08 July
2019

Big Data & Analytics- Know how numbers (data) are shaping the Cricket world

It is no secret today that the game of cricket (much like any other sport) is played as much off the field as it is played on it. Gone are the days when instinct and talent were the only drivers and determiners in the outcome of the game. The role of Big Data and analytics has changed the way this game is being played today. What is cricket if not a game of numbers (data), after all?

There can be two versions of analyses done with the data collected. Firstly, to keep the audience/spectators interested by providing them with captivating statistics and helping the commentators to further engage with the audience. Secondly, to help the players/coaches/team data scientists derive strategies basis the expanse of data available about other teams as well as theirs.

Consider this. What if we told you that the analytics has reached a level where this can be predicted- If India drops Rohit Sharma from the team, the chances of winning drop by 2.5% (hypothetically) whereas if South Africa includes Ab de Villiers, their probability increases by 15% (hypothetically). Intriguing, right? Can you now imagine the amount of data processed about these players’ performance history and then predictively analysed by a learning software to derive on this?

Here’s some more insight into the data being collected and analysed (not an exhaustive list)-

Data Collection Points-

1. ICC appoints specific organisations to collect data while the match unfolds. Also, to deploy cameras that provide both real-time feeds and stores the data for future reference. There are also drone cameras, ultra-motion cameras, front and reverse-view stump cameras etc; the feeds from these are then stitched together to provide 360 degrees view of the game. Data is being captured every second.

2. There are devices/sensors worn by players to track their fitness/exhaustion levels, fitness, sleep, calories et al. This also gives insights to determine how to play to a player’s strengths and not against.

3. Needless to say, there is data getting captured on every step and sprint of each player. For a batsman, for example, the data captured will include the number of balls faced from each bowler, the areas on the field where he found success, how he got out, what was the strike rate etc. Similarly, for every participating player, year on year. Gives you an idea of the amount of data that is involved.

Data Analysis-

1. The performance of the player is analysed by internal data analysts to construct detailed on-ground strategies. All possible parameters are analysed and used for derivations which are then fed to the players before the next match or even during breaks.

2. Predictive analysis of the pitch, weather and even the match are provided basis the data available. Cricket is a lot about records and who’s breaking them. A lot of times you shall hear the commentator say, “The last time we saw this strike rate against this bowler was in 2015 at xx stadium”. This is possible because of the insights available to them in real-time. And a part of this is what we as spectators also see on our TV screens. An immediate graph of where a batsman has hit his maximum 6s doesn’t appear by magic, data enables this analysis.

3. There are millions of conversations that are initiated on social media around this subject which are the start points to many campaigns by broadcasters, advertisers, sports management companies and ICC itself. Sentiment analysis is a huge part of this game as well.

And yet, this is only a window to the widely intertwining world of cricket and data. There are organisations working on building bats and balls with sensors in them in order to collect data from the equipment itself while it is used to play the game; we are likely to see this at play by the next World Cup. ICC partners with SAP in order to analyse statistics and just to give you a brief idea- the data on all players’ performances, scores, profiles etc. gets updated every 20 seconds! Hence, in each cricket game henceforth, let us be aware of the synergies that come together to create the magic we experience on our screens; data being a tremendous part of it.