March 25, 2007

Form Factor : A Consulting Approach to Indian Cricket

The disastrous performance of the Indian Cricket team in the World Cup will no doubt spawn an outpouring of unimplementable solutions like "change the coach / captain", "get fresh players" etc .. however all these and other respectable solutions are useless because the people who are entrusted to implement any of these are all (a) corrupt and (b) incompetent and there is no hope of anyone who is not corrupt or not incompetent to find a place in the cricket administration.

Hence I would like to propose a solution that is absolutely person independent ..

  1. Let us create a catalog of all possible first class cricketers in India.
  2. Let us define a metric against which the performance of any cricketer can be measured. This could be in terms of runs scored, balls faced, number of 4s/6s, wickets taken, runs given away and so on.
  3. This metric should be moderated by certain weighting factors, like 'strength' of the opposition ( obviously, 50 runs scored against South Africa in a ODI counts for more than 50 runs scored against Bengal in a Ranji Trophy and so on )
  4. Based on this metric for the last 30 matches, we should define a Performance Form Factor for each the cricketers on the catalog.
  5. Any team for any match should be chosen strictly according to the descending order of PF Factor for the individual cricketer. No selectors with their hidden agendas and no consideration for the past greatness of people like Tendulkar please ! At best, we can have ONE wild card entry based on the combined judgment of the captain and the coach.
There are two difficulties for this approach
  1. Can we really come up with any such metric ? Obviously I cannot, but there should be competent people in the country who can come up with one such ... something like the Duckworth-Lewis metric. And in any case, even if the metric is not perfect, the selection arrived at through this approach cannot be any worse than what is happening right now with our so-called Selectors.
  2. The second and more serious difficulty is procedural. The current crop of administrators cannot be expected to give up their discretionary powers at the alter of such objective algorithms. They will fight tooth and nail. So who will force them ? Not the government ... since government ( or rather politicians ) have brought the team to this state so they have a vested interest in keeping it like this. The best option is the Sponsors -- those who have no emotions but have the maximum skin in the game. Let them arm twist the BCCI to follow a more objective mechanism of team selection.

I understand that such a complete loss of faith in the cricket administration is a phenomenon that has not happened anywhere else in the world ( with the possible exception of Pakistan ) .. but India is different and we should lead the world to come out with a unique solution to our unique problem.

May I suggest that some interested and competent Indian fans create this PF factor anyway, even before it is acknowledged by the cricket administration. Then when actual teams are chosen, we can compare the PF factors of those actually chosen with those left out and will have an objective measure of the subjectivity in Indian Cricket

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