A star-studded Thursday afternoon in Mumbai witnessed the launch of Cricket.com, an unprecedented data-analytics based cricket platform. Cricketing stars like Brian Lara, Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen, Rohit Sharma, Smriti Mandhana were in the limelight at the launch event and were seen talking about the relevance of statistical analysis in modern day cricket.
While the currently active cricketers from the lot, Rohit and Smriti talked about how data has been helping them in their career, the cricketer-turned-commentator, Kevin Pietersen was vocal about the advantages of knowing the numbers as a commentator. “To be able to dive into analytics and to be able to talk about data actually gives you a reason to talk,’’ said Pietersen terming data analysis as sensational from the broadcasting point of view.
The former English cricketer elaborated an example from the ongoing IPL season when he had the access to Virat Kohli’s pitch map marking his weak and strong areas on the pitch. He was able to deduce the reason behind a relatively poor IPL for the RCB skipper with the bat this year. KP credited the availability of all the data analysis for making commentators look smart and allowing them to deviate from all the cliches.
Pietersen also made some calculative predictions regarding the winners of the much-anticipated 2019 World Cup. Pietersen was critical of the conditions in England and reckons the behaviour of the English summer will play a massive role in deciding the eventual winners of the tournament. “If the conditions are like they were last summer, then I can say sub-continental teams will have a massive role to play in the World Cup. If they are not and it’s horrible and green and seaming all over, it will play into England’s favour”, reckons KP.
At the same time, Pietersen also feels that the seaming conditions in England (if they are that way) can also trouble the English batsmen. “The one downside for England though is that although they have the license to slog from ball one, but in those swinging and seaming conditions it’s quite difficult as we saw in the West Indies in Barbados where the ball did a bit and the West Indies knocked over England”, he explained.
Pietersen believes the sub-air system has played a decisive role in the immense change in conditions in England. “When I started playing for England in 2004, we did not have the sub-air system underneath the grounds to take out the moisture. So, before the sub-air system came in, if there was a huge rain-storm the day was washed out. But it has changed as all the grounds have brought in sub-air system.
“We started a Test match against India and on Day One it was an absolute green surface, but by the end of Day Two it was completely dry. We did not have any rain on the day but the moisture that was keeping the system dry was completely deflating any grass on the wicket,” said Pietersen stressing his point.