The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Value for money???

Huge sums of money have been spent on some of the big names in world cricket for participating in the Indian Premier League. But, after almost three weeks of action, one has to question the wisdom of spending such big bucks.

The inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 created a stir when the successful bids were announced. The 2009 version saw two huge sign-ups each of which was bid at 1.55 million dollars – Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff.

Both were abject failures. Pietersen, who captained the Royal Challengers Bangalore side scored two ducks in his first four matches, and, after six matches he played, notched up a measly 93.

His England colleague, Andrew Flintoff, broke down with a recurrence of an ankle injury after just three matches during which he took all of two wickets and scored 62 runs.

Such a colossal waste of money.

I am not a statistician, but merely one who enjoys the game. But, when watching some good and some abject performances, my thoughts turned to the benefits that have accrued through the presence of a few of the prima donnas of the sport.

For sure, the presence of the big names adds to the aura, and pulls in the crowds, but from a purely performance point of view, the payback has been abysmal.

I thought of looking at some numbers just to see what the arithmetic looks like.

I have considered all matches till the 4th of May. The information used is published data that is available. Using this, I have looked at the fundamental indices, viz. how many runs a batsman has scored per match he’s played in, and the average cost of that run. The price per match is based on the fact that each team plays fourteen matches during the round robin stage, which then becomes the theoretical number of matches for each player – hence auction price divided by 14 is the price per match for that player. 

The analysis throws up some interesting facts.

ipl-batting1

Kevin Pietersen has been the biggest flop. Not only has he contributed a mere 15.5 runs per match he’s played in, each of those runs has cost $ 7143. Flintoff has been a flop, too. Compare that with the 289 runs scored by Mathew Hayden as a cost of $ 649 per run, AB De Villers’ 181 runs at $ 829 or Suresh Raina’s 264 runs at $ 1231. Gautam Gambhir, an otherwise outstanding player, has put in a poor show, too. Interestingly, the so-called elders of the fraternity such as Tendulkar, Dravid, Gilchrist and Hayden have performed at a level that should say a thing or two to the others.

JP Duminy, Rohit Sharma, and Yousuf Pathan have done a good job for their teams. And, Dwayne Smith, particularly after his ruthless demolition in the match against the Chennai Super Kings on 4th May, has truly been “paisa vasool” (money’s worth) as a speaker of Hindi would say.

As for the bowlers, some interesting facts also emerge.

If one considers Andrew Flintoff’s role to be primarily that of a bowler, he has been one huge hole in the pocket. Two wickets in three matches, with each wicket costing $ 166,071. Wow!!

ipl-bowling1

One must say that the Mumbai Indians have got their money’s worth through the signing of Sri Lankan, Lasith Malinga. Some of the expensive youngsters might have taken wickets, but have done so at a fairly hefty price – Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan, for instance. And, it was nice to see the ageing warriors such as Anil Kumble and Shane Warne grab wickets at a reasonable enough cost.

What baffles me, though, is the fact that some franchises have paid big money for players they have not used at all. One such example is Mashrafe Mortaza of Bangladesh who was purchased by the Kolkata Knight Riders for a staggering US$ 600,000, and is yet to play a match. I am unable to fathom the reason for the decision to make this talented player warm the bench at a time when the team has already plumbed the depths of non-performance.

Likewise, the most notable contribution of England’s Paul Collingwood, who was bought by Delhi Daredevils for US$ 275,000, was, perhaps, carrying drinks for his on-field team-mates.

I know that there are several ways of looking at performance, return on investment, contribution, payback, etc. Mine was a simplistic way.

Yet, one is left with the feeling that the franchises need to a bit more selective and sensible when it comes to the 2010 edition. It’s not the hype and glitz alone that matters – if a player is not going to add significant value to a team, reputations count for nothing.

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May 5, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that, Cricket | , , , ,

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