, with an expected batting average of 20.05, with strike rate 126.71.  

In an ideal world, Woakes would be able to up this strike rate to around 140 to be one of the most in-demand all-rounders in world T20.

Corey Anderson: A batting all-rounder from New Zealand, Anderson would have a chance of being picked up by a franchise, even without his bowling, with an expected IPL batting average of 28.79, and strike rate 137.53.

Anderson's bowling hasn't been his strong point in recent years, and an expected bowling average of around 45, and economy not far off 9 runs per over, marks his bowling out to be well below average.

Brendon McCullum: Currently captaining the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash, McCullum offers an excellent strike rate at the top of the order - our algorithm expects him to strike at 144.75 - but it's worth noting that while McCullum is a world-class performer, I do have some question marks about him.

Primarily these are to do with his worse performances in the sub-continent - across this year's BPL and PSL, he played 18 completed innings, scoring 374 runs from 320 balls (average 20.78, strike rate 116.88) - and this may be indicative of his relatively worse ability against spin bowling.  

However, his numbers in the last three IPLs are not bad at all, averaging close to 30 and striking in excess of 145, so I do expect franchises to be strongly considering the New Zealand batsman.

Quinton de Kock: The South African wicket-keeper batsman is another player likely to be in high demand with franchises, but his numbers in recent years have not been nearly as impressive as when he burst onto the scene.

Currently, De Kock's expected IPL batting numbers see him have a batting average of 30.95, striking at 132.80, and these mark him out to be solid, rather than spectacular.

Colin Ingram: A South African batting all-rounder who is a little lower-profile than many of those with a 2 crore base price, Ingram has excellent batting expectation, with our algorithm giving him an expected IPL batting average of 33.53, and strike rate an excellent 148.06.  

Since the start of 2017, Ingram has hit 19.76% of balls faced for boundaries, and this world-class hitting should make him in demand among franchises, particularly when his fairly useful legbreak bowling - especially from an economy perspective - is also factored in.

Angelo Mathews: The 30 year old Sri Lankan wouldn't be a player that I'd have at the forefront of my shortlist, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, his bowling numbers have taken a hit in recent years - although they are still relatively economical - and he has been bowling far less than in recent years.

In addition, Mathews batting - albeit strong from an average perspective - is weak from a strike rate and boundary hitting point of view.  Our algorithm gives him an expected strike rate in the upcoming IPL of 128.20, and since the start of 2016, has hit barely above 12% of balls for boundaries in T20.

Dwayne Bravo: A very experienced T20 all-rounder, Bravo is likely to be in great demand among IPL franchises, with numbers not hugely dissimilar to Ben Stokes.

Bravo's bowling has more of a wicket-taking than economy dynamic (31.16 expected average, 8.97 expected economy) while his batting could do with boosting strike rates (expected IPL strike rate of 129.66) considering he often bats in the later overs of innings.  

Despite the fact that Bravo is likely to be in demand from franchises, I'm not entirely convinced I'd be looking at the West Indian all-rounder as a primary option.

Chris Gayle: The 'Universe Boss', Gayle's performances in the latter stages of the BPL will scrub doubts from many that the West Indies batsman's best days are behind him at the age of 38.

Our expected numbers give him an expected IPL batting average of 35.35 at a strike rate of 155.35, and this data clearly marks out Gayle as a world-class performer.  

At the age of 38, Chris Gayle is still a top quality T20 batsman...

Kieron Pollard: One of the most dangerous late-innings hitters in T20, Pollard's expected IPL strike rate of 152.47 says it all - he has the ability to score very quickly - and his expected average of 27.79 is also above average.

However, Pollard's expected bowling numbers are poor (35.54 expected average, 9.58 expected economy) and franchises looking to recruit Pollard should look to do so primarily from a batting perspective, as opposed to a bowling one.

Evidently, the hugely variable quality of the players with a 2 crore base price shows that franchises will have to do their homework to avoid costly mistakes, which will not just cost them financially, but also on the playing field.  Our bespoke auction and draft service enables teams to avoid such errors, and also identify players who are under-valued by the market - for more information, please contact sportsanalyticsadvantage@gmail.com.