We have been constantly told that the predictive record of a statistical system is evidence of its efficacy. The idea of sport being overly predictive is repugnant even to us.

But over time, we have understood the value of calculating a team’s collective potential based on the sum of its parts – that is, by using each player’s individual impact within the context of his experience.

It is interesting to see how much within the potential of its individual constituents any team often plays. This is why it is a meaningful exercise, as some players play above or below potential while some close to it – but over 11 or 15 players in a side/ squad, the team impact does come close to its individual constituents for the most part.

The magic of the whole (the implication of the chemistry between team members, or a coach enabling a couple of players to overachieve for a while, for instance) eludes any kind of analytics, which is how it should be in any human endeavour. And yet, this doesn’t seem to happen as often as one would assume.

We have been publishing projections before premier ODI and T20 tournaments since 2011. Initially, it was on our own website, then Yahoo in 2012 and finally Wisden 2014 onwards. That’s seventeen tournaments over 6 years where we arrange all teams as per impact, and the top 4 then constitute our pick for the four semi-finalists. We also pick a “dark horse” from the remaining sides, only to make the semi-final (often the fifth-highest impact side, but not always).

THE SEMI-FINALISTS PICK

Here is our record for the seventeen tournaments so far.

EVENT CORRECT SEMI-FINALISTS PROJECTED 
World Cup 2011 2.5 out of 4*
IPL 2011 3 out of 4
IPL 2012 3 out of 4
World T20 2012 2.5 out of 4*
IPL 2013 2.5 out of 4*
Champions Trophy 2013 3.5 out of 4*
CLT20 2013 4 out of 4
World T20 2014 3 out of 4
IPL 2014 3 out of 4
CLT20 2014 2.5 out of 4*
World Cup 2015 4 out of 4
IPL 2015 2.5 out of 4*
BBL 2015/16 2.5 out of 4*
   World T20 2016  2 out of 4
IPL 2016 3 out of 4
IPL 2017 3 out of 4
Champions Trophy 2017 2 out of 4

                                

*including dark horse

So, Impact Index has got at least 3 of the 4 semi-finalists right in 9 of the 17 tournaments so far. In 2 of those tournaments, it got all 4 semi-finalists right.

Impact Index has correctly predicted 48 of the 68 semi-finalists of these 17 tournaments. Thus, the forecast success ratio in getting projected semi-finalists right is 71%.

Curiously, only twice in these 17 tournaments, the winner has not been from amongst the four projected semi-finalists. So, based on this record, the probability that one of our projected semi-finalists will be the eventual winner is 88%. 

ON A MATCH-BY-MATCH BASIS

In these seventeen tournaments, going by the Impact position of each team, we look at a match-by-match projection for each team based on their impact standings for that tournament, even though this is not anywhere as meaningful as an examination of the semifinalists line-up.

Tournament Number of Matches Success %
1 WC 2011 41 76
2 Champions Trophy 2013 14 71
3 WC 2015 49 86
4 Champions Trophy 2017 15 62
Total ODIs 119 78
1 IPL 2011 74 62
2 IPL 2012 75 67
3 IPL 2013 76 55
4 IPL 2014 60 52
5 IPL 2015 57 53
6 CLT20 2013 19 58
7 CLT20 2014 23 65
8 WT20 2012 26 65
9 WT20 2014 23 70
10 BBL 2015/16 35 51
 11 WT20 2016 23 52
12 IPL 2016 60 63
13 IPL 2017 60 53
Total T20s 611  57
Total (T20s and ODIs) 730 60

 

We examined 730 matches over 17 tournaments in these 6 years. And 439 of these had the higher impact team before the match began prevailing.

So, that’s a 60% successful forecast rate on a match-by-match basis.

Interestingly, it is 78% for ODI tournaments and 57% for T20 tournaments. Clearly, T20 cricket is much harder to predict on a match-by-match basis but curiously not a semi-finalists line-up. Which also gives an indication of how the fine details often are not as significant as the big picture that is painted.

Incidentally, getting 86% of our match-by-match forecasts right in the 2015 World Cup made it the most predictable tournament of all on this list (we got all 4 projected semi-finalists right too). It probably felt predictable too, didn’t it?

Conversely, while we also got all 4 projected semi-finalists right in CLT20 of 2013, our match-by-match forecast was only 58% right. If you examine it more closely, it was a much more interesting tournament. That’s the kind we at Impact Index enjoy the most, as we suspect do the fans.

Additionally, in these 17 tournaments, we also looked at the lowest impact side we projected and examine if it was among the bottom two sides in the tournament. This happened 7 out of 17 times, which means an accuracy rate of 41%.

These percentages suggest that Impact Index’s projections are more than favourably comparable with such exercises done in any sport anywhere in the world.