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Expanding the capabilities of AI and Data Analytics in Cricket

The Indian Premier League has just kickstarted and the cricket lovers can not contain their enthusiasm. Undoubtedly, cricket is the most celebrated sport all around the world. And over the years, technology has reformed the experience of traditional cricket.

The first technological breakthrough in cricket started in 1996, when renowned bowler Anil Kumble, designed a software package, similar to the scoring sheet using data analysis. It was the first digital system that Indian Cricket system ventured into. Since then, technology is invading cricket in all domains.

Snickometer, Hawk-eye, Drone cameras and Duckworth-Lewis rule are some of the examples where technology has successfully integrated into cricket.

As cricket is unpredictable, it is usually governed by many factors. In this article, we will dive into technological innovations like AI, IoT and Data analytics, which are transforming traditional cricket.

Forecasting an Event in Cricket
In the year 2018, Superstars was launched by ESPNcricinfo, to forecast the events of the game. Superstars is the combination of Luck Index, Forecaster and Smart stats, which uses the ESPNcricinfo’s rich ball-by-ball database and the complex algorithms developed by IIT Madras and Gyan data, to predict the events of the game.

Moreover, expanding the role of Artificial intelligence and Machine learning, this database also explores the capabilities of a player in the hiring process. Since this database is open, transparent and can be analysed by anyone, it outsets the speculations of favouritism during the selection process, especially in events like IPL and T20, thus giving fair chance to every player. The algorithm in this database functions on the quick response, fate quantification, and process judgement in real-time.

Speculur BatSense
Integration of AI and data analytics is not confined to the cricket field, but these two components are permeating into the player’s game as well. To analyze the capability of a batsman in the game, Intel installed Internet-of-Things (IoT) enabled sensors into the bats to create smart wearables specialist Speculur called Speculur Batsense. 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. The data is stored in the cloud, and thus becomes available during Live Match broadcasts in the prediction tables and graphs.

Atul Srivastava, the Speculur Managing Director says, “Speculur BatSense with Intel Inside has the potential to transform cricket across a varied audience from coaches to aspiring self-taught cricketers.”

Power Bats
Anil Kumble, academically an engineer and professionally a cricketer has often regaled about the amalgamation of technology with cricket. He has often tried integrating technology into cricket, to improve the quality of the game.

On October 2018, he became the Ambassador for Microsoft’s Spektacom, an IoT-based sensor sticker, the size of the card, that measures the quality of a player’s shot by capturing data and analyzing the impact characteristics through wireless sensor technology and cloud analytics. The sensor sticker captures the details such as the bat speed, the twist of the bat at the time of the impact with the ball, quality of the shot and the power. All these pointers help in Power Spek Score.

The data from the power bats are analyzed using a powerful AI-model, developed by Azure and transferred to the Microsoft edge for continuous feedback to the player. The sticker is located at the rear blade of the bat, beneath a regular sponsor sticker.

One of the most challenging tasks for the cricket sponsors and umpires is to make this data available to the broadcasters. To address this challenge, the Microsoft team aids the communication of this unique sticker with the Bluetooth Low Energy with an edge Device called Stump box, which gets buried behind the wicket. The data from the stump box is transferred and analyzed in Azure and shot characteristics are shared with broadcasters in real-time. Due to security restrictions and limited network access, the Stump Box is powered by Microsoft Azure Sphere based Hardware Platform.

Smart Stats Metrics
The umpires are often saddled to keenly observe the game, to declare the results. The lack of focus can alter the outcome of the game. Due to the different processes happening in the cricket ground, keeping concentration over the game becomes a strenuous task for the umpire.

Launched in 2018, the Smart Stat Metrics is a database governed by data analytics that allows the fans to judge the performance of the players in a limited-over match. It takes into account the pitch conditions, quality of opposition and match situation, to judge the capability of player for taking pressure. It has the following metrics: Smart Wickets, Player Quality Index, and Pressure Indices, thus covering the entire game.

Forecaster Metric
It uses data analysis to predict the score, based on battling strength of the team, bowling strength of opposition, batsman V/s bowler head to head numbers and phase-wise strike rates and economy rates for batsmen and bowlers.

Integration of technology into cricket has a positive outlook. Just like artificial intelligence is making the predictions and cricket easier, in the near future it is a high probability that we will not require an umpire in cricket.