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As we move towards the new year, I have started a new weekly cricket analytics and discussion blog, with regular posts throughout 2021.  I wanted to start this for a number of reasons - firstly, it's sometimes very difficult to concisely give my thoughts on matches and situations in matches on Twitter, which obviously has a character limit, and also because I get a lot of contact from aspiring analysts around the world both via email and also on Linkedin, so I thought it would be interesting and useful to give some thoughts on my personal experiences of trying to get work in cricket and the industry in general as the blog progresses.  Also, I'm happy to answer any questions or give my thoughts on specific match situations, so please feel free get in touch - if there are enough questions, perhaps I'll do a Q&A on here at some point in the future.  As the posts continue throughout 2021, they will be added below and all posts can be viewed via this page with the most recent at the top.

21st January, 2021.

IPL retention list announced yesterday

Apologies for no post last week, I've had a lot of recruitment work on so had to put that post onto the back burner for a few days time - I'm planning to get a few posts done between now and the end of January.  However, the delay does allow a natural starting point for this week's post - the IPL retention lists, which were announced yesterday.  If you didn't see the lists of retained/released players, you can check them out here.  According to the IPL website, 139 players were retained and 57 were released.  Of the released players, 28 were overseas - around half of the released players - and actually I think there's a decent case for this number to actually be pretty low.  

What criteria should teams look to retain overseas players?

Strictly speaking as treating players as a commodity point of view, there isn't really much need to retain overseas players unless they tick at least one of the following criteria:-

1) World-class, genuine marquee player (current ability, not reputation).
2) Possesses rare skillsets which are likely attractive to numerous rival franchises (such as strong death bowlers, all-rounders who are both genuine hitters and regular four-over bowlers, or 20%+ percentage boundary-hitters with 20+ balls per dismissal).
3) Offer strong financial value based on their current salary (if they went back into auction, it would be likely that they'd cost more than their current salary).

That's it.  No other overseas player really needs to be retained - the overseas market is completely different to the domestic market.  It has plentiful supply in non-rare skillset areas and there are numerous potential overseas players who have never played IPL before who are of equivalent or better quality to some of those retained players.

Going through the squad lists and current salaries, I only really make a case for the following overseas retentions:-

CSK: Sam Curran - improving and cheaper than when signed for KXIP.  Offers rare all-rounder skillset, CSK need left-handers & teams will pay a premium for left-arm bowlers too.
DC: Kagiso Rabada - World class pace bowler and death bowler at just 4.2 Crore.  Anrich Nortje - Would almost certainly be more expensive than 50 lakh if bought back at auction.
KXIP: Nicholas Pooran - Incredible spin-hitter, offers a useful wicket-keeper option and would almost certainly be more expensive than 4.2 Crore at auction.
KKR: Andre Russell - Has had injury issues but no batsman offers strike rate and boundary-hitting upside like Russell - a very rare skill-set.  Perhaps more of a batter who bowls, as opposed to being a genuine all-rounder, but again, a very rare skillset.  Lockie Ferguson - Offers strong value based on 1.6 Crore price - would be likely to cost more to buy back at auction.  While he only bowls around 15% of his overs at the death, his numbers in Powerplay and middle overs are impressive.
MI: Quinton de Kock at 2.8 Crore.  He's been well used by them at the top of the order and offers a useful wicket-keeper option as well.  Would probably cost more to be bought back at auction.
RR: Jos Buttler - excellent keeper/batter who would be in demand at auction.  Jofra Archer - World class pace bowler.   The English duo offer great value at around 12 Crore combined.
RCB: AB De Villiers - world class, marquee batsman.  In my view their main challenge is to try and get Kohli cheaper than 17 Crore.  Josh Philippe - High potential, plus his strong spin-hitting is a rare skill-set.  Would be likely to cost more than 20 lakh to be bought back at auction.  Adam Zampa - excellent leg-spinner who has done very well in the current Big Bash.  Will be likely to cost more than 1.5 Crore to buy back at auction.  Moeen Ali - boundary percentage and strike rates compare very favourably to most batsmen and offers useful off-spin option.  Chris Morris - was fairly expensive in the previous auction but offers a rare all-rounder skillset as a genuine hitter and four-over bowler who bowls at the death.  Likely to be in demand at the auction.
SRH: Kane Williamson - Mr reliable - would be likely to cost more than 3 Crore to buy back at auction.  Jonny Bairstow - again would be likely to command more than 2.2 Crore at auction.  Rashid Khan - world-class leg spinner and dangerous lower-order hitter, would cost 15+ Crore potentially in an open market.

Mumbai Indians look like they have adopted this strategy

So this makes 17 overseas players that, in my view, tick at least one of those three boxes, which works out at an average of just over two overseas players to retain per team.  Due to a quirk of the rules, it appears that teams have options to retain players both originally purchased at auction and replacement players, so there are around 65-70 overseas players associated with the competition - from a value perspective, it's difficult to make a case for a number of overseas players currently retained by IPL franchises.  This isn't to say that many of these aren't good players, but simply that there isn't much logical sense in retaining them at this point in proceedings.  IPL teams are generally quite risk-averse when it comes to retentions and trading - I already have made a data-driven point in my book that many players (particularly domestic players) are retained for one expensive retention too many when they are past peak age - so this general approach from franchises isn't particularly surprising.  However, I'm far from convinced that their approach in this area is close to optimal.

Interestingly, current champions (and overwhelmingly the team with the best strategy in the competition in recent years in my view), Mumbai Indians, were one team who adopted quite close to this strategy.  Of the seven players they released, five were overseas and none were genuine first-team options.  Given that they've released four overseas pace bowlers, it strikes me that they might be clearing squad space/budget for a high quality overseas pace bowler capable of bowling well in both the Powerplay and death overs - perhaps something their overseas pace bowling options didn't consistently offer last year - and while I'm not willing to share the name of the particular bowler that I think they will have in mind (he has these skills plus can hit lower down the order) , if they do sign him they will be incredibly difficult to beat.

A number of questions about overseas recruitment in advance of the auction

The auction dynamics this time around will be fascinating.  Even with just 28 overseas players released, I'm looking forward to seeing overseas recruitment strategies from teams, and a few of the questions I have are as follows...

Will teams go for 'reputation' players or look to pick up younger players with huge upside?   There are plenty of these high upside players in their early/mid 20s around currently, and in the next couple of years I expect a huge turnover from the current players on the T20 'merry-go-round' who somehow get regular franchise league contracts, to these potential superstars coming through.  Will there be recency bias towards the Big Bash, as has potentially occurred in recent years?  Will teams overvalue more red-ball orientated Australian players who have performed against India recently in the Test series?  Will franchises realise (some still don't seem to) that giving big contracts to batsmen with strong rotation abilities but below-average boundary percentages is a poor usage of resources given the plentiful supply of these type of players in the domestic market?  

It's worth pointing out here that the domestic market has a completely different dynamic which cannot be compared to the overseas market.  Domestic resources are scarcer in some areas (in my view, aggressive batting and death bowling in particular) and sometimes this leads teams to overpay for certain skillsets, or take risks signing players for big money who have performed well at lower levels of domestic T20 cricket.  Even so, there still looks like a bias towards reputation among a number of domestic players, with some players who, statistically, look past their best still retained on high value contracts.  It will be interesting to see if this dynamic changes in the future as more teams start to improve their recruitment efficiency.

Should players have a say in their retention?

According to reports, this is the last year before a major auction in advance of the 2022 season, with the potential for several new teams to be added.  It's interesting to see that, unlike some other leagues, there doesn't appear to be a limit on the number of retentions and players don't appear to have the ability to renegotiate their salaries.  It appears that all the power currently lies with the franchises, as opposed to the players, and some players on low contracts could well have been in a better financial position if they had been released and were available at auction.  Take Ishan Porel as an example.  In my book, in advance of last year's tournament, I discussed Porel as a young bowler with high potential, yet he didn't play a single match for Kings XI Punjab last season - this was a real surprise to me.  Having performed very well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy recently (13 wickets in 5 matches at 10.84 average) he would almost certainly be in demand at the auction, and would likely command a salary well in excess of the lowest 20 lakh base price, which is the price he was signed at by Kings XI previously.  In some other leagues, to retain a player, both player and team must agree on the retention and price point of that retention, and I think this would add an interesting dynamic to the IPL process moving forward.


8th January, 2021.

Conveying ideas to decision-makers 

For the first blog post of 2021, I want to discuss some of my own experiences which I hope will benefit a lot of the aspiring analysts who get in touch with me asking for advice.  Some aspiring analysts have even gone as far as send me samples of their work, which has been fascinating for me to look at and also illustrates the considerable drive and work ethic which many aspiring analysts without current work with teams are willing to demonstrate in order to try and catch the eye of people in the industry.  The one general theme of a lot of this work I've read - both in the way of work which people have privately sent me, but also that I read online - is that it is too 'technical' - often reading like a University dissertation.  I can understand why this approach has been taken, given a lot of analysts have a very academic background, but if my eyes are glazing over reading formulas, references and footnotes then it's pretty likely that most people in the industry also will lose interest pretty quickly as well.  Working on an approach to convey your ideas and findings concisely, perhaps via charts as opposed to formulas or numbers, is likely to get more 'buy-in' than the reverse approach.

One particular analyst has impressed me considerably with the independent work he's been sending me from his own choice, and while I'm not in a position to recruit anyone currently, should I need any assistance with future projects he will be at the top of the queue for that.  In this post as well, I'll also talk about the difficulties of being a 'nobody' trying to obtain work in the cricket world and some of my own personal experiences, which I hope will give some fascinating insight into some of the battles which I have personally faced, and to some extent, continue to do so.  

Difficulties bringing a product or service to market

Imagine a hypothetical world where you, as an individual, living in a random place and knowing no-one in professional cricket, has 'solved' T20 cricket completely independently through your own work - I'm talking about having complete game theory optimal solutions for both recruitment and in-play strategy.  As far as I can see from my own personal experience, no-one (including myself!) is remotely close to achieving this, but just take a quick moment to think about how you might proceed from that point onwards in order to put your strategies into action.  How do you get a team, or multiple teams interested in what you can offer them?  More importantly, how can you market this without giving your work away for free?

In an ideal world, teams would be falling over themselves to get access to this solution.  But the problem is twofold - firstly, at this point, you are a nobody.  No-one knows who you are.  Secondly, even if teams understand the value of what you can offer them, it's still far from a given that they want to invest in it - sport still isn't necessarily a meritocracy.  Some teams are beginning to appreciate that some analysts (often people who have never played cricket professionally) can offer alternative points of view which challenge the conventional wisdom of those involved within the sport for decades, but these teams still aren't close to being a majority.  Answering the question in the previous paragraph isn't particularly easy, particularly if you don't know a single person in professional cricket! 

From personal experience, mass messaging on email/social media/Linkedin has a very low chance of even getting a reply, let alone a positive response, so that option is unlikely to yield much in terms of bringing your product to market.  Personally, I've even written post-season reports on teams, being careful to try and point out problems without giving specific solutions and sent these to any contacts at overseas franchises, but my experience was negative in terms of getting work from this marketing method.  The long-term option that I took when I first started was to try and create a variety of free content on this website and on Twitter in an attempt to showcase what I could offer teams.  This has benefits, in that eventually there is a decent chance of attracting some interest, but also negatives - you probably give away more for free than would be ideal.  Certainly, I have been told by several people in the cricket industry that some teams have used the content that I have given in free articles, as opposed to actually recruiting me to work for them.  

Could teams be more proactive recruiting bloggers?

The balance between showing your worth and not giving too much away for free is, without a doubt, a tricky one.   The entire process is extremely difficult.  I would imagine the majority of people with the skillset to be a sports analyst would probably earn more money and have far less self-doubt (which is easy to acquire given the puzzling lack of demand from many teams to be more efficient) working in a different industry where that skillset will still thrive.  On the subject of self-doubt, as said, this can be easy to come by.  To give you some insight into a situation where I certainly felt this, the first time I ever met with a professional cricket team to market my work I did a presentation to the decision-makers, who then asked me to email them with a formal proposal to work for them.  Subsequently, it took them three months to reply back to me!  In those three months, it's natural to wonder why, and to go over the entire presentation in your head and second-guess yourself on how you somehow messed up without realising.   I guess what I'm trying to say is that any aspiring analyst needs to be prepared to deal with this, and it hasn't been an isolated incident.  As an individual, I value clear and concise communication extremely strongly, and if I had a decision to make between working for two teams, the team with the better communication would be a huge positive for me.

As time developed, I managed to start getting better relationships with people in the cricket world, and overall, these have been extremely positive.  Without these contacts and relationships, I don't think I'd have earned the roles which I have done - word of mouth still seems pretty important, so I'd recommend any aspiring analyst to try and build up their network as well as they possibly can.  In football and some American sports, this word of mouth doesn't appear necessarily as important, with some bloggers being proactively recruited by teams purely on the strength of their personal portfolio of work.  I was interested to read Tim Wigmore's excellent recent piece about Ashwin Raman, a 17 year-old football analyst from Bangalore, who was spotted by Dundee United on the strength of his work online.  There might be a few instances of this happening in cricket, but I'd suggest that it is not commonplace.  Some readers may think that I got roles from the content I've provided online, but as far as I'm aware, it's not been via a direct consequence of that - the work might have caught the eye of someone, who mentioned it to someone else, who recommended it to another person, etc.

Do teams still generally undervalue analysts financially?

Moving on to finances, when I do give advice to people contacting me about how to try and break into the cricket analytics world, I'm also very clear to point out that I would recommend them not to do work for anyone for free in order to gain 'exposure'.  Firstly, their time has value - both in their time invested to get to the point where people are interested in what they can offer, and also their subsequent time doing the actual work - and also because having done this myself, there are some people who will try and get you to do work for free by promising much and delivering nothing.  I probably was taken advantage of in this respect by some people, so my advice would be to any aspiring analyst not to fall into this trap.

Financially, being an analyst probably still doesn't offer the rewards that people with the skills required could earn in other industries, and consideration should be given to how much financial discrepancy you value in terms of achieving what is, to some people, their dream career.  It always puzzles me why analysts aren't paid more, particularly those with niche skills such as recruitment and list management.  Think of it like this from a county cricket perspective - how much does the worst player or the two worst players in a county team earn?  How much do they contribute to the overall success of their team?  The chances are that they'd only play a handful of matches with mediocre returns.  Could that money be better diverted to someone who can help teams recruit better and help their planning for matches, for example?  Of course, I'm biased, but I'd suggest this is a much better usage of finances than giving a contract extension to a fringe player, or recruiting a mediocre squad player.  Will the general financial situation for analysts change?  I think it will - over the next decade I can definitely envisage the better analysts becoming GMs or Director of Cricket at teams, just as it wouldn't surprise me to see more people from this background become Directors of Football in Football as well - and of course the financial rewards from such positions is greater.  Not only this, when more teams start becoming smart with data, there will be a premium placed on the best analysts and this will put them in a better negotiation position financially.  Plus, in that situation, as more smart teams become data-driven, the teams who aren't data-driven are going to fall so far behind there will be pressure on them to take a similar approach, and therefore there will be more demand for analysts full stop.

This is a pretty different post than a lot of my previous content - there's no data or commentary on data here, and much more in the way of my own personal experiences.  However, I do hope that it was interesting, and that any aspiring analyst reading this finds it useful in terms of preparing themselves for marketing their abilities to the industry.  Of course, I'd be happy to answer any specific questions, if you have them, via email.


29th December, 2020.

This first post covers several subjects, including the Big Bash so far, my thoughts on the X-Factor, recruitment and list management in the competition plus also some thoughts on last week's T10 draft...

BBL Teams failing to maximise overseas output

After today's double-header, every team in the Big Bash has now played at least four matches, with most having played five.  It's probably fair to suggest that you can't win a tournament in the first few matches but you can certainly go a long way towards losing it.  Melbourne Renegades (four points from a possible 20) and Perth Scorchers (two points from a possible 16) are already in danger of being cut adrift at the bottom of the table and need a stunning comeback in order to make the playoffs.  

One interesting area to discuss from these opening matches is the recruitment of overseas players, with the quota for overseas players being increased from two in previous years to three this year.  In theory, this should increase the quality of the competition with there being a general relationship between the quality of a competition and the number of overseas players permitted per team, and this is logical because there is only a certain amount of domestic talent to go round before there is a quality drop-off, so having fewer domestic players and more overseas players tends to increase the standard of a tournament in general.  This is something which could affect the IPL in 2022, with there being the potential for two extra teams to be added - if there was no increase in overseas players permitted, there would need to be 70 domestic players picked for each round of matches, as opposed to the current 56, and the 14 extra players will either need to have been previous fringe players or players who were unsold at auction.  However, if five overseas players were allowed in each of the 10 teams, there would only need to be 60 domestic players picked, which would be much closer to the current 56.

You'd think that with three overseas players now allowed per team, the Big Bash teams would be keen to try and maximise output from their extra overseas addition in an attempt to take advantage of the greater expected returns from the average overseas player compared to the average domestic player.  However, it hasn't really happened so far - below is the combined matches played for overseas players for each team:-

Team

Maximum Possible Overseas Appearances

Actual Overseas Appearances

% of Quota Used





Adelaide Strikers

15

15

100.00

Melbourne Renegades

15

13

86.67

Sydney Sixers

15

13

86.67

Melbourne Stars

15

12

80.00

Perth Scorchers

12

9

75.00

Hobart Hurricanes

15

11

73.33

Brisbane Heat

12

8

66.67

Sydney Thunder

15

9

60.00



Only third-placed Adelaide Strikers (Danny Briggs, Phil Salt, Rashid Khan) have used their full overseas quota so far in the competition, suggesting that the other teams have struggled to maximise their expectation from their overseas players.  At this point it's probably fair to point out that overseas list management is a very tricky with regards to players potentially pulling out for various reasons, and even more so in a global pandemic, but one easy solution would have been for BBL teams to focus on players who aren't likely to be required for their international teams - as Strikers did with both Briggs and Salt.  Furthermore, teams needed to have drawn up plans to deal with overseas player withdrawals but with the exception of Benny Howell being signed by Melbourne Renegades (having already been in Australia), teams have arguably left expected value on the table.  I know of one proven-quality T20 Blast batsman who is currently in Australia and who would have added value to a number of these Big Bash teams who haven't maximised their overseas quota.

My view is that teams should have looked towards a specific 'Moneyball' strategy, by picking up lower-profile players who didn't have any commitments which would clash with the competition.  Some of these lower-profile players are easily good enough to improve Big Bash teams, and I want to make a clear point that I'm very strong on - just because international selectors deem a player not good enough for their national team, it doesn't mean that they are not good enough - it's just the (often incorrect) opinion of these international selectors.  In the T20 format, there are numerous players worldwide who are high quality but don't feature in their international teams plans, and at this point in time, many players prospects of being picked up in overseas leagues are influenced by their national team selectors.  To me, international recognition seems a flawed recruitment consideration for T20 teams, given that I'd be surprised if many international selectors had performed detailed research into the drivers of success and skillsets required to be a successful T20 player.

Potential lack of strong boundary-hitting depth in the domestic player pool

Maximising overseas players in a team's squad is imperative, given that already in the competition, Australia and Australia 'A' have taken players out of BBL teams.  It's had a particular effect on the batting pool in particular - of the 23 domestic players who have currently faced 60+ balls in the tournament, just 10 have a boundary percentage in excess of 16.12% (the tournament mean so far).  Eight of the 23 domestic players facing 60+ balls have a boundary percentage below 13%, and all of these have a strike rate of 121 or below (and some quite a bit lower at around or below the 100 mark).  

Last season, 22 domestic batsmen faced 200+ balls throughout the full competition, and just seven of these had a boundary percentage in excess of 16% - Chris Lynn, Matthew Wade, Josh Inglis, Jake Weatherald, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin.  Based on these numbers, it would appear reasonable to consider that Australia have some potential batting depth issues for above-average boundary hitters, and there were plenty of available players worldwide who could have potentially solved this problem for the various Big Bash teams.  In fact, it would have taken me just several hours to run some database filters and provide Big Bash teams with a shortlist of potential overseas players who could have solved this issue.

This, to some extent, is a problem which has also manifested itself at international level.  Australia frequently pick multiple players with below-average boundary percentages, and it's not surprising to see their team boundary percentage is unspectacular in T20i matches played from 1/1/18 onwards:-


However, Australia do have very strong running/rotating abilities - again a skillset apparent in a lot of their domestic T20 batters - with only India (very marginally) having a higher non-boundary strike-rate.  Unfortunately, as I wrote about in the linked articles here, this is the wrong type of intent and a skillset which has less correlation towards success in T20 cricket compared to boundary-hitting.  I have little idea as to whether this is actually the case, but it's interesting to wonder if maximising running between the wickets but with less priority on boundary-hitting is coached into Australian batsmen from a young age, a dynamic which is rather the opposite to West Indies who have many batsmen with high boundary percentages but low non-boundary strike rates.

Teams still struggling with the X-Factor

As well as the increase to three overseas players, I was particularly interested in seeing some of the other new innovations and rules implemented in the Big Bash this year, and none more so than the 'X-Factor', which enabled teams to make a substitute after 10 overs of the first innings.  When hearing about this new rule, I immediately got thinking about how to try and utilise this strategy with positive expectation, and there were clearly some options, some of which being more obvious than others.  I will say now that if I worked with a BBL team, their head coach and captain would be able to access a report which I would have constructed in advance of the competition which detailed numerous potential strategies which could be implemented if various scenarios developed in matches.

One obvious strategy would be for the team batting first subbing on a batter if they are struggling by the 10 over point, but this is something that Perth Scorchers failed to take advantage of in their innings against the Melbourne Renegades.  In fact, captain Ashton Turner was quoted as saying 'I think we're still getting our head around it and trying to figure out a way we can best utilise the rule changes'.  Given that the rules were announced a reasonable amount of time before the tournament started, there is little excuse for teams to still be 'getting their head around it' - this should have been done in advance.

It's probably fair to suggest that the 'X-factor' hasn't caught the imagination yet, although my opinion is that this isn't necessarily due to the rule being poor - in fact I really like it - but more so due to the lack of creative thought and innovation from teams, plus perhaps some fear on their part about getting it 'wrong'.  Unfortunately, this gives credence to the argument by some traditionalists that these new rules were simply a gimmick.  Teams being scared about something new isn't necessarily unique to the 'X-Factor' in the BBL, with IPL teams extremely reluctant to trade in the mid-season window as well - in my experience, most cricket teams generally have a very risk-averse approach, and are rarely willing to try and challenge 'conventional wisdom'.  The media and social media has a lot to answer for here - if a team tries to be innovative in T20 and loses badly, they will get criticised, but if they play conventionally and lose by 10-20 runs then 'that's the game'.  Teams such as England in ODIs and Mumbai Indians in the IPL are seen by many as anomalies, as opposed to being a template which offers potential positive expectation.  The incredible thing is that England and Mumbai have achieved success in plain sight - it is utterly obvious what their strategies are - yet teams are so reticent to copy it, probably due to this fear.

When I was considering how smart teams would use the X-Factor, my thoughts mainly focused on specific match situations, and these weren't necessarily reactive to these match situations.  For example, let's discuss a potential proactive situation regarding a random opposition team that has one good left-hand top order batter (who is weak against off-spin, like many left-hand batters are) and the rest of their top six are right-handers.  A smart team might be reluctant to play a right arm off-spinner against this opposition batting line-up because there is only one left-hander in the opposition team, but the X-Factor would bring an opportunity to start a right-arm off-spinner in the starting XI to get one over of a great match-up against the good left-handed batter and then sub that off-spinner off no matter what the outcome.  Can you imagine the uproar from commentators if the off-spinner took a wicket and then was subbed off - something like 'he's just taken a wicket and they're subbing him off!' would be pretty predictable - but it's a great specific match-up play, given that the right-arm off-spinner is unlikely to be nearly as much of a threat versus the remaining right-hand batters in that opposition team.

Watching the tournament so far, in my view there have been many strategic errors committed by teams, but here I want to focus on two specific ones that I really didn't like, for various reasons.  The first one was Adelaide Strikers removing Danny Briggs after one over against Sydney Sixers.  At the time, James Vince and Daniel Hughes were batting, with Dan Christian and Jordan Silk carded to come in next for Sixers.   According to my data, from the start of 2018 onwards, the combined quartet of Vince, Hughes, Christian and Silk strike at 121 against slow left-arm, with 21.4 balls per dismissal and a boundary percentage just shy of 11% - a pretty positive outlook for a slow left-armer such as Briggs.  Instead, Briggs was subbed off and Christian promptly hit a 15-ball 50 against better match-ups for him.

The second instance that I really didn't like was Hobart Hurricanes using overseas player Keemo Paul as an X-Factor sub.  My opinion is much more straightforward here - if a team uses one of their overseas players as a sub (whoever the player is), then questions need to be asked about either recruitment or selection.

Moving on ever so slightly from the Big Bash, I was interested to see the Australian quick Aaron Summers get an overseas deal at Southern Punjab in Pakistan.  Such a deal is very rare, but Summers has trodden a rather unconventional path in his career so far.  I mentioned earlier that often a player's career can be somewhat dictated by the opinion of just several people, and it's interesting to see Summers get this opportunity (having also previously played PSL as an overseas player) despite barely featuring as a domestic player in the Big Bash.  It's difficult to assess Summers from a statistical basis due to a very small sample size of matches, but teams in Pakistan clearly have seen something in Summers which Australian teams perhaps haven't done.  I'm not sure who is right or wrong but it will be fascinating to find out.

T10 draft shows the potential edge a data-driven team could have

Finally, on a personal note, I was disappointed not to be involved in the T10 draft which took place last week - I think it is a format which has a lot of potential upside in future years. Following last year's tournament, I wrote a detailed strategy guide to the format (which can be seen here).  I watched the majority of the draft on YouTube, and because of some recruitment in previous years not particularly adhering to drivers of success in the format as detailed in this article, I had fairly low expectations of all teams performing strong recruitment generally.  Based on the recruitment performed this year, some teams have assembled much better squads than some others, and some of the picks from some teams struggle to adhere to any statistical rationale.  During the draft, I tweeted that 'it's not difficult to imagine the edge that a smart data-driven team would have considering many of the picks so far', and, concluding this week's blog post, that statement still looks relevant in both T10 and T20 cricket at the current time.




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