Enabling Next-Gen Cricketers with AI

What do you expect when a mechanical engineering student puts his mind to sports? First, he will decode the so-called art of the sport in a more scientific way, then he may emulate the best possible ways to show the world how it is done by being a professional cricketer and adding his name to the record books as India’s most successful test spinner of all time with staggering 619 Test wickets. Yes, I am referring to none other than Anil Kumble.

We all saw him donning the coaching hat for team India after his retirement and working closely with Javagal Srinath and Rahul Dravid to provide excellent inputs towards betterment of Karnataka cricket and youth cricket levels too. But his ambition is far bigger to this. He is putting through his engineer mind and working with a team of enthusiastic AI engineers to revolutionize the world of cricket with more than we can ask for.

His latest addition to cricket is an invention called Powerbat errr or SmartBat if you will. Anil Kumble’s company Spektacom is working hard to bring an AI-driven analytics tech to cricket bats. The company has prepared a sensor circuit that can be placed on any ordinary bat at it’s back, just like a maker’s sticker. What this does is that it starts collecting data from the bat’s usage.

The array of sensors includes a Gyro meter, a vibration sensor, a speed sensor, a swing sensor & a Bluetooth sensor. These sensors start collecting data as soon as one starts using the bat after putting the sticker on. The data then is sent to a small device that needs to be within 10 Meter distance. (place it with stumps mic if you will) and that device will push the data to cloud remotely.

New Delhi: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in conversation with former Indian cricket team captain Anil Kumble during an event in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Shahbaz Khan (PTI11_7_2017_000127A)

This technology is powered by Microsoft’s Azure platform and Microsoft is betting big to enter the cricketing tech through this enablement.

What happens next is what Anil has been doing for ages. Analysis of this data. Anil was notorious in collecting detailed footages and data about his own bowling when he was a cricketer, to identify areas to improve and he did the same for Team India as a coach. Now, this data coming from the bat is used to the the style and methods of a cricketer.

As they say some cricketers have their signature shots, whether you talk about Sachin Tendulkar’s straight punch drive, or Rahul Dravid’s cover drive, or Virat Kohli’s flicks, or even unorthodox shots like DilScoop by Dilshan or the signature reverse sweep sixes by AB DeVilliers, every shot can be recorded as data by these bats if the player plays them.

This will help viewers to get more stats coming out of the field, also it may help the cricketers to better their shots by identifying little chinks in their shots (like small bat turns in the hands or playing too early or too late to miss the sweet spots of the bats).

End result would be a strong data enabled technique drill down given to next generation of cricketers to improve on their shot timing and accuracy. Talk about tilting the scales even more towards batsmen than ever.

What he needs next is the adoption of this technology at a wider scale so that the machine learning algorithms can attain better accuracy with time. In a cricket crazy country like India where cricket is not just a game but a religion, Kumble may be writing the gospel in the bible of cricket training soon.

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