Technology behind Ashes cricket success revealed

England cricketer Andrew Flintoff's shoulder alignment angle with his backfoot when bowling is 256 degrees, and that information helps decide how long he stays in the field.

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England cricketer Andrew Flintoff's shoulder alignment angle with his backfoot when bowling is 256 degrees, and that information helps decide how long he stays in the field.

That is one way in which the England and Wales Cricket Board uses IT and telemetry to help improve cricketers' performance, information and resource manager David Rose told the latest meeting of the British Computer Society Elite Group earlier this month.

Rose, who is responsible for the cricket board's information management strategy, outlined the variety of ways in which IT is used to analyse cricketers during practice and matches.

"The ultimate aim of all this technology is to improve performance at the top level by just 1%," Rose told the audience of about 60 people at the event, held at the BCS' London headquarters.

IT underpins ball by ball match analysis, which, coupled with video clips, helps build up game plans on, for example, bowling strategies against specific batsmen. For example, said Rose, the judicious use of this IT exposed Australian batsman Matthew Hayden's technique in the Ashes series last year and identified how he was vulnerable to being defeated leg before wicket.

In practice, frame-by-frame analysis of video clips, looking at body angles and comparing variations in ball delivery on a synchronised quad screen help in assessing the results when, for example, bowlers try out different ways of holding the ball.

In practice sessions in the nets at the National Cricket Centre in Loughborough, Rose is responsible for gathering biomechanical data of players from reflective diodes on their bodies. These measurements, together with images from 12 high-speed cameras build up a 3D image of the player's posture and body alignment. The results are used to optimise their performance in the field.

Three dimensional analysis also helps research injury prevention and helps improve technique, especially for younger players.

Among the upcoming innovations are a virtual reality bowling machine to enable batsmen to experience replicated overs from top-class bowlers such as Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath. The England and Wales Cricket Board is also beginning to use GPRS for tracking fielder movement. Future developments will take place in the areas of knowledge management and advanced video data capture, said Rose.

BCS Elite group

The British Computer Society Elite group is a user-oriented forum of IT directors and managers. It meets to exchange experiences and expectations on how information systems should be managed to achieve business objectives.

At the next Elite meeting, on 8 June, Phillip Webb, managing director of the Police IT Organisation, and information commissioner Richard Thomas will be speaking about police IT.



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