Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Why the Impact Index never gripped cricket fans

Why the Impact Index never gripped cricket fans

When Indian filmmaker and writer Jaideep Varma unveiled the Impact Index as an alternative statistical system in 2009, it was believed it might change the way performance was tracked in the sport.

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The idea behind the system was to contextualise performances to determine which players had the greatest impact on matches.

According to Varma's system when applied over the history of One Day International (ODI), West Indian Viv Richards was the greatest ODI player of all time.

The index quickly became the most written about system in cricket, but like many of the game's statistical gimmicks, it soon fell by the wayside.

Cricket fans aren't known for wholeheartedly embracing new ideas and despite most believing that a player's worth cannot always be accurately reflected by the traditional yardsticks the system never caught on.

It was never widely utilised by broadcasters and to the casual observer appeared to be too complicated to even begin to understand its workings.

In 2017 Varma sought to challenge fondly-held notions about the sport with a book entitled Numbers Do Lie: 61 Hidden Cricket Stories. The Impact Index was discussed along with anecdotes related by co-author, former India international and commentator Aakash Chopra.

The book and the very notion of the Impact Index challenged the use of certain key statistics to measure player performance, but as an alternative system, it proved too complex.

Selectors still take note of traditional performance measurements, and fans still use traditional cricketing statistics when debating amongst themselves.

The buzz Varma's ideas initially generated has not brought about any changes to cricket's front of house, which is the game we see on tv and the data they displayed alongside the action.

The backroom staff will do an in-depth analysis of player performance and look beyond numbers and coaches and selectors will take many other things into account when selecting a player than his or her average. There are no recorded instances of analysts of teams using the system.

It doesn't help that the Impact Index wasn't made available to the general public as a searchable database in real-time or as an archive.

There is obviously more to the game than raw numbers, but many cricket fans enjoy having black and white stats to back up their opinions.

The Impact Index never gained the trust of fans which is why it hasn't taken the game by storm as it was expected to back in 2009.

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