Like any team sports, cricket is a classically subjective game where we endlessly argue about who is the world’s best and what makes that individual the best in their team.
It’s all rooted in straight up legacy batting and bowling data. Whilst still massively relevant, English cricket analytics company CricViz takes it up another notch by delivering some of the most engaging predictive and live data for the fan, journalist, team or broadcaster.
The CricViz app brings greater insight into a live game’s probabilities while being an insightful tool to boost the match experience. An example is CricViz’s analysis of ball-tracking data which gives the user data on the quality of each ball bowled for evaluation and comparison.
We fired some questions to CricViz Co-founder & Managing Editor Phil Oliver where he gave us a bit more understanding about the company’s vision and how they are adding that extra layer of engagement, analysis and decision making to cricket.
Bullpen: How has CricViz & The Cricket Prof. helped drive an evolution in cricket journalism?
Phil Oliver: “We have always wanted to offer something different in the live coverage of cricket. There are plenty of good ways for fans to find out what is happening in a game, but I think the interesting thing is why they are, and that data analysis can help offer that insight. We’re not here to replace opinion in cricket and in fact can be seen as another viewpoint, just one that comes from a statistical base. Rather than driving an evolution I hope we have produced a new resource for journalists – our analysis can often support an observation or opinion.”
BP: As an official partner of Big Bash League franchise Melbourne Renegades, can you briefly explain how that partnership came about. How has your company worked with them during the current BBL season?
PO: “CricViz started with professional analysis in the 2017 Indian Premier League and gained attention with analysts and coaches through that tournament. We use our unique combination of databases, models and visualisations to prepare team and player analysis on a preview and review basis.”
BP: Has there been moves to integrate CricViz data with wearables, namely can it fit into a team’s athlete technology stack?
PO: “Wearables in cricket is a developing area and we always are on the lookout for new data sources that can improve insight. As the International Cricket Council’s analytics supplier in the 2017 Champions Trophy we worked with Intel on the analysis of their bat sensor technology. Tracking devices are regularly won under shirts and this is definitely a ‘watch this space’ area.”
BP: As cricket is professionally played across various geographies and different formats, can you describe the enormity of gathering such data?
PO: “Assembling and integrating different data sets – in three different formats – is undoubtedly a challenge but the investment is worthwhile as varied data gives us so many options in different areas. Our CTO (Travis Basevi) is an expert in databasing the numbers in a way that gives our editorial team ease of access and flexibility.”
BP: With the decades long collection of batting and bowling statistics, measuring fielding statistics is a relatively new concept. Due to the increased amounts of cricket played in the last 15 years (namely Twenty20 and even 10-over formats!), what has made fielding a dynamic area of data collection?
PO: “Most of our raw data comes from suppliers, but we do our own fielding collection. It is an underdeveloped discipline in analytical terms, with fielder success historically connected with the bowler and the chances that happen to come the fielder’s way. We log all fielder actions for difficulty, success and impact on opposition score to judge performance more accurately – this should make for better analysis in broadcast and for professional clients.”
BP: About the perils of too much data. Do you feel you have the responsibility to distribute data effectively so people can use it in digestible ways and act on it appropriately?
PO: “It is as much a case of data and its analysis being used in the right way, with proper context to inform sound judgments – the amount of data in its own right isn’t an issue unless undue importance is placed on associated findings. This is no different from having too many human opinions when making decisions. We are there to support (and challenge) expert opinion, be it from commentators, analysts or coaches and make this analysis accessible to fans by it being delivered in a clear and understandable way.”