My big bowling board for the IPL auction

Notes on the bowlers from the last three years of the IPL

These are my notes on the IPL bowlers from the last three years. I apologise for any typos, but I decided to put this all down, so it probably has a few errors in it. But for those interesting, I think they'll like it any way.


The IPL auction is a bit of a random event because of the nature of an auction over a draft. You add the mega auction to this and two new teams, and a lot is going on here that won't make a lot of sense.

I wanted to take a look at the players who have already performed in the IPL over the last three years and see where they rank against their peers in their role groups.

I decided to leave the SMAT and Under19 Indian players alone because I don't see enough to add anything beyond the numbers. And as for the internationals from outside the IPL, I think they are very speculative because we don't know how they will go in this league.

So this is more like a ranking of the free agents (and retained players) within the league with all stats from the last three years, unless otherwise noted.

That said, I will not be ranking them on their play alone; I think local players are often undervalued in auctions and drafts. There are seven local players for every overseas. Local players also put the IPL first, all the time.

I think age is a significant factor as well. If you draft the next big 20 year old, they will only be 24 by the next Mega Auction - if we keep that cycle. If you draft a 32-year-old star, they will be 36 for their last season.

And I also want to factor in players with all-around skills, excellent fielding, and flexibility when looking at the rankings.

I have put each player in a group, it may not be the one you put them in, but I want to judge them against other players of their type.

We have looked at all the different minority forms of bowling, then at power play seamers and pacers, and then death pacers.

So with all that in mind, the number one player on a list may not be the best, but maybe an ideal person at this stage, or like really good at other things.

Left-arm seam

I am very underwhelmed with the crop here. I have no faith in my top selection, and it's possible my number three will have the best year. And my number seven could be massively overpaid but still end up being worth it. But let me show you how I came to all this.

Natarajan is 30, which is slightly too old for my timeline, but he's barely played any cricket, so I would hope he is still doing well in four years. But he was also injured last year. Which is even more of a concern. But he's an Indian bowler, he's certainly got more skill than most of the other locals, and when he was fit, he had a good year. He struggles to strike earlier in the game, but he goes at less than seven runs an over from overs 0-14. I wish he would strike more, and I worry about him at the death. But he can play.

I have Trent Boult behind him because he's the best left-arm pacer in the IPL over the last few years. It helps bowling with Jasprit Bumrah.  And he's 32. I have Mustafizur behind him, he had a great 2021, and if that continues, he'll be more value than Boult. At 26 his age is better, but I worry about his shoulder. I expect him to go for more money than Boult, but they could be about equal second here.

Next we get a hat trick of young Indian talent. I am not confident in any of these three, and if I could, I'd try to buy the cheapest option and hope that works. However Arshdeep Singh has been retained. I have gone with him first because he took wickets in the powerplay last year, and I value that high. But I wouldn't be surprised if he had a down year this season, but I am hoping at least the wicket-taking stays good. Sakraiya has a good Econ in the powerplay, but struggled to take wickets there. People overrated him at times. Khaleel Ahmed has great numbers, but really struggled last year. He should be a top option in the powerplay. But all three worry me.

Next we have Sheldon Cottrell, who we know can take early wickets but also go for runs, kind of a modern-day Mitchell McClenaghan. He wasn't in the West Indies squad for World Cup. And then I have Marco Jansen, who probably didn't bowl enough for us to realise what he can be in T20 yet, but, he's tall as hell and left-armed. There is a feeling he can bat.

I have Unadkat in here as well; we know he can only bowl in the powerplay, but he's tested there, and he doesn't go for many runs, though you'd expect more wickets from him at the top. The problem is he is comically bad after that, ten an over in the middle and 13 an over at the death. If you want a PP specialist cheap, he might be a decent option. But because this is a poor crop of left-arm seam, not helped by Sam Curran and Mitchell Starc pulling out, these guys might all go for runs.

I've also thrown in George Gartton and Daniel Sams because they offer left-arm seam and some hitting. Sams is very much a part-time bowler I think at this level, Garton is still in development.

Off spin

Yeah, this one is not too special either. I really struggled here, my numbers one and two are really all rounders. I wouldn't have them this high if they couldn't bat. Moeen is obviously with Chennai, so that leaves Washington. Now, I have him up the order here, but you have to know I am generally very high on Washington. But you look at his numbers, and you find it hard to overlook him. He has a better economy than Ashwin at the same average, and his batting is more important in T20. He's also 22, but very experienced. I think Bangalore misused him consistently through his career there.

Ashwin is 35, but he's still Ashwin right. I don't think he's a fantastic T20 cricketer, but he's still the king of off-spin. He's local, brings leadership and he can bat. It's probably better suited for a ragging wicket where he can knock it around a bit.

Sunil Narine is next, and he's already off the list. You can't replace him, so I can understand why KKR retained him. He's not the player he once was, but his ability to bowl defensively and occasionally hit very quickly is important.

Now, we start to struggle. So I'm going to go rogue here and pick Lalit Yadav. Now it's ok if you don't know who that is. He's 25, and so he hits our age range perfectly. He played for Delhi last year, and I thought he bowled really well. But they kept leaving him out, which I thought was a bit odd. But they had a lot of spin options, and while Lalit can bat, he averages over 40 in first class and one-day domestic cricket, his strike rate in 7 IPL games is less than a run-a-ball. But domestically he averages 37 striking at 154. You combine this with his bowling against left-handers, and I think this is a really good option, and I wonder how cheap he will be because of his struggles last year with the bat.

Jayant Yadav is next, and I am pretty confused about this. Mumbai have been using him as a left-hander specialist, but he's not really bowled that well against them and has actually been more economical against righties. He's 32, can bat, but he's been sitting on the bench for years. But in truth, I still think he's one of the better options. Which does tell you a lot.

Next is the two Afghanistan spinners, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Nabi at a cheap price is still worth having, his numbers are fine, he's above average in wickets and Econ. His batting has slipped, and he's older than sand, but he can bowl off-spin. Mujeeb (not technically an offie, but close enough), I feel like teams are wary of him in the IPL now, but he might slip in as a backup spinner with the expanded teams.

We finish up with two very frustrating local players. Hooda, who I suppose qualifies as a bowling all rounder now because he struggles so much with the bat. His bowling was not great last year, and he averaged 16 despite making 64 in one knock with the bat. He is good enough to play for India at the moment, and he's a real good age, but, he's played 7 seasons, and last year he averaged 16 with the bat and bowled 16 overs in 12 games last year. Expensive bits and pieces.

K Gowtham can bat and bowl, as a batter, he's more of a hitter, and as a bowler, he has been absolutely terrible. He didn't play a game last season. Last mega auction he was very popular.


Finally we get a bit more quality over here. Rashid Khan is at the top. His batting and economy push him ahead of Chahal. But I almost went with Chahal, and I think he could go for a fortune here. There isn't a better legspinner on the market from India, and the distance from him to the next best is a long way.

Next is Varun Chakravarthy, who is not a leggie, but leggie like. He's already off the board as well with KKR retaining him. He went for 8 crore, and the player I have next is Ravi Bishnoi, who went for four. There is a disconnect there. I think Bishnoi would have gone for more in the auction. And I think he is worth the same as Chakravarthy at the moment. He's younger, but also more untested.

Then it's Chahar, Who is almost dead on average for legspinners in the IPL, 7.4 an over and 26 runs per wicket. He's 22, and I don't see the upside of him over Bishnoi, he maybe has a lower ceiling but higher floor. With Bishnoi not in the auction, Chahar could really cash in.

I have Hasaranaga, who I am a huge fan of, and can hit, but we need to see more in the IPL. He went for runs last time. But bowled well in the World Cup again. He will go for a decent amount, but I'm not sure he's a banker yet. Through personally I've been backing him for quite some time.

Then there is a drop.

Together I have three local players next. Tewatia is famous for batting because of one innings, I really don't like his batting or bowling, but as a package, and a 28 year old, this might be his best period yet. But I am not convinced. He batted at 15/105 last year, and bowled at 42/9. Gopal took a lot of wickets in 2020, but the next year took very few and got some treatment. Last year he bowled 7 overs in three matches. He's a career 12/105 hitter despite batting talent. And the third is Murugan Ashwin, who was a pretty frugal leggie over a couple of years, and then last year played three times and got smashed. Because he can't bat, he's further down the list than the other two, but he might actually be the best leg spinner because he had the ability to keep it tight for three seasons. At 31, he's certainly not too old for a leggie.

Next tier is two old fellas and then Adam Zampa. Plenty of experience here, you are only getting bowling with them. But it is better bowling than most on this list. The problem is that Mishra and Tahir are very old, and Zampa seems a bit out of fashion. I think having any of these three on your bench as a back up leggie if you have the spot works. Mishra would be my first choice, just because he is Indian.

Left-arm orthodox

Ravi Jadeja is an obvious number one, Axar Patel is probably a slightly better T20 bowler, but Axar isn't one of the best death hitters in the league. So this is obvious. As is Axar second. And they  are both taken ready anyway.

Ok, now where do we go next? Because the list is quite interesting, Krunal Pandya should go next, but he had a shocking year and has been struggling for some time now. I like him as an opening bowler, but I am not sure his bowling is standing up outside of that. His last top year was 2018. He's had one good batting year since then, and no good bowling year, he can be frugal, but is allergic to wickets.

We could put Harpreet Brar next, he had a great 7 games and is a good age, but that is all he is, 7 games and age. There is some batting with him too. But not much. And you could link him to Shabaz Ahmed, who has outstanding figures, taking wickets at 13 last year, and going for 6.5 an over, but if you think Harpreet is untested, well Shahbaz bowled 14 overs in 11 matches. He didn't bowl in almost half his games. He bowled brilliantly to left-handers, but it was only in 15 balls. His SMAT numbers do suggest he is a quality player. But how will he go game after game. We won't know until that happens. It will be real interesting to see their prices.

Shakib Al Hasan is next for me. You can add him to the list of older spinners you can leave on the bench of Imran Tahir, Mishra, Mohammad Nabi. He didn't bowl well last year, his batting was non-existent as well, but for a bench option, he's still decent. You can add Mitch Santner to that, and I think his record is better than Shakib, but he hasn't bowled as much, and his batting is more handy than top order.

Abhishek Sharma bowls an over a game. He's ok at hitting, striking at 130, but one over a game, you'd want to be better than 16 runs per match with the bat. My guess is his good bowling numbers are from him only bowling when everything is in his favour.

Shabaz Nadeem had his last good year in 2017. And has been horrid since. He's a bench backup for matchups only.

Left-arm wrist spin

Tabraiz Shamsi bowled 24 balls last season, struggled in those, but you know, hard to take much from it. If you're desperate for a left-arm wrist-spinner, he's the best option in the world. But he's not exactly a secret, and there are fewer left-handers from India than other countries. I would still like to see what he would do in a full season, but I don't know if I'd take that shot on him, but with an expanded league, maybe he does get his shot.

Kuldeep has taken five wickets in his last 14 games, in 2018, he took 17 in a season. My guess is it's a technical thing, though most people will suggest it's confidence. If you want to add another name Jake Lintott is the one to watch.

Right-arm seam

I think it's better for right arm seamers to split them by where they will be most useful.

Powerplay seamers

So let's look at the best right armed powerplay quicks. Avesh Khan is my number one, I thought he was outstanding last year, and in the powerplay he's averaged 27 while going at less than seven an over. The fact he's a local, 25, and also he's a plus bowler in all three parts of the game mean that he's about to be very rich.

Jofra is the best powerplay bowler; he; 's going at less than five runs an over while averaging 14. Those numbers are comically low, and he would never be able to keep it like that. But he has bowled 250 balls, and that record isn't an accident. My only concern would be spending a fortune on him and then not being able to use him because he spends so much of his time bowling in Tests and he won't play this year.

I think it surprised some people that Delhi kept Nortje and not Rabada. But Nortje has a killer average up the top, and when I was ranking players on this list, that is what I looked at first. I want early wickets, and the players who deliver that are worth a lot. Also last season he developed a new slower delivery, he was already like a fast bowling golum, and now he's become sentient.

Deepak Chahar goes next. Have always been a fan of his powerplay bowling, and his ability to hit - displayed against the West Indies recently - makes him a great package. I think he's a safe pair of hands at the top. And while he has a good record late, this is where you want him.

Shivam Mavi is probably a surprise to some to be on this list, and in truth, he hasn't bowled that much and you could fit him as a middle overs or death bowler. But I think this is where he will give the most value, and he is also hitting 23. I liked compared to other local seamers is his economy.

Shardul Thakur is next; he goes at over nine runs an over, but takes wickets at powerplay at 31. 38 is the average for all wickets. When you factor in his hitting ability, he goes in above to safer options. If you can match him with lower Econ bowlers, he can probably deliver two overs and is a good chance of getting a wicket.

Bhuvi comes in; next, I would love to have him higher, but he doesn't take wickets anymore. But his Econ is 5.9. And that is because teams stopped playing any shots off him, which is why he has an Econ of 5.9. I wonder if when they do his average will slip back down. But he's a 32-year-old medium-fast bowler, and slippage in that pace and he's going to struggle.

Sandeep Sharma had eight good seasons before this. I am not ready to ship him out just yet. Still had an economy last year in the powerplay was 6.7, it's bowling outside of that which is a bit of a problem. But I still like him at the top.

Middle overs seamers

There really aren't many middle overs specialists, Pat Cummins, Hasan Ali and Liam Plunkett have made the position slightly bigger, but the IPL doesn't have many. But there are two that make sense for this role if you think it's something you need.

Harshal Patel was probably seen as more of a death specialist, but his real value for me last season was when he took his wickets, and 13 of them were in the middle overs. I don't think there will be that many again because a lot came from teams trying to mash him everywhere, surely next year they'll knock him around more, but that could mean he ends up with a low Econ. His batting is also handy, and so it gets him top spot, even if I expect some serious regression from him. But the revs he put on the ball were legit.

Mohammad Shami is obviously a weird choice here, but he just doesn't take wickets in the powerplay, and while he takes wickets at the death in big batches, he's averaging 17 in the middle. His powerplay is so bad, that I really think he could be incredible just bowling two in the middle and two at the death. If he was three years younger, I'd have him above Harshal.

The other specialist bowler is Prasidh Krishna. Who will eventually be a new ball bowler. But if you know he can bowl well in the middle and so far his average of 22 suggests that, as does his bowling for India, then I say take him, build an attack around knowing when he bowls, and then hope he becomes a new ball bowler in the back to two years.

The rest are the all rounders, Andre Russell, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya. Vijay Shankar has a surprisingly good record in the middle overs. We don't know if Hardik can or will bowl. And I like Russell bowling in the middle, not as much at the death.

Death bowlers

Chris Morris' retirement puts a hole in all this because there really aren't many specialist death bowlers. Morris was going at a run less than normal and averaging nine less than the death rates. Somehow despite being that good people still think he was overrated. That's why bowling at the death sticks, unless you have an economy of 7.8 like Bumrah. That man is scary.

Who to put next is trickier. The next best death bowler who isn't Morris is probably Dwayne Bravo. He's had a great three years at the end, but he's also older than running water. I can't put him second. The person with the next best economy is Nathan Coulter-Nile, but I am not ready to promote him, but his numbers are exceptional. The same with Jason Holder.

So I'm, going with Mohammad Siraj, who I hope in the next four years becomes more of a powerplay star, but at the moment, he's always going at less than nine runs an over. He is a good powerplay bowler, but he's just better at the end. Going at less than nine runs an over. And his age and the fact he keeps improving suggest that he's top tier for this.

Rabada's rate has been 9.46, but he has 49 death wickets in three seasons. I really want him to take more wickets when it matters, but as a death bowler, he's killing everyone.

Holder can bat, and Coulter-Nile can hit. Coulter-Nile has been a good death bowler for some time; Holder has been going at over ten runs an over while taking wickets at an average of 12. I prefer Econ at this end, but taking your wickets at 12 - or nine in the iPL- is pretty good. He seems to understand how to dismiss people at the death, but he goes. I think because of Holder's batting, he's worth more.

After them is Dwayne Bravo, his batting isn't what it once was, Chennai used his in and out the lineup last year, and he's 38. Because go how good his death bowling has been, he probably has a few more years left, but he's not the player he once was.

Kaul had a good year last season, but only played eight matches. But if you look at his whole career, he's under 9 runs an over at the death. His powerplay bowling is good too, but this is where I think he's at his best. His age and the fact he hasn't been used much worries me a bit, but as a local death bowler option, that will probably be cheap, I really like him.

Not sure how much of this is cogent or helpful, but hey, at least you know what I do now.