Tushar Deshpande: The king of chaos

How one man is trolling the purple cap

If you are not obsessed with Tushar Deshpande, then you are just not paying attention. He is having one of the craziest years in the IPL ever. He is right-arm chaos.

No bowler has ever taken more than 15 wickets while going at over ten runs an over. It’s almost not possible to take this many wickets and still go for runs, at a certain point, batters slow down against you just because you take so many wickets. Or, because of all the wickets, teams play you differently.

Neither has happened to Deshpande. He has gone for half a run an over more than any player ever with this many wickets.

Now five of the most expensive are in the last two seasons, suggesting that it’s at least partly down to teams scoring more. But even so, Deshpande’s economy has dropped, for over half the season he was going at more than 11 an over. It is truly a jaw-dropping performance.

But let’s start with what he is doing well. On our metric of true wickets, which looks at what overs you have bowled, and what amount of wickets we’d expect, he is second in the league, and until Mohammad Shami’s latest star turn, he was by far the best. If they want him to take wickets, well he is taking the hell out of them. And he’s taken a third of them in the powerplay, so these aren’t just death wickets.

This is a great season when it comes to striking.

On this graph, we just looked at bowlers with 200 deliveries in a season. Deshpande is averaging 20 runs per wicket. And going at ten runs an over. You can see him very clearly here on his own, we have simply never seen a season like this before. Unadkat has been more expensive - he is the only one who ever has been. But his year makes sense, he went for a lot of runs and couldn’t take a wicket.

The fact that Deshpande has managed to take wickets and still go for runs, and doing both things on such a grand extravagant scale is amazing.

A lot of this record has to do with the overs he has bowled, and they are really tough. In every game he gets the second over, which is usually fairly easy, and then from then on in he gets the hardest powerplay overs and the death. There is not a single over in the cushy bit in the middle. It’s just pain all the way through.

And there is something funny about all this too, because in that second over he gets asked to bowl a lot, his economy is 6.4, and that is from 10 overs. It is the only over he bowls more than once where his economy is under ten.

In fact, if you take out the second over - where he also averaged 16 - his economy in the rest of the game is 11.7. Basically, two runs a ball. He is a massive plus in one over, and a negative all the way through the rest of the innings.

But this also explains the high overall economy. For instance, you will see that Arshdeep Singh is up here as well. Still a way off Deshpande, but the second highest ever. In fact, there are a few high economy seasons of late, so we have to check and see if there has been a change.

And there has been.

This is currently the highest runs per over in the history of the IPL. In fact, this is the first year with an economy above nine. Now the season isn’t over, so that can drop. But as it currently stands, this is the most expensive year ever. And so that would make sense that someone like Deshpande would have a high number from his bowling.

So the best way to work out if he is actually this bad is to look at his true economy for this year. And you can see he is still the worst, and not by a little. Even on true economy, he’s 0.6 runs an over worse than second best. And there are three other bowlers I want to focus on here. Arshdeep - who is having the second worst economy in high wicket season - is actually at almost neutral for runs per over.

But I will pick out two more bowlers. The other purple cap holder, Rashid Khan is again fairly neutral, holding his own. And for him or Arshdeep, when you factor in their wickets, they’re having top years. Then there is Mohammad Shami, who is beasting true wickets and true economy to a massive amount.

Let’s just look at the two fellas. Clearly, Deshpande is as good at taking wickets as Shami is, so yay for that. But their true econs are wild. One is 1.4 runs an over worse than a standard bowler delivering those, and the other is that much better. So there is a 2.8-run swing per over between them.

And yet they share the purple cap. This season is probably the worst advert for the most wickets winner ever.  Like if Deshpande gets the award, it’s invalidating its very existence. And it was already silly, but this will just put silly in purple neon lights.

One thing to add here is this isn’t just this year. It isn’t that Chennai were a guy short and they made their net bowler fill in for the most expensive overs ever. Deshpande has bowled almost as much in previous years as he has this one. And when you look at bowlers with 300 balls in that period, he still has the worst true Econ.

In fact, if you take out this season, Deshpande is actually worse. He is 2.6 runs an over on the bad side of true economy. That is almost unbelievably high. So this year he has actually been better than in previous years. That and the wickets are why he has not been dropped yet. But them keeping him in - partly inspired by Chahar's injuries and others not stepping up - means we have never seen anything like this before.

But it gets better. Because if you look at his numbers for true wickets, he has been a below-average striker until this season. This isn’t some guy who has always taken a lot of wickets. Beforehand, he used to go for a lot of runs while taking less than average. And now he has turned that one part of his game around so much that he’s been leading the league in wickets.

This is not just the batters smashing him, he also has one of the worst balls per extra ratio that I can find in any IPL season ever.

Look, I could sit here and do this all day. There is so much to analyse from his career.

It would be easy to say this is all a fluke, or that there will be regression to the mean, maybe even that he has changed his game in such a way that he can keep taking his wickets. But at a certain point, I think trying to analyse what is going on here is the wrong approach.

Deshpande has found a way to completely maximise entertainment. Dragged from the nets to the big stage, he’s either being hit for sixes or taking wickets. There is literally something for everyone in his deliveries. The perfect IPL bowler.

This may not be repeatable, perhaps he becomes a normal bowler in the future or just disappears back into the ether. But for now, shall we just celebrate the fact that Tushar Deshpande is the most entertaining cricketer in the IPL? Long live the king of chaos.