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The Greatest T20 Players Of The Decade
The Misbah-Jogi System
The 2010s are the first full decade of T20. The form has acquired its own franchise league circuit. It has also gained in status as an international contest. The twenty over contest has revealed a distinct internal logic compared to the longer fifty over form and of course, Test cricket. There is, however, a gap between the players who genuinely excel at T20 and the players who are considered its superstars. Broadly, the latter set comprises of players who are outstanding Test and ODI players and are consequently some of the biggest names in cricket. If T20 is to emerge from the shadow of the more traditional forms of cricket, its best players must be considered on its terms.
A few years ago, I devised a system of evaluate T20 performances. To pay tribute to the iconic final over of the 2007 World T20 final which was bowled by Joginder Sharma, and faced by Misbah-ul-Haq, the batting measure is called the misbah measure and bowling measure is called the jogi measure. I’ve updated these measures recently and describe them here.
At the start of each delivery in the first innings of a T20 contest, there are exactly two finite resources in play - the number of wickets in hand (w), and the number of balls remaining (b). The task in the first innings is to score the largest possible total within 20 overs. For example, at the start of the 7th over of a 20 over innings, there are 84 balls remaining. If a team has lost 2 wickets in the first six overs, then the first ball of the 7th over falls in the category [7, 2, 84] - it is a delivery in the 7th over with 84 legal deliveries remaining and 2 wickets spent. Supposed the match is shortened to 16 overs, the first ball of the 7th over would fall in the category [7,2,60]. It is debatable whether the over parameter is required to establish a category, but it is useful to separate the shortened game from the full length game, so it has been left in. If resources are to be considered in their purest form, then it could be argued that the over need used to establish a category.
The ball-by-ball record of T20 games can be used to calculate the average runs scored from each expected delivery. For example, the fifth ball of the first over of a 20 over 1st innings with all 10 wickets in hand (category [1,0,115]) produces, on average, 0.946 runs, while the fifth ball of the 3rd over of the same innings with all 10 wickets in hand (category [1,0,103]) produces 1.245 runs on average. The actual run outcome on the delivery can be compared to this expectation to produce the net runs contributed by the batsman off the delivery. So, if the batsman gets a single off the [1,0,103] delivery above, the net batting contribution would be -0.245, while a single off the [1,0,115] would produce a net batting contribution of +0.054. The batsman’s net batting contribution per innings is known as the misbah score, while the bowler’s net bowling contribution per innings is known as the jogi score for the 1st innings of a T20 game.
For the run chase, matters are much simpler. The only relevant figure is the asking rate per ball at the start of each ball. For example, if 172 are required from 103 balls, then the asking rate is 1.670. If the batsman hits a four, the batsman’s net batting contribution for this delivery is +2.33, while if the batsman scores a single it is -0.67.
The best bowlers have negative jogi scores, while the best batsmen have positive misbah scores. Based on the ball-by-ball records for 5748 T20 matches since the start of 2010, the batsmen with the best misbah and jogi scores are given below.
Overall, 67 batsmen have scored at least 2000 runs batting first since the start of 2010. AB de Villiers managed 6.991 runs per innings better than the average expectation and tops the list, while Virat Kohli managed 1.967 runs per innings and comes in 45th. Note that when batting first, the best players all have positive misbah measures. Note also the varying lengths of the average innings (bf_per_inns gives the balls faced per innings). Andre Russell contributes +3.542 runs per innings on average while facing only 12 balls. Finally, note also that players with similar average innings can have comparatively large difference in their misbah figures. Aaron Finch’s average innings is 35(25), while Kohli’s is 34(26). Yet, Finch’s misbah figure is nearly 7 runs per innings better than the average expectation, while Kohli’s misbah figure is just under 2 runs per innings above expectation. This is because the misbah figure gives the performance relative to the average expectation. The comparison of Finch and Kohli’s figures suggest that Kohli is more cautious than Finch in situations where the average player is cautious.
59 bowlers have bowled at least 1500 deliveries in the 1st innings of T20 matches since the start of 2010. The top 45 bowlers according to the jogi measure are given below. For bowlers, the top performers are the ones who concede less than the average expectation. Compare the figures for Lasith Malinga and Morne Morkel. Even though both concede 30 runs in 24 balls in their average innings, Malinga’s jogi measure puts him 1.523 runs below (or better than) the average expectation, while Morkel’s jogi measure puts him 0.584 runs above (or worse than) the average expectation.
47 batsmen have scored at least 2000 runs in T20 chases since the start of 2010. Readers should note that one feature of a single innings limited overs contest is that fewer runs are scored in the 2nd innings compared to the first. That this must necessarily be the case can be seen from the fact that team’s batting first can win by varying margins (1 run, or 10 runs or 100 runs, or 120 runs, or some other number of runs), while the team batting second needs to score only 1 run more than the team batting first to win. Since run chases are successful only about 50% of the time, in the aggregate the total runs scored in the chasing innings is smaller than the total runs scored in the setting innings.
A few notable anchors like Kohli, Dawid Malan, Shoaib Malik, Brad Hodge, Kumar Sangakkara and Ajinkya Rahane bring up the bottom of this list.
Readers should note that there is a special case in the chasing innings where the required runs per ball can be above 6. For such deliveries the average expectation is set to 1.399 (the average runs per ball asking rate across all deliveries. This is equivalent to 8.4 runs per over). It is very difficult for batsmen who play later in run chases to have high misbah scores, since they barely keep up with the rate even in wins.
For this reason, here is a misbah score in run chases considering only those parts of the chase where at least 30 balls of the chase were still outstanding. This includes on those batsmen who make at least 2000 runs in these first 90 (in the case of a 20 over chase, less in a shortened chase) balls of a run chase. This shows just how invaluable the top order players who leave their sides ahead of the asking rate off their own bat are. It also demonstrates the perils of anchoring.
As readers probably expect by now, the jogi figures in run chases show the most prolific bowlers doing significantly better than the ask. To see why consider that a when a team wins by 20 runs defending 180, the chasing team has scored 1 run per over less than the requirement.
But these jogi figures for run chases also indicate something further. They indicate that the best bowlers get seen off (batsmen tend to concede deliveries to them to save themselves to attack other, lesser bowlers), because trying to keep up with the asking rate against them is considered unnecessarily difficult. The jogi figure captures the effect of this fact.
The misbah-jogi system measures a player’s contribution in the context of the resources remaining and requirements of the contest at the start of each delivery. It is made possible by the availability of ball-by-ball records of T20 matches thanks to ESPNCricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary. The matches considered here are those which are classified as Twenty20 or Twenty20 International matches by ESPNCricinfo.
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