Why the Orange and Purple Caps are flawed

The system based on Neanderthal thinking doesn't rate performances by their impact.


By Jaideep Varma & Jatin Thakkar

Given the helplessness of conventional statistics to determine who the most valuable batsmen and bowlers are in a series or a tournament, the Neanderthal system of Runs Tally and Wickets Tally suffices, as the Orange and Purple Caps are prominently celebrated every few days as movement happens on those respective fronts.

We do a comparison here of the Orange Cap contenders currently – that is, the highest run-scorers of IPL 2012 so far, with who the highest impact batsmen actually are. And then of the Purple Cap – the highest wicket-takers of IPL 2012, and who the highest impact bowlers really are. Whatever the tenor of the disagreements, some interesting extra insights do emerge.



Despite Sehwag being the highest run-scorer, right now Gautam Gambhir is the highest impact batsman of IPL 2012. He nudges out Virender Sehwag very slightly only because of a marginally higher Runs Tally IMPACT (very interesting, given that he actually has scored 11 runs less than him in the tournament so far – but Runs Tally IMPACT measures the proportion of runs scored by him in the context of every match, and Gambhir’s proportion is slightly higher).

By no means do we want to take away from Ajinkye Rahane’s outstanding performances (we hope they get him into the national squad, in fact) but the fact is that, despite being second on the run-scorers list, he is 11th on the Impact list.

His Strike Rate IMPACT has been barely reasonable (just about manages to stay positive). He has not absorbed any pressure this season - the only player amongst the top 10 run-scorers who has not absorbed any pressure. He also has the highest batting failure rate (not managing an IMPACT of 1 in a match) amongst the top 10 run-scorers, alongside Gayle and White - both of whom however have done better than him both on Strike Rate and Pressure Impact.

Rahul Dravid is low on the Impact list (9th) as compared to the run-scoring list solely because of his negative Strike Rate IMPACT (-0.14).

Robin Uthappa also suffers on the Impact list because of his negative Strike Rate IMPACT (-0.22). Mandeep Singh also just about manages a zero Strike Rate IMPACT. Both of them are also the lowest amongst the top 10 run-scorers, when it comes to Runs Tally Impact – proportion of runs scored in the context of every match, which means they scored more runs in relatively high-scoring matches than low.

Kevin Pietersen, 12th on the run-scorers list, with 305 runs in his 8 matches, is 4th on the Impact list – he is very high both on Runs Tally IMPACT and Strike Rate IMPACT and also has had the highest impact on the remaining batting parameters – Pressure, Partnership Building and Chasing Impact.

The highest Strike Rate IMPACT batsmen (which calculates strike rates relative to every match; minimum 5 matches) so far are Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, AB de Villiers, Kevin Pietersen and Chris Gayle. According to conventional cricket statistics, the highest strike-rates are by AB de Villiers (3rd on the Strike Rate IMPACT list), V Sehwag (1st), Irfan Pathan (8th), Chris Gayle (5th) and Cameron White (6th).

The highest Pressure IMPACT batsmen (which calculates the pressure of falling wickets that a batsman has successfully absorbed; minimum 5 matches) so far are Kevin Pietersen, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, Sourav Ganguly and Robin Uthappa – the last two on cue, as Pune Warriors was found by us at the start of the tournament to be the side that was likely to absorb the most pressure. Conventionally, it is not possible to calculate this, of course.

The highest Chasing IMPACT batsmen (which calculates the impact batsmen have while chasing down targets; minimum 5 matches) so far are Kevin Pietersen, Rohit Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle and Shaun Marsh.



The bowling charts are a little more in synch – at least at the top – where Lasith Malinga and Morne Morkel are perched, on both charts. Sunil Narine – this year’s most noticed bowler and the best spinner by a distance, is the fourth highest-impact bowler in this IPL.

Muttiah Muralitharan, who has played just 5 matches so far in IPL 2012, is the third-highest impact bowler despite taking just 8 wickets (not even in the top 15 wicket-takers). His high Economy IMPACT takes him to these heights – as does his low failure rate (failed just once out of the five times he has played) -- an indication of how much RCB have blundered by not playing him right through the tournament (it may cost them heavily).

Three players who are high on the wicket-taking list go low on the Impact list due to their inconsistency – high failure rates as bowlers (failure rate means not being able to register an impact of even 1 in a match). Munaf Patel has taken 12 wickets but has a high failure rate of 56% - failing in 5 out of his 9 matches.

Kieron Pollard also has taken 11 wickets but with a very high failure rate of 63% - failing in 5 out of his 8 matches as a bowler. Umesh Yadav also has taken 10 wickets but with a high failure rate of 55% - failing in 6 of his 11 matches. Jacques Kallis also has a high failure rate of 45% - failing in 5 of his 11 matches as a bowler.

Amit Singh has taken 10 wickets in his 9 matches but has a lower impact because of his negative Economy Impact (-0.18).

The highest Economy IMPACT bowlers (which calculates economy rates relative to every match; minimum 5 matches) so far are Lasith Malinga, Sunil Narine, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dale Steyn and Daniel Vettori. According to conventional cricket statistics, the highest economy-rates are by Sunil Narine (2nd on the Economy IMPACT list), Lasith Malinga (1st), Ankit Sharma (7th), Wayne Parnell (19th) and R Ashwin (9th).

Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Christian and Harmeet Singh have broken the most partnerships in this IPL so far. And Kevon Cooper, Umesh Yadav and Siddharth Trivedi have built the most pressure on the opposition (by taking wickets in succession).

Most years, the Orange Cap winner is not the highest impact batsman of the tournament. The Purple Cap winner is the highest impact bowler a little more often (but not always) simply because there are fewer variables in the circumstances in which wickets are taken in any cricket match, whatever the format.

However, by not combining the various facets of batsmanship and bowling, and only awarding the highest tallies, the sport that perhaps has the most nuances amongst field sports is actually unable to acknowledge those who performed the best in various aspects.

And often misses the mark when it comes to awarding the most deserving players. Sadly, there are many alternatives to ensuring this does not happen (Impact Index is certainly not the only solution). But they do nothing.

They just perpetuate this wrong year after year.

For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com

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