Sunday, May 19, 2024

England Women’s cricket coach Jon Lewis using AI to pick team

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England Women’s cricket coach Jon Lewis revealed Friday he is using artificial intelligence to aid team selection, saying the technology helped his side square last season’s Ashes.

Lewis first became familiar with the work of London-based PSi when he took charge of the UP Warriorz franchise in India’s Women’s Premier League (WPL).

Now the 48-year-old former England paceman uses the company to assist with his decisions about squad composition, team balance and in-game match-ups between players.

The system plots projected outcomes depending on the composition of each side.

“I can send multiple different line-ups to the PSi in London and they run, I think, about 250,000 simulations per team that I send, with all different permutations that could happen through the game,” he said.

“We are able to run simulated teams versus the simulated opposition to give us an idea about how those teams may match up against each other.

“I came across it during my time at UP Warriorz and it’s something I looked at and thought it could add some value to the England Women’s cricket team.”

Lewis said he still favoured a “people-first approach” but he added: “What data can do is give you a really objective view of what could happen and what has happened previously. I think it will help with borderline decisions in terms of selection and match-ups.”

Lewis, who has spoken to England’s rugby union coach Steve Borthwick about his own use of the PSi model, said the system had proved its worth as his side drew last season’s multi-format Women’s Ashes series against arch-rivals Australia.

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“There was one selection particularly last year, one period of the Ashes that we targeted as a team,” said Lewis, speaking at the announcement of England’s squad for T20 and ODI series at home to Pakistan later this month.

“There were a couple of selections where AI really helped because both players I was thinking about picking were both in really good form and were both really selectable and it did help with those selections.

“We saw a real strength in Australia and we matched up our strength to that. That worked really, really well and it helped us win the T20 series in particular, which got us back in the Ashes.”

AI is becoming an increasing feature of top-level sport, with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach saying last month it could help identify talented athletes “in every corner of the world”.

He said AI could also provide more athletes with access to personalised training methods.

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