Every cricket match is a story about the battle between two playing teams and between two key elements of the game - bat and ball.
Cricket fans throng the stadiums, like movie theatres, to view & anticipate the gameplay and watch their stars in action. While the nature of the outcomes are limited (win, tie, abandoned, lost), the live gameplay is filled with many intricate nuances that continuously engages a fan throughout the game.
The narration of a live cricket story to mass audiences began way back when radios started broadcasting matches. Then came television and the story took on a visual form. With every new generation, the display canvas has been evolving continuously and the game is also adapting. With the advent of the social media and OTT app platforms, the narration of the game is not limited to the stadium audience and commentators alone, but also from the fans who co-create their perspectives on the digital platform.
Over the years, the nature of the story also got expanded from live match scripts to pre & post-match screenplays. The emergence & popularity of the cricket clubs like the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams provided regional flavour and emotional connect to the local fan base. Events, melas, fan meets, merchandises, social causes, etc. became a regular part of fan engagement, something that goes beyond the actual game.
From being primarily about the pros and performance, Cricket, today, has become more personal and personalized for fans.
Cricket lovers are mad about data:
Since the proliferation of mobile phones and social media, performance analysis has also moved from being a one-way consumption by fans to two-way interaction between the fans and the stakeholders of the game.
Data transition from statistics to analytics, post-match to real-time:
Cricket is filled with a variety of statistical data at different levels - match and player performance (batting, bowling, and fielding) statistics. To delve deeper into the game and its story, mere absolutes and averages seemed not enough. It has to answer the contextual questions posed by fans.
“How does Rohit Sharma pace his innings in a T20 game? Does he score runs at a faster pace in power play as against death overs?”
Statistics allowed a way for analytics to answer such questions on the key moments of the game. Today, data is sliced & diced, back and forth, providing insights and comparisons on the match, format, toss, time, players, pitch, weather, seasons, umpires, … the list is endless!
“What was the swing on the last ball from Mohammed Shami? How much was the gap between the bat and ball?”
Insights also evolved into a more real-time analysis, from the erstwhile post-match only analysis. Today, we have technologies like pitch map, wagon wheel, Hawk-eye, etc. that provide real-time data on every moment of the game.
One of the recent innovations in this space is PowerBat technology – a smart sticker for cricket bats. It helps to analyze the real-time batting performance of the players, by taking the viewers behind the scenes.
“What is the bat speed of KL Rahul? Was there any twist observed while playing his shot?”
PowerBat & fan engagement:
PowerBat technology allows fans to compare their favourite player’s batting techniques with other batters, and also against bowlers and bowling types, on metrics such as bat power, bat speed, twist on the bat, impact location of the ball on the bat, etc. It provides unique and contextual insights, enabling never seen before player stories - setting a new benchmark in fan engagement on broadcaster platforms.
“What is the bat power of Smriti Mandhana against fast bowlers? How many shots were played from the sweet spot of the bat?”
The technology uses an ultra-lightweight credit card-sized sticker that can be easily pasted on the back of the bat, which provides real time feedback on batting performance. It also empowers any cricket enthusiast to not only improve their game, but also brings in an element of fun. Fans can measure, compare, and contrast their PowerBat metrics with peers as well as with their favourite superstars of the game - bringing them closer to their stars and the game.