The Cricket World Cup is a complete feast for fans all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of Cricket enthusiasts tune in every day to watch live streams, re-watches, post-match analyses and some even keep themselves updated with live scores now readily accessible via the Internet. Over the years, Cricket and other major sports have undergone a massive evolution – both in terms of how they are watched and how they are played. Technology has not only made Cricket more accessible to fans around the world, it has also changed the entire dynamic of the sport.
Even up to a few years ago, Cricket was predominantly guided by an umpire. If that finger went up, the batsman would have abruptly walked off the field. The umpire had the final say in the cricketer’s fate in a match. Off the field, cricketers relied merely on physical practice to better their game. However, technical advancements, particularly in Data Analytics, have taken the sport to a completely different level.
Run rate, strike rates and averages have always been talking points for cricket. But now, with advanced data capturing techniques, players, coaches and critics can meticulously analyze every aspect of a cricketer’s performance. These insights can contribute significantly towards an enhanced performance and match strategy.
Likes of Hawk-Eye, Infrared HotSpot and Snick-o-Meter almost eliminates the need for an on-ground umpire. It tracks ball trajectory and provides a much more augmented viewing experience to the audience.
Lately, analytical advancement in the sports industry has turned its face towards improving the playing elements of the game. The bat sensor, introduced in 2017 by Intel, has taken a step towards revolutionizing cricket. Its prime goal is to generate data for every stroke that a batsman plays. The sensor is connected to a mobile app that collects data for back-lift angle, bat start angle, bat speed, power index and rotational angle of the wrists. The bat sensors were used by players in the last Champions Trophy and is seen in the current World Cup too. Australian batsman David Warner has been famously using a bat sensor in his practice sessions to further his batting technique and methodology.
With such advancements, players can receive instant feedback. Data collected by analysis tools, helps identify problems and provides players with the minor or major tweaks they need to take their performance up a notch.
Speaking of how data augments Cricket, Narayan Sundararajan, Principal Engineer & Director at the Intel New Technology Group explained,
“Cricket is a complex sport. It has twelve different strokes and each player has their own style, so there’s a huge number of variables. What we can do is coordinate metrics such as backlift angle and swing, then correlate that with Hawk-Eye data to show how effective the shot is and how it might be improved.”
“During the Champions Trophy match between India and Pakistan, Mohammad Amir was bowling brilliantly. So when India’s Virat Kohli came in to bat, he adjusted his bat backlift to cope with Amir’s 145mph deliveries, bringing it down to counter them. That’s the sort of subtle adjustment that teams are looking for. Using that data, we can come out with clear and actionable conclusions that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.”
While these advancements certainly help batsmen, bowling is one area which is still open and waiting for robust technology for real time analysis. Or is bowling action too complex to be analyzed by contemporary sensors? Surely, bowling is fifty percent of the game of cricket and it demands the progression- progression that could bring in quantification of different dynamics of bowling. So the question remains, will we be seeing technological development in this domain of cricket any time soon?
These questions are vital for the game. As all other international sports use data analytics, cricket on the other hand has a greater ability to leverage the vast amount of data generated. In the times to come, cricketing experts anticipate data analytics to play an important role in the way cricket is played and watched. The question remains, when?