Shakib the MVP, Warner slips down on Smart Runs list

Feet off the ground as Shakib Al Hasan plays a square cut Getty Images

Halfway through the 2019 World Cup, Shakib Al Hasan and Aaron Finch occupy the top two slots as the most impactful players of the tournament so far, as calculated by ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats. The methodology takes into account not just the runs, wickets, economy and strike rates, but also the following:

  • The bowlers against whom the runs were scored

  • The importance of wickets taken, in terms of quality of batsman dismissed, match situation, and the batsman's score (early or late in his innings)

  • The pressure on the batsman/bowler, in terms of the match situation, when he batted/bowled

  • The over phase in which the overs were bowled/ runs were scored (Powerplay, middle, death overs)

All these factors go into calculating a batsman's Smart Runs, and a bowler's Smart Wickets and Smart Economy Rates. According to these calculations, Rohit Sharma's 319 runs are worth 341, while Mohammad Saifuddin's nine wickets are worth 10. Based on these smart values, a player's impact score is then calculated, taking both batting and bowling numbers into account, and putting them on the same scale.

Shakib's total impact score so far in four matches 561.8 - 423.6 for his batting, and 138.2 for his bowling. His total impact score is 62 points clear of Finch, who is in second place with a score of 499.2. Pat Cummins (11 wickets at an economy rate of 4.48), Rohit (319 runs at a strike rate of 97.6) and Mohammad Amir (13 wickets at an economy rate of 4.7) round off the top five, which has a fair representation of batsmen, bowlers and allrounders.

Rohit tops match impact list

While Shakib tops the overall impact numbers, the top impact performance in a match so far is Rohit's stunning 113-ball 140 against Pakistan. The strike rate of 124 is high enough, but Rohit also gets extra points because he was the enforcer while he was at the crease: in the opening-wicket stand of 136 with KL Rahul, Rohit scored 75 off 65 balls, compared to Rahul's 57 off 78; while Rohit was at the crease, he scored 140 off 113 (strike rate 124), while Rahul and Virat Kohli contributed 87 off 118 balls (strike rate 74). Thus, there was extra pressure on Rohit to ensure he made up for slow scoring at the other end, and he did so superbly, which is why his 140 is worth 156 Smart Runs.

In terms of the Impact Score, Rohit's innings fetched 260 points, around 17 more than Jason Roy's 153 off 121 against Bangladesh. While Roy's strike rate of 126 was similar to Rohit's, his partners struck at a rate of 89 while he was at the crease, compared to 74 in Rohit's case. Finch's 153 off 132 is up there too, while Mohammad Hafeez and Shakib round off the top five. Hafeez made 84 against England, relatively fewer runs than the others in the top five, but he was again the enforcer, striking at 135.48 while his partners scored at a rate of 104 while he was at the crease. Hafeez also got 57 impact points for bowling, as he took the key wicket of Eoin Morgan early in his innings, and went for only 43 in seven overs in a game where the average run rate was 6.7.

Shakib got more batting points than Hafeez for his undefeated 124 against West Indies, but Hafeez edged ahead because of his bowling: he gave away fewer runs per over and dismissed a key batsman early.

Warner slips up in Smart Runs stakes

David Warner is fourth in the list of leading run-getters in the tournament so far, but his 281 runs have come at a relatively poor strike rate of 77, which is almost 20% lower than his career strike rate of 95. It is also much lower than the overall strike rate of all openers in this tournament, which is 91.6. While he has been at the crease, Warner has scored only 40.7% of the runs, which means he has generally played second fiddle to his partners.

All of this has dampened the value of his Smart Runs - the true value of the runs he has scored - with the figure dropping to 230. In terms of Smart Runs, Warner is in seventh place, with Joe Root, Roy and Steven Smith all going past him even though they have scored fewer runs than Warner has, in absolute terms. Finch's sparkling form has allowed Warner to play second fiddle, but with the business end of the tournament approaching, Australia will want him to become the enforcer again.