Every walk of life is gradually coming under the folds of AI & Machine Learning, and the latest to follow suit is Cricket! Cutting-edge technology like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are being used to enhance fan engagement and provide real-time analytics to improve the game of cricket.

AI & Machine Learning in Sports - Can it change the Game?

On the other hand, there are companies using Predictive Analysis to forecast the outcome of the 2019 Men’s World Cup. This kind of information is useful to team strategists, game followers as well as the sponsors. The model is prepared on the basis of historical data of the 10 participating teams.

Veteran cricketer, Anil Kumble’s tech start up Spektacom, has partnered with Microsoft to create Power Bat, an artificial Intelligence tool. Power Bat is an Azure Sphere-powered sticker is stuck on the shoulder of the bat.

As soon as the batsman hits the ball during a live match, data on various parameters such as speed of the shot, quality of the shot, proximity of the ball’s contact to the bat etc. This data is captured in a metric called the Power Speks. However, this tool is unobtrusive and doesn’t impact the players or the game.

This is an attempt to leverage AI & Machine Learning to deepen fan engagement and collect important data during the match for real-time analytics. This analytics will be used to draw insights which will be shared with the players and team-strategists through an app. These insights will be tools to improve the performance of the player and subsequently the team.

There are sports gear manufacturers like Boltt Smart, who are leveraging AI & Machine Learning to improve their products. These sports gear are not just costumes but actually gadgets using AI & Machine Learning. These help the teams and players to study opponent’s movement through advanced analytics and prepare better for the game. Brands like these are gaining popularity not only in India but also worldwide.

Artificial Intelligence will also change the sports viewing experience in times to come. A paper, Fine-Grain Annotation of Cricket Videos, published by three Indian researchers from IIIT Hyderabad and a research personnel at Xerox Research Center India states that computers can provide text-based commentary of cricket matches with 90% accuracy.

Computer algorithms can accurately label a batsman’s cricketing shot by using visual-recognition techniques for an action that sometimes lasted no more than 1.2 seconds. Not just cricket, Machine Learning algorithms are all set to transform viewing experience in Tennis and Football as well.

Sports Analytics is serious business

Whether it is cricket or any sport, it is not just played between two teams. There is an entire bunch of people involved. There are team managers, team strategists, coaches and trainers, sponsors, fans and the media. There is also a huge commercial angle to the entire thing.

Hence, the dynamics of the sport should be such that it is a mix of deep engagement, strategies and spontaneity. Sports organizations all over the world are utilizing cloud and productivity solutions to connect with fans, improve the team and player’s performance, and manage their operations in fresh ways.

Although disruptive technologies like AI & Machine Learning can be game-changers, there are set of challenges as well. AI is not 100% accurate and has dependence on huge volumes of training data. This is not possible because Sports Analytics is still in nascent stage in India. However, it is feasible to start with a small amount of data and slowly improve the machine learning models with more data over a period of time to improve accuracy.

Sports Analytics is being taken seriously across the globe. It is specialised science is fast improving the process of team selection, monitoring and coaching players, and completely changing the way in which games are played on international arena.