(With inputs from ICC media release)

When I started following cricket couple of decades back, it was a simple game, involving a bat and ball. During those days, on the field of play, the human factor was more dominating than the technical aspects.

However, in this era of digitalisation and technological renaissance, things are not same anymore.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday launched a series of technological innovations in partnership with Intel, which is going to make the upcoming edition of ICC Champions Trophy, the smartest cricketing event ever.

With the focus of ICC firmly on enhancing the tournament viewing experience for fans, players, media and broadcasters, the innovations will use data, analytics and visualisation and ensure cricket remains at the forefront of technological advancements.

The technology being introduced at the ICC Champions Trophy includes an Intel drone that will provide advanced pitch analysis (For now, it will be used by the broadcasters only), a bat sensor powered by an Intel® Curie™ module that will allow for profiling of the bat swing and a VR experience for fans at the stadium.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Intel as our Official Innovation Partner of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017,” said David Richardson, Chief Executive of the ICC. “The innovations Intel are bringing to the game promise to transform how cricket is experienced and enjoyed around the world, and we look forward to partnering with Intel in this effort.”

Intel® Falcon™ 8 Drone, equipped with HD and infrared cameras for advanced pitch analysis. Image Courtesy: Sandipan Banerjee

Intel Sports Group Vice President Sandra Lopez highlighted the role of technology in transforming the way we play and view sports. With higher levels of digitization, Intel is in a unique position to enable the sports industry to capture and analyze data to uncover and respond to new insights in real time. “Our goal is to lead the way forward into the digitization and personalization of sports, transforming the way fans and athletes experience sports,” Lopez added.

For the first time, in a Champions Trophy, the Intel® Falcon™ 8 Drone, equipped with HD and infrared cameras will be used for advanced pitch analysis before every match. Images captured by the drone will offer rich visual data on pitch conditions such as grass cover, grass health, and topology, which will be used to generate daily pitch reports leveraged by commentators during broadcasts.

Nasser Hussain poses with the chip installed bat. Image Courtesy: Sandipan Banerjee

The new bat sensor powered by the Intel Curie technology that can be mounted on any cricket bat to generate data for every stroke that the batsman plays. With this technology, parameters like back-lift, bat speed and follow-through can be tracked for every cricket stroke. Several batsmen will use these bat sensors in the games at the 2017 Champions Trophy, enabling new insights on stroke play and rich story-telling in broadcast. Analytics from the sensor will be available for fans to analyse.

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

“Coaches can use their insights and expertise along with the bat sensor data to make specific adjustments to a batsman’s technique ultimately helping him perform better,” Srivastava added.

Speculur also announced plans to bring this technology to consumers later in the year. With SpeculurBatSense, hundreds of thousands of young and aspiring cricketers will soon be able to measure, track and improve their batting skills. Speculur plans to make Speculur Bat Sense with Intel Inside available in Australia, India, the United States and the UK in the second half of 2017.

Intel is also showcasing innovative experiences for in-stadium fans. Virtual Reality (VR) experience zones at The Oval and Edgbaston will allow fans to experience facing a virtual bowler in an immersive cricketing environment. Using a head-mounted display (HMD), the player will be able to test his or her batting skill against a virtual bowler. Using the Intel Curie technology enabled cricket bat, the player will be able to see data from their swing such as bat speed and back-lift angle as well as a simulated score from the VR session.

However, despite all these data and technology around, former England captain Nasser Hussain reminded us about the importance of human factor and ‘gut feel’ in the game.

“Data and what these guys do is very helpful, but never mistake it for the gut feel. You use data, you look at the data, coaches, players, but never underestimate the value of experience and gut feel for the game. That you can not teach anyone, you can not give anyone. It comes over time. So use whatever can, but also rely on what your instinct is telling you.”

Intel,  the Intel logo, Intel Falcon and Curie are trademarks of Intel Corporation and its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.


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