Cricket, what can be said about it? No words, only emotions. Does it happen to you too? That is how it is. For some, it may be just another sport, but when we look at it particularly in the Indian context, the sport has a meaning far beyond a game.
The face of this game has kept changing from the time of its origin. The game of cricket has completely changed over the decades from the time the first official test was played in 1877, between England and Australia at Melbourne, at least that’s what we believe. Yet as per Sportskeeda, “The first-ever cricket match between two countries was played between USA and Canada on 24-26 September 1844 at St George's Cricket Club in New York.”
We are living in the age of technology where we are entirely surrounded by it. Cricket being such a big sport, celebrated all around the globe, could not have been kept unaffected by technology for long. The involvement of technology in cricket has kept rising over the years. From third umpires to hawkeye and Decision Review System (DRS), to power bats and helmet cams, the advancements have kept on being incorporated.
Now, we enjoy the game of cricket, being played in any part of the globe, from the comfort of our homes. Technology has made it look so real on the screen that our enthusiasm never drops.
Let us explore the use of different technologies in cricket, especially artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and data analytics, through this blog.
Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are among the top trending technologies of the decade.
Cricket is the most celebrated sport is also using AI and IoT together to enhance the experience of viewers and the players. We will look at some of the examples of their use in cricket.
Speculur, a Bengaluru-based sports-tech startup collaborated with Intel to come up with a sensor named ‘Speculur Batsense’. The bat sensor powered by Intel Curie technology can be mounted on the top of the handle of the bat.
The sensor would generate data for every stroke a batsman plays. It has storage onboard to retain the session information, and Bluetooth connectivity to enable real-time data transfer.
"Speculur BatSense has the potential to transform cricket across a varied audience from coaches to aspiring self-taught cricketers,"
- Atul Srivastava, Managing Director, Speculur
The sensor measures six key areas:
Time to Impact: The time between the back-lift of the bat through to the impact of the ball.
Bat Speed at Impact: It will also measure the bat speed when it hits the ball.
Maximum bat speed: This is measured between the back-lift and the follow-through.
Follow-through angle: This measures the change in the angle of the bat after it has hit the ball.
Impact angle: It also measures the angle of the bat at the moment of impact.
Back-lift angle: This measures the angle of the bat within the back-lift when the ball approaches.
This technology was used in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. This device has a low-power system-on-a-chip (SOC), which is fixed on the bat and gathers data by using a machine learning algorithm with every stroke.
TV commentators use this technology to analyze the cause of dismissal of a batsman, how a batsman deals with a particular bowler, and also how much maximum bat speed they can generate.
You can watch this video explanation by Nasser Hussain to understand the working of Speculur BatSense.
Anil Kumble, the man who bowled with a broken jaw, took a great interest in the amalgamation of technology with cricket. Being a tech lover and holding an engineering degree, he has tried integrating technology into cricket, to improve the quality of the game.
Anil Kumble partnered with Microsoft and came up with Spektacom, an AI-powered cricket bat that uses an IoT-based sensor sticker.
The idea of power bats revolves around using IoT sensors to collect crucial insights on a batsman. Spektacom uses a mini sticker sensor on a cricket bat to collect data on the quality, speed, twist, and swing of the bat—to help professionals improve their game.
“We’ve always heard experts talk about how a batsman is more powerful than the others. How he’s middling the ball and hitting the sweet spot consistently. But what does all of that really mean in numbers? At Spektacom, we were focused on building non-intrusive technology. The form-factor was critical, especially when it comes to professional players.”
- Anil Kumble, Founder and CEO, Spektacom
Power Bats use an innovative sensor-sticker that measures the quality of a shot played. It captures data and analyzes impact characteristics through wireless sensor technology and cloud analytics.
Power Bats, Source: Spektacom
This unique non-intrusive sensor weighs even less than 5 grams that can be easily stuck behind the sticker on the shoulder of a bat.
The data generated by Power bats is analyzed with the help of powerful AI models that are developed in Azure. This data is then transferred to the edge for continuous feedback to the players.
In professional games, these stickers communicate with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) with an edge device called stump box buried behind the wickets.
The data from the Stump box is transferred and analyzed in Azure and the characteristics of the shot played by the batsman are shared with the broadcasters in real-time.
Watch Anil Kumble explain the working of Power bats.
ESPNCricinfo, a cricket website, launched SuperStats in the year 2018 to forecast the events of the game.
The website writes about SuperStats on its page as a “new language for numbers-based story-telling in cricket”. The series makes use of three elements namely Smart Stats, Luck Index, and Forecaster, to predict an event in a game.
These metrics have been derived by using the rich ball-by-ball database from ESPNcricinfo and the complex ML algorithms developed by IIT Madras and Gyan Data.
Smart Stats puts each batting and bowling performance into context by looking at match situations and player quality.
Luck Index is a metric that calculates the luck event for a team or a player. It gives results after identifying lucky events like dropped catch, a missed run-out, a wrong decision by an umpire. Luck Index makes use of complex algorithms to calculate the run value of an event.
Forecaster is a tool that looks into the future and predicts the winning probabilities of a team. The following factors are taken into account when calculating the predicted score:
Batting strength of the team (including batsmen to follow, at every stage of the innings)
Bowling strength of opposition
Batsman v bowler head-to-head numbers
Phase-wise strike rates and economy rates for batsmen and bowlers
Data analytics has become a very useful technology in recent times. It has also become a part of strategy formation in cricket matches.
Cricket being played at the global level demands high involvement. Players from across the globe participate in a cricketing event like the World Cup.
ICC has been using SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAP Lumira software to analyze the statistics on scores, player performance, player profiles, and more. This information is updated every 20 seconds.
Let us look at some other uses of data analytics in cricket.
The fusion of Big Data Analytics and Cricket is referred to as Criclytics. This is used by teams to make accurate decisions about a game that is generally considered as unpredictable.
Criclytics is being used to keep a track of players’ performances, intake of calories, training levels, interaction with fans, and much more in the pursuit of improved performance on the pitch.
The insights derived from Criclytics are used by broadcasters, fans, and players to gain enough background information about the team’s performance and make the right decisions.
The fusion of Cricket with Data science gives birth to CricScience. Data science is not merely helpful for predicting the most favorable team for a tournament but it is also helpful in extracting valuable insights for other use cases.
From players to coaches to sponsors, data science can make a huge difference in cricket.
It can be utilized by teams to decide on critical situations in a match like to form a strategy and trap a batsman, decide which bowler should bowl a super-over, what should be the field placement against a particular batsman, and many more.
For example, in the recently concluded India vs Australia, Border Gavaskar Test series, Steve Smith was dismissed multiple times while trying to play a shot off his legs.
Also, Virat Kohli was caught at the short cover while playing one of his favorite shots against Sandeep Sharma in the IPL 2020.
Insights by ESPNcricinfo is an amalgamation of cricket and Big Data Analytics. With the intent of creating a set of products to slot in fans in this multi-screen era, the tool makes use of 2 decades of historical cricket data statistics and data points.
Insights by ESPNcricinfo
These are only some of the examples of uses of AI, IoT, and Big Data Analytics in cricket. Apart from these technologies, Snickometer, Hawk-eye, Drone Cameras are also examples of modern-day technologies being used in cricket.
Technology has transformed the whole experience of cricket for viewers as well as players. Some reckon the increased use of technology as a threat as it can affect the quality of the game.
However, cricket is a popular sport that can not be kept at a bay. The sport needs to go hand-in-hand with technology.
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