Cricket is set to have a Moneyball-esque ODI series next year with a computer picking teams for a North vs South of England tournament in Abu Dhabi.
Two teams will be picked using the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valued Player ratings formula, which is akin to the sophisticated sabermetric approach postulated by Michael Lewis in his 2003 book Moneyball.
Faced with a limited payroll and a player exodus, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane assembled a competitive team alongside assistant GM Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players’ value. He recruited players based on a points system, which is not too dissimilar to how next year’s cricket tournament will play out.
The PCA’s MVP rankings were launched in 2007 and reward players for their contribution to the overall team result. Batsmen receive points for run rate and percentage of team’s score as well as bare average, while bowlers earn higher points for dismissing top-order batsmen.
England’s managing director Andrew Strauss said the computer model offers a “good opportunity for England, domestic players and the game.”
“Finding the best players outside the current England set-up, playing them against each other in overseas conditions and placing them in an England environment will help us see if they’re ready for international cricket.”