Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Analytics in cricket...the surprise elements...

A very closely contested series between India and Australia just concluded. As an Indian cricket fan, I am very glad we won, and retained the No. 1 test spot too. Generally, everyone congratulates the players on their success. Some also include the coaches in their wishes. And a handful few also thank the support staff - the physios, conditioning coaches, and so many more...
I have hardly found anyone who openly acknowledges the role of the analysts in their success stories. It is clearly evident that cricket has evolved over the years. It is no longer a game to be played just on the ground. Gone are the days of “See ball, hit ball”... Any series or match starts way before we actually see the first ball bowled. With the intrusion of technology, there is a plethora of data available for teams to study. Preparation for each series is unique. Analysts, coaches and players sit for hours together studying footage of key players. Huge amount of time is invested in breaking down a player with respect to what his strengths are, his Achilles heel, his tendencies in general towards various scenarios. Mountains of data is collected, analyzed and then strategies are formed as to how teams approach each game and counter each player of the opposition.
Personally, I find this really intriguing. Combining technology, analysis and domain expertise with the sport itself seems extremely interesting. But it also makes me wonder, are teams these days too dependent on player data and analytics? Is there no purity left in sport? Everything has to be planned, calculated and executed as per the ‘analysis’. No more sheer talent, brute force or heroic moments. As a die hard Sachin fan, I cannot stop myself from mentioning the ‘Desert Storm’ innings of 1998 (if you don’t know, no need to read further). I am not aware if analytics had penetrated cricket back then, but no amount of advance planning or analysis prepares you for a desert storm (the actual one). And then no one can help you against the storm that Sachin kicked up... These kind of moments are rare in recent times.
Another indicator that teams rely on too much on pre-series analysis is the performance of wild-cards. In the first test vs Australia, everyone was worried about Starc and Lyon. O’Keefe was an unknown entity. Nobody expected him to spin India out of the match. But he did. But what after that? In the next 3 tests, he was as useless as the ‘ueue’ in ‘queue’. He was not unknown any more. He had been ‘studied’ out of the series. Other examples - Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, who joined the team mid-way. Same effect. For India, Kuldeep Yadav had the same impact in the first innings of the 4th test. Nobody was picking him at all. You could see players struggling against the wrong’un. But the second innings was a whole different story. He looked like a completely different bowler.
As I pondered over this, my mind went back to the T20 World Cup last year where Lendl Simmons, joining the team on the morning of the game as a replacement, batted India out of the competition on his own. There are surprisingly many instances where wildcards have influenced the game way more than expected. The sportsman in me wants to believe that these players were in the zone on those days, had their moment of glory and played the hero for their sides. The analytical part of me thinks this has to do with the (lack of) player analysis before the game. Either way, it does seem to be a good strategy for team selections...After all, not everyone can counter the opposition’s analysis of your weakness and refrain from playing certain strokes completely while scoring 241*...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

T20 Fever...

I am back!!! I realized I was troubling a few people in my free time by cracking senseless and 'fatal' jokes... So I thought... well... I should start writing again... that way I can reach a wider audience... :)

Anyways, a lot has happened since my last post... A whole chapter of my life unfolded during these past 2 years... Journey to the US... Masters'... Research... Coursework... Teaching... Cricket... TITANS... All-nighters... Toppers... Road-trips... MAFIA... Badgers... Packers.... the list is endless... infact its not even a list... its something different... something that I can't put into words with my limited vocabulary (part of which was boosted due to GRE preparation...)...

The title of the post suggests I will end up writing about cricket... people who know me will not be surprised with this.... But this ain't about cricket... this is just a light post to get me back to writing...
The title actually has different interpretations.... the most obvious being the current IPL 4 and the buzz and excitement around it.. Another one is just a play of words... it could be T20 fewer... just hinting people are bored of T20 now.. cricket in general.. and there should be fewer of those matches... I guess after the WC triumph, the emotions of the Indian cricket fans would be maxed-out... The next occasion I feel these emotions are going to take over the entire cricket world is when GOD decides to retire.. (if at all...)

The reason I have this title is a little different .... its more to do with the attitude... Everything around me is moving at a break-neck speed... My MS was completed in record time.. I returned home from US before anyone even noticed I was gone... started working again... got a car... started playing cricket again... and then.. the most important event of my life... getting engaged... on a 10 day notice....
Like they say, every sport evolves with time... so did cricket... from the traditional longer format played in whites.. to the shortest one involving lots of colors, music, dancing, glamor, money... and more importantly, speed... The one thing about T20 is that its quick... it gets over before you even realize... It makes players take decisions fast... think on their feet... plan.. implement.. or improvise... Likewise, I feel we need to play the innings of our lives the same way... very fast.... that's whats happening to me..... thats why I decided to name the post this way...

Anyways, I'll end this here.. more to follow....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shitty Post.....

Excellent poems by not so famous poets... found on toilet doors and walls...

A budding poet trying his best...

Here I lie in stinky vapor,
Because some bastard stole the toilet paper,
Shall I lie, or shall I linger,
Or shall I be forced to use my finger.

Before he graduated to be a poet, he wrote this...

Here I sit
Broken hearted
Tried to shit
But only farted

Someone who had a different experience wrote

You're lucky
You had your chance
I tried to fart,
And shit my pants!

Perhaps it's true that people find inspiration in toilets.

I came here
To shit and stink,
But all I do
Is sit and think.

There are also people who come in for a different purpose...

Some come here to sit and think,
Some come here to shit and stink,
But I come here to scratch my balls,
And read the bullshit on the walls...

Toilets walls also double as job advertisement space...

(written high upon the wall)
If you can piss above this line, the Singapore Fire
Department wants you.

Ministry of Environment advertisement.

We aim to please!
You aim too! Please

On the inside of a toilet door:

Patrons are requested to remain seated throughout the
entire performance.

And finally, this should teach some a lesson...
Sign seen at a restaurant:

The hands that clean these toilets also make your
food...please aim properly.

Friday, October 17, 2008

12K and still counting.....

Congratulations: Take a bow Sir!!! A career spanning 2 decades, (bat)tling the expectations, the pressure and the criticism. And when you consider the rate at which children are born in India, the number of people expecting him to perform everytime, increases every second. For someone who has gone through all this pressure and more, numbers seem to be insignificant but nonetheless they just testify the class of Sachin Tendulkar, God to his fans, terror for the opponents, role-model of many a youngsters, motivator in the dressing room and yet a quintessential boy next door. Congratulations Sachin Tendulkar

Postcards from Mohali - 17th October 2008.