What is Impact Index?
It is an analytics system used in the game of cricket to determine the accurate worth of a player’s performance, in a match, team and career context.
What is its salient feature?
It measures the impact of a cricketer’s performance in a specific match on a scale of 0 to 5, entirely in the match context and relative to the other performances in the same match and then in the context of the series or tournament that match is part of – this is the big idea in the system.
How does it work?
Since every match has its own fingerprint based on the context of the performances during the game, this system determines a base figure (in runs) for every match. Then, every performance in the match is measured as a ratio against this base figure (and the result limited to 5 in a career context).
Why is the scale only between 0 and 5?
To avoid the skews of conventional stats systems (like averages) where one big performance can cover for repeated failures thereafter, limiting it to a maximum of 5 in a career context keeps it more accurate. The construct of the system also makes the Impact number roughly representative of how many players job is done by the player (an Impact number of 2.65 means he has done roughly done the job of 2.65 people in the match), so it makes it meaningful also on that level. Doing 5 players job (if all contributions are deemed equal) comes up as the right measure in a team of 11 players.
To give a simple example suppose a batsman makes 0, 0, 0, and 160 in four ODI matches in a series. His batting average would be 40 which is pretty good, actually too good for someone who failed 3 out of 4 times. Here, his Impact would be 5/4=1.25 which is a much more fair measure. If that 160 helped his team draw the series from behind, then its value would be considerably enhanced accordingly. Imagine doing this across careers, the results are very interesting. If we did not limit his Impact to 5 in that last game, the skews from it would be very similar to what happens with averages.
What are the elements the system measures?
Within a match context, it is able to measure all sorts of thing never done till date. For batsmen, the system can evaluate how much pressure (of falling wickets) he absorbed successfully, the impact of the partnerships he built and of course, the impact of his strike rate (which is different from the usual “strike rate” numbers quoted for players). For bowlers, it can spot
Everything is measured from the scorecard. There are no external inputs taken from anywhere.
What makes it better than existing systems?
It is clearly better than batting and bowling averages as the skews that result inherently from those methods are intrinsically avoided. This system enables a more holistic measurement by taking into account the context of the performance (intangibles like state of the pitch, state of the match in which the performance happened, strength of opposition, even the state of series/tournament within which the match is occurring), which has always been considered beyond the realm of cricket statistics.
It is better than other rating systems because more than being a statistical system, Impact Index is a different lens with which to evaluate the game. It does not number crunch with external factors but organically from what exactly transpired in the specific match (which also results in far less unnecessary crunching). This leads to far fewer assumptions and a far, far more objective system, which also makes it much more accurate in its essence.
It is a very versatile system that can be extended to cover almost any aspect of cricket more accurately than before. Most importantly, it is a transparent, honest system that cannot be manipulated. Conclusions cannot be just arrived at and hidden behind the opacity that all other systems seem to eventually display.
Is Impact Index skewed since it gives less value to great players who play weak teams? Doesn’t Impact Index concentrate on performances which won the match for the team, thereby giving those performances a higher value?
No, it does not, contrary to what has been reported in news reports previously. On a match-by-match basis, it absolutely doesn’t. It gives a higher value only to high impact performances (above an impact of 4) which come during crucial times (for the team) in a series or a tournament and/or determines whether the team progresses or wins. Series/ tournament context gets extra value, not match value.
However, it is also true that players who play for weaker teams register a lower impact than others (who play for stronger teams) not because of lower impact in the match but because they because they get fewer
Is this system basically for geeks and therefore unnecessarily intimidating for a normal fan to get into?
Actually, it is exactly the opposite. Impact Index is specifically designed to simplify existing cricket statistics for the masses (which is why it is also fundamentally different from Sabermetrics in Baseball, of “Moneyball” fame) while making it much more accurate and meaningful than anything that has ever existed before. All the statistics you see used on television are actually reduced to one single number between 0 and 5 for a player. What could be simpler?
You can see an Impact scoresheet as a report card for a match where each player has got marks out of 5 (up to two decimal points) for the impact he actually had on the match. Newspapers and websites often do this highly subjective (sometimes, outright whimsical) exercise after a series or a tournament by an “expert” assigning points out of ten (whole numbers) for players. Imagine if that could actually be done scientifically, match-by-match. Well, that is exactly what Impact Index does.
Once you get the fundamental idea that every performance is measured on a scale of 0 to 5 (in a career context) in every match it actually becomes very easy.
If you want to know exactly how it works, unlike Rating systems, we are happy to reveal our process. Our Methodology section explains the steps involved (without yet revealing the proprietary algorithms though we hope to soon).
Is it not just another rating system, and therefore subjective?
We prefer to not call ourselves a Rating system because of the inherent subjectivity associated with those. We don’t rate; we measure, using elements inherent to the scorecard, and not looking at anything outside it. We do not add external weights; we do not try to account for context by playing with individual elements.
Within the construct of Impact Index, even when it appears to limit and choose between choices, even a little scrutiny will reveal that there is only one logical choice that can be made which doesn’t really make it a choice, and therefore makes it scientific, rather than subjective.
Simply put, Impact Index finds a way to measure (and this is the key word) the ratio of every cricketing performance and the other 21 performances in the same match. That is the big idea, and the rest is detail.
Is Impact Index’s version of the truth the only one?
No, it isn’t. Impact Index basically brings to light an alternative universe where hard facts from the scorecard are used to determine the real value of players’ performances within the context of the match. Without sentimentality, romanticism and aesthetic considerations. The picture it paints is considerably different at times from the picture that is shown in media and what is discussed by most people. Whether you choose this alternative point-of-view to temper the mainstream view, to complement it, or to replace it is a call you have to make, and you can actually do different things at different times.
Are there no mistakes in the system; is everything perfect?
No. There is constant fine-tuning going on, and we believe that should be an ongoing process. But even from its earliest stage, Impact Index was more holistic and more accurate than any other evaluation system that has ever existed in cricket. This is not a point-of-view but a provable, somewhat obvious reality if one spends a little time researching its findings.
On a match-by-match basis there will be certain fine details that are not expressed via Impact Index (like when a tail-ender consumes time to draw a Test) which we are hoping to resolve as we go along. Those details, however, have little or no bearing on career numbers, which we believe are more accurate than anything else so far.
Why is it called Impact Index?
Fundamentally, the system measures the impact that a player has on a particular match. It does not measure potential or talent or flair. . . just the actual deeds of the player in that match relative to the deeds of the other players. From the information only contained on the score sheet.
A player has Impact Index figures for every match he participates in (when he does not participate in a match, in any capacity, it is not included in his career chart) and when those are added up and divided by the number of matches he has played (in a series or over a career), it gives a truer picture of his value to his side and his ability more than anything ever has in the game so far.
What are the main applications of Impact Index?
It is a flexible system that has the potential to be applied in a variety of areas. The evaluation of an individual cricketer with his mean Impact Index over a career (with a higher value for series/tournament-winning performances) would be far more meaningful than his batting or bowling averages or the career aggregate statistics usually around that. A variety of other factors are measured in the above process, which have so far never been factored-in for measuring a cricketer’s performance. For example, a batsman’s ability to play under pressure throughout his career, or a bowler’s propensity to break partnerships. Team strengths are also measured in this system – which leads to a more accurate team ranking system than any other.
There can be a variety of uses of Impact Index from this. Besides broadcasting and media options to make cricket statistics much simpler and yet more accurate for cricket consumers, it can also be used effectively for deciding winners of individual awards like man-of-the-match or man-of-the-series/ tournament more scientifically than ever before in the game’s history.
Ranking systems, cross-era and current, are more accurate than any system with Impact Index.
Given the manner in which Impact Index clearly measures character, it can be used for selecting players, composing teams and analysing the opposition as a complement to the other (conventional) analytics.
What does Impact Index aim to achieve?
It seeks to complement (and not necessarily replace) time-honoured systems first so that its efficacy can be fully comprehended. However, in T20, it seeks to be the statistical system of choice as no other system (especially batting/bowling averages, strike rate, aggregates, etc) is anywhere near as adequate. This system’s fundamental accessibility (everything reduced to a figure between 0 and 5) also makes it a promising option for the mass version of the game.
The system also seeks acceptance from various cricket boards as it is a better way to evaluate and select cricketers than any other system. The system is being fully automated to be zero-error and lightening-fast. It will also take every cricketer who has ever played the game, in any format, through its comprehensive database.
As an entity, Impact Index seeks to emulate Hawkeye as a standard that has added to the game, though in an entirely different sense. Just like Hawkeye is being called upon to make umpiring decisions more accurate, Impact Index can be used to make cricket statistics more accurate and meaningful all at once.