What makes an ideal T-20 Batsman?

May 3, 2011

It’s a question that has often crossed my mind. How should a T-20 batsman be judged? Should he be judged based on how far and often he hits the ball beyond the boundary? Does a quick 20-30 suffice? Does a ‘long’ (relatively speaking) inning that anchors the side carry more weight? These are all legitimate questions and I’ve tried to think of a quantitative approach to answer them. This, of course, does no harm to the notion that Indians (and Asians, in general) love cricket because they are good with numbers. So be it.

For my reference, I’ve chosen data from the 200 odd IPL matches played in the last 4 years. The choice of data is based on convenience, primarily. Firstly, I’ve followed IPL matches closely and second, the sample size is big enough to draw some reasonable conclusions.

Looking at an average innings score of 160, which is considered par for most T-20 games, if I remove some 10 runs (generally speaking, the “extras”) from the score, the average T-20 score turns out to be 150 per innings. An ideal T-20 batsman should therefore have a SR of at least 125 (150/120 balls). Simple mathematics, really. So far so good.

Apart from the Strike-Rate, what’s also important (obviously) is the number of runs scored. If we look at the overall IPL records, there’s one name that often goes unnoticed – Shaun Marsh. He’s a batsman in the classical mould and can also hit the long ball. In my opinion, he’s the most valuable batsman in the IPL. Why? Firstly, because he’s the fastest to score 1000 runs in the IPL, at a very impressive strike rate of 141.  He also averages 56 in the IPL. That’s the equivalent of a triple-crown in batting – high average, high strike rate and high number of runs scored. What’s really impressive is that he has only taken 21 innings to score 1000 runs. That’s less than half the innings taken by Sachin Tendulkar to score approximately 1500 runs. Very impressive, indeed.

When we talk about batsmen in T-20 cricket, it’s also important to quantify their performance based on their position. An opener has a different role to play compared to a batsman coming in at six. The ideal “opener” should be someone who stays till the end. If not the end, then at least for as many overs as possible. The base SR cut-off of 125 still applies, but a high average is also a must for the opening slot. The number 3 batsman can also be lumped in the same category as there’s a good chance he’d have to face a majority of overs, in case a wicket falls early.

For lower order batsmen, the average isn’t quite that important, but the SR definitely is. A lower order batsman (coming in below 5) should have a SR of over 140 (ideally over 150). Lower order batsmen should also be measured according to their six and four hitting capabilities. Albie Morkel and Yusuf Pathan clearly fit this bill. While Yusuf has played innings up the order, his six hitting skills and high SR make him an ideal finisher. Pathan’s excellent SR of 160 is ideal for T-20, especially the slog overs. He has also hit 66 sixes in the IPL, good enough to put him in the top 5 in the six-hitting list. Albie Morkel has a SR close to 150 with 38 sixes to his credit. These are good numbers on their own, but he’s also a left-hander and that gives him the added advantage as a lower order batsman (Bowlers usually struggle with their lengths against left-handed batsmen).

Since I’ve relied on mathematics & logic so far, it’s entirely logical to expect any batsman batting between the top three & six to fall in between the two extremes. The table below summarizes my hypothesis:

S.No.

Batting Position

Min Strike Rate

Ideal Average

1

1-3

125

40

2

4-5

125-140

30-40

3

6-7

140+

20-30

For your reference, you can catch all the IPL batting stats (combined) at the following link:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/indian-premier-league-2011/engine/records/batting/most_runs_career.html?id=117;type=trophy

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