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Darren Baguley
Contributor: Darren Baguley
Hitting it for six with big data

Statistics have been a big part of cricket ever since John Wisden founded the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 1864, but the advent of computer graphics, digital video cameras and sensors has revolutionised cricket broadcasting in the twenty-first century. Graphics show the trajectory of every shot a batsman plays during his innings, whether it’s a few dozen or hundreds, and frame-by-frame video shows every nuance of a bowler’s action.

Visual graphics

Visual graphics have become an integral part of the cricket-viewing experience. The Hawkeye visual graphic shows the track of the ball to determine whether it will come off the pads, on to the stumps. The Hotspot infrared imaging system can tell whether the batsman hit the ball or not, and whether it hit his pads. Not to mention the Manhattan graphic, which shows how many runs have been scored in each over, and the Snicko, a graphic that shows if the batsman edged the ball or not.

Melding the old and the new

But if cricket broadcasting technology is impressive, the work done for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 (CWC) to meld information graphics with big data and mobile apps has made this year’s competition truly one to remember. A streaming mass of data for each and every match has been available for a while, but for the CWC 2015, this data was interwoven with 40 years of One Day International (ODI) cricket data for the first time.

As a result, the mountain of data publicly available for the CWC 2015 provided a truly remarkable level of insight for those who could use it properly. Want to know the percentage of leg breaks bowled by a bowler in an over, a match or a series? Or do you want to know the number of wickets attributed to each bowler throughout their entire career? Or would you like to know the highest-rated batsman on each team? All this information is available via the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 app, which updates every 20 seconds to three million cricket fans worldwide.

Individual players the fans' focus

Purists may obsess over statistics, but most cricket fans are fascinated by the individual players, so the CWC 2015 was focused on providing as much information as possible about each player's performance. For example, the International Cricket Council (ICC) ranked the top 50 batsmen and bowlers of the tournament using nine data elements, or criteria, to assess the players.

These criteria included old standards, such as the total runs scored or wickets taken by a player, but quickly dived into the sea of data to look at how quickly they scored the runs; the total number of fours and sixes they hit, and how many times a player got out for fewer than 10 runs. Other statistics included when a batsman scored his runs; the number of ducks, and their long-term average.

Every fan is a coach with predictive analytics

As if this wasn't enough, the ICC then placed predictive analytic functions into the hands of anyone who downloaded the app. Will Shakib Al Hasan come around the wicket during the batting power play phase of the match? Will Martin Guptill hook during the first 10 overs? Does Steve Smith prefer to face off spinners? The ICC used big data to put together statistics that fans could use to derive conclusions on their own – all done in almost real time, which makes you wonder what the ICC and big data will come up with in 2019.


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