Legendary cricketer Anil Kumble feels that cricket is a batsman’s game. We couldn't agree less, for the fans and the audience majorly come to these matches to cheer for the men on the stumps, hitting sixes and sometimes taking the balls out of the stadium. Despite that, a number of players like Zaheer Khan, Jasprit Bumrah and Kumble among others have marked their distinctiveness as premium bowlers. In fact, Kumble is the among the only two bowlers in the history of cricket to have dismissed all the players of the opposing team in an inning, the other being Jim Laker.
While over the years, cricket experts have been analysing bowlers on a number of parameters like bowling speed and throw angle, no such specific criterion was defined to analyse the batsmen, that is, until now.
Anil Kumble forays into Spektacom to decode the basics behind the techniques of batting. He says, “we’ve always heard experts talk about how a batsman is more powerful than the others. How he’s middling the ball and hitting the sweet spot consistently. But what does all of that really mean in numbers?”
Spektacom, Microsoft Azure and the AI bat
To analyse how a batsman is middling this ball and hitting that sweet spot, Spektacom uses artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to analyse, record and crunch the data.
Focused on building non-intrusive technology, the Spektacom team has developed an IoT-based sensor sticker weighing just 5 grams. Detailing the functionality, Microsoft explains in a post that the sensor sticker captures minute details like, the bat speed, the twist of the bat at the time of the impact with the ball, quality of the shot (proximity of the impact of the ball to the sweet spot) and the power of the shot. This processed information is further analysed to formulate the power of the shot, which the company calls the Power Spek score.
To ease out connectivity issues in a cricket stadium, Microsoft’s Azure comes into play. Using Bluetooth Low Energy, the sensor connects with Stump Box, an edge device placed behind the wicket. The data from the stump box is transferred and analysed in Azure and shot features are provided to broadcasters on the real-time basis. And, to ensure secure communication with the bat, edge device and Azure, the Stump Box is powered by Microsoft Azure's Sphere based hardware platform.
Perks of Power Spek
Kumble thinks that Power Spek can help coaches train the batsmen efficiently. “I can see amateur players comparing their Power Spek scores among themselves and even their favourite cricketers. Coaches too will be able to get better insights and be able to do away with guesswork and a selector’s ‘gut feeling’ to spot new talent,” he said.
Further, reminiscing over his iconic test century against England in 2007, he wonders what his Power Spek score would have been. Currently, Spektacom is testing its Power Bat in local cricket leagues with Star Sports.
Having said all of this, we cannot dismiss the fact, that cricket has evolved from being just a spectators game. It has come a long way in terms of technology, where once it was limited to record the bowling speed is now expected to cross barriers with the AI bat delving deep into the techniques of batting.